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In what shapes up as an outstanding prep to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 7, the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes has attracted a competitive field of 10 older horses at a mile and one eighth, with C R K Stable's Midcourt, Speedway Stable's Roadster and owner/trainer Val Brinkerhoff's versatile Restrainedvengence all prominent on Saturday, February 1.
Although he had a four-race winning streak snapped when third to top older horse Gift Box in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes Dec. 28, Midcourt will hope to mind his manners and break sharply with regular rider Victor Espinoza up.
Last year's Santa Anita Derby winner, Roadster stretches out off of a second place finish behind Omaha Beach in the opening day Malibu Stakes and speedy Restrainedvengence returns to Santa Anita following a smashing gate to wire win going 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Zia Park, New Mexico on Nov. 27.
Race 8 at Santa Anita on Saturday, February 01 - Post 7:02 PM
|2||Route Six Six||20-1||Jose Valdivia, Jr.
|4||King Abner||4-1||Flavien Prat
|7||California Street||12-1||Mike Smith
|8||Two Thirty Five||8-1||Ruben Fuentes
|9||Bold Endeavor||30-1||Mario Gutierrez
|10||Combatant||10-1||Drayden Van Dyke
A handful in the morning and quite often in post parade on race day, Midcourt has benefitted greatly from Shirreffs' patient handling which resulted in a four-game winning streak which culminated in a 5 3/4 length win two starts back in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 23.
Away slowly and shuffled back in the early going, Midcourt, a 5-year-old gelding by Midnight Lute, never seemed to get untracked in the opening day San Antonio while running an even third, beaten 7 1/2 lengths. With regular rider Victor Espinoza back aboard, Midcourt needs to break running and "get in the game" early in order to have his best chance on Saturday.
Owner: C R K Stable | Trainer: John Shirreffs
Winless in five starts since winning last year's Santa Anita Derby, this 4-year-old Quality Road colt was a solid second, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by Omaha Beach going seven furlongs in the opening day Grade I Malibu Stakes. Never a factor in the Kentucky Derby five starts back, he came back to Santa Anita and posted a pair of second place finishes, in the Grade III Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles on June 16, and in the ungraded Damascus Stakes at seven furlongs Nov. 2-in which he was beaten a nose by highly regarded sprinter Flagstaff.
Fourth, beaten nearly 10 lengths versus Midcourt as the 4-5 favorite in the Native Diver Nov. 23, his second place run in the Malibu was a very encouraging effort and Roadster looms a dangerous horse with Joel Rosario back aboard.
Owner: Speedway Stable, LLC | Trainer: Bob Baffert
A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by the Giant's Causeway stallion Hold Me Back, Restrainedvengence sped to a gate wire score in an ungraded stakes at Zia Park Nov. 27, winning by 4 ½ lengths. With outstanding recent races on dirt and turf at Longacres, Golden Gate Fields, Santa Anita and Zia Park, Restrainedvengence is beginning to take on the look of a major player in the Handicap division and will be ridden for the first time by a red hot Abel Cedillo on Saturday.
Owner: Kelly Brinkerhoff and Bob Grayson, Jr. | Trainer: Val Brinkerhoff
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