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HRN Original Blog:
Toasting with Andrew Champagne

No Bayern? No Problem in the San Felipe

California Chrome wins 2014 Cal Cup Derby
Photo: Benoit Photo

 

Despite an unfortunate defection Thursday, Saturday's San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park figures to be one of the most highly-anticipated Kentucky Derby preps to date.

The undefeated Bayern was scratched by trainer Bob Baffert due to a minor foot ailment. It won't take the flashy colt off the Derby trail (his next step could be either the Santa Anita Derby or the Arkansas Derby), but the untimely injury will keep him away from the San Felipe, a race he may have gone off favored in.

In his absence, the betting choice may be a horse who needs 2014 Kentucky Derby points badly. California Chrome's win in January's Cal Cup Derby was eye-catching, and second-place finisher Tamarando came back to capture the El Camino Real Derby. The San Felipe represents his toughest test to date, and the Art Sherman trainee, one who owns zero Derby points, could vault toward the top of the West Coast's 3-year-old class with a win over a strong group of sophomores.

The San Felipe also features the top two finishers in January's Sham Stakes, one of the first Derby preps of the season. Sham winner Midnight Hawk most recently ran third behind Candy Boy and Chitu in the Robert B. Lewis. If he hits the board Saturday, he probably punches his ticket to Kentucky, but questions remain about his maturity and ability to handle 1 1/16 miles.

Meanwhile, Kristo chased Midnight Hawk two months ago and has been off since. He'll look to catch up with fellow John Sadler trainees Candy Boy and Kobe's Back with a solid run in the San Felipe, and Sadler says he expects the son of Distorted Humor to rate off the pace.

One of the “buzz” horses around Santa Anita is Schoolofhardrocks. Trained by David Hofmans, the colt by Rock Hard Ten has not raced since August, but his activity in the mornings has turned plenty of heads. His debut win came at a mile, so distance should not be an issue, and if he's ready to go off the bench, he and red-hot jockey Joe Talamo (who won three races Thursday) could upset a very classy field.

Home Run Kitten, Unstoppable Colby, Rprettyboyfloyd, Sawyer's Hill, and Recanted round out the nine-horse field, which will go postward at 2 p.m. Pacific time Saturday afternoon. The San Felipe carries a total of 85 Kentucky Derby points, 50 of which will go to the winner.

 

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Older Comments about No Bayern? No Problem in the San Felipe...

contenders: 4 California Chrome 9 Midnight Hawk 8 Schoolofhardrocks 7 Kristo
Rprettyboyfloyd ran yesterday. Lost by a nose in SA r2.
RPrettyboyfloyd longshot
Schoolofhardrocks has a ton of talent, but California Chrome is no pushover.
Bayern behind schedule now

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Meet Andrew Champagne

 

A native of upstate New York and a graduate of Ithaca College, Andrew Champagne fell in love with horse racing at a very early age on summer trips to Saratoga. His turf writing credits include time spent as a sportswriter, weekly columnist, and handicapper at The Saratogian, a summer working for The Saratoga Special, and "field research" at OTB facilities in Saratoga Springs and his hometown of Kingston. He also spent two years in the athletic communications office at Siena College, and interned with NBC Olympics at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.


Andrew moved to Pasadena, Calif., in October of 2013, and now serves as an Associate Producer in HRTV's Digital Media department and Horse Racing Nation's Southern California writer. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne, and email him at andrewdchampagne@gmail.com.