San Pasqual Stakes 2016 at Santa Anita Park

Dave Bond | OTB Writer

Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes will take place at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California this Saturday, January 9. Horses four years old and upward will line up on Santa Anita's dirt track and race 1 1/16 miles searching for the winner's share of the $200,000 purse.

A field of eight will take to the track in the San Pasqual Stakes - race 8 on Santa Anita's Saturday schedule. Post time is 4:00 PM. Here is a glance into the past performances of all eight combatants for this Grade 2 stakes.

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2016 San Pasqual Stakes Race Favorites

California Chrome - two-time Eclipse Award winning Art Sherman trained 2014 Horse of the Year had a terrific six race win streak early that year and looked absolutely untouchable - the Preakness Stakes, a four length win in the Kentucky Derby, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths and two minor stakes scores. But he stumbled his next two starts - a sixth in the 2014 Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby September 20 followed a fourth in the Belmont Stakes - a race that could have made him the first Triple Crown winner in decades. He had just two starts in 2015 - a runner-up finish in the $10 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan way back in March followed another second in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes in February, 2015. Those results followed a victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar November 29, 2014 and a third in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic. California Chrome now has 18 career starts with nine wins, three seconds and a third place finish makes his much anticipated return to the track for the first time in nine months. All eyes will be on jockey Victor Espinoza as he and the likely overwhelming favorite California Chrome leave from gate 4.

Hoppertunity - Bob Baffert trained colt was one of the favorites for the 2014 Kentucky Derby but missed that race. He had a decent second to Hard Aces in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 27, 2014 and has been decent since - two good wins - the 2015 San Pasqual Stakes January 10, and in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs November 28, 2014 were the highlights. He enters off three straight runner-up finishes - the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last time out November 27 at Churchill Downs, the Grade 2 Haygard Fayette Stakes October 30 at Keeneland and the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes on this track in September. Those results followed consecutive fourths - the Grade 1 Pacific August 22 and in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap July 25. Hoppertunity has four wins, six seconds and two third place finishes in 16 starts overall, has finished no worse than fourth in eight graded tries since last year's San Pasqual and has certainly been knocking on the door lately. Martin Garcia has been tabbed with getting Hoppertunity his first win since last year's edition of this race from post 5.

San Pasqual Stakes 2016 | Remaining Contenders

Hard Aces - John Sadler trainee looked awfully impressive four starts back - winning the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita in upset fashion over Catch a Flight and Hoppertunity June 27 but hasn't looked great in three starts since - a sixth last time out in the Breeders' Cup Classic followed a sixth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes September 26 and another disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar August 22. His win in June followed a third in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes May 30 and off-the-board finishes in his previous two starts - both graded stakes. Hard Aces had two wins and a third place in eight starts last year and enters in sketchy form. Joe Talamo gets the call from gate 6.

Imperative - finished second behind Dortmund in the 2015 Grade 2 Charles Town Classic in April (a race he won in 2014) but hasn't looked great otherwise. Last time out was an OK second in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar November 28 after a fourth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes here September 26 and a fifth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic in August. Imperative has placed in just two of his last nine starts ahead of this race, has just three wins, six seconds and three third place finishes in 27 career starts and looks for his first win since April, 2014. Jockey Mario Gutierrez will try to snap a slump Saturday from the outside gate 8.

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Blingo - John Sherreffs trained gelding was last seen finishing fifth in an Allowance Optional Claiming November 21 after a ninth in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Stakes at Belmont Park October 10 and nearly 20 months away. Before the layoff was a third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March, 2014, a good win in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes a month before that and a sixth in the 2014 Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes in January. He has failed to place in his only two starts in a year and has just four wins and a third place finish in 14 career starts. Alex Solis tries to change all of that from gate 2.

Point Piper - made his graded stakes debut September 26 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and finished fifth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes here. Before that was a win in the minor Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar August 26 after an ugly eighth in an Allowance Optional Claiming on that same track in July and an Allowance score at Lone Star in May. He enters off consecutive runner-up finishes in minor stakes action - the $165,000 Zia Park Championship November 25 and the Big Bear Stakes October 24. Point Piper has placed in three of his last four starts ahead of this weekend and will depart from post 3 with Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.

Mystery Train - arrived from Argentina and promptly finished ninth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic August 24, 2014 and followed that with a sixth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes September 27 and a tenth in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in November. The good news is that he did have a respectable second after leading most of the way in the 1 1/16 mile Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds February 21, 2015 and he did post a win in the minor Evangeline Mile June 6 of last year. He has since failed to hit the board in two starts - a fifth last time out in the minor Big Bear Stakes here October 24 followed a DNF in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine July 1. Mystery Train has placed in just two of eight North American starts - not all that impressive. He looks for a bounce back performance and for his first graded stakes score from post 7 Saturday with Mike Smith in the irons.

Alfa Bird - made his stakes debut for trainer Victor Garcia last February and finished eighth in the Grade 2 San Antonio Invitational here and has just one start since - a sixth in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Los Alamitos in December. Before that he had two wins and three seconds in five starts - two straight wins at this time last year - an Allowance Optional Claiming on this track January 2, 2015 after breaking maiden at Del Mar November 27, 2014 in his fourth start. Alfa Bird has failed to place in his last two starts and makes just his third start in a year Saturday. Not a lot is expected from the rail with Tyler Baze aboard.

2016 San Pasqual Stakes Entries & Odds

Race 8 on Santa Anita's Saturday card with a Post Time of 7:00 PM.

Entry Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Alfa Bird Tyler Baze Victor Garcia
2 Blingo Alex Solis John Shirreffs
3 Point Piper Rafael Bejarano Jerry Hollendorfer
4 California Chrome Victor Espinoza Art Sherman
5 Hoppertunity Martin Garcia Bob Baffert
6 Hard Aces Joseph Talamo John Sadler
7 Mystery Train (ARG) Mike Smith Darrell Vienna
8 Imperative Mario Gutierrez Richard Baltas

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