Regarded by many as Bob Baffert’s top Derby prospect, Fed Biz
validated his early notices in his 4-year-old debut at Santa Anita on
Jan. 12, winning the Grade II San Fernando Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, thus
setting the stage for his role as favorite in Saturday’s Grade II,
$200,000 Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
With Mike Smith aboard, Fed Biz fought back gamely in the San
Fernando to deny the Steve Asmussen-trained Tritap, with Corey Nakatani
up, by a head, while getting the distance in 1:42.20—which earned him a
Beyer Speed figure of 99.
The Kentucky-bred colt by Giant’s Causeway has improved in several areas, according to Smith.
“I really like him when I breezed him before the (Malibu Stakes)
on opening day and for some reason he got really hot,” said Smith
following the San Fernando win. “I hadn’t taken two steps inside the
gate and he was over, and he threw me out the back (of the starting
gate), and he just wasn’t right after that.
Fed Biz ended up breaking a bit slowly in the Malibu and finished sixth, beaten 6 ¼ lengths.
Sent from the gate in the San Fernando, he led in gate to wire fashion, and responded well to Smith’s commands when it counted.
“Early on, he used to be a little stubborn about switching to
his right lead. Once I got him over there, he’s game, he wouldn’t let
somebody by him unless they surprised him.”
It is expected that Smith could employ similar tactics on
Saturday, as he’ll be facing three others who ran behind him in the San
Fernando, including runner up Tritap.
Fed Biz, who is owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., brings a record of 8-4-0-1 and earnings of $274,456 to Saturday’s Strub.
A Kentucky-bred colt by Tapit, Tritap has been a gem of
consistency for Asmussen and will be seeking his first stakes victory in
the Strub. He’ll again be handled by Nakatani, who rode him for the
first time in the San Fernando.
“He ran his butt off,” said Nakatani following the San Fernando,
in which he broke from post position nine. “We had a real good
position but he also had to do quite a bit from the (post) position we
had...He ran a dynamite race and it was unfortunate that we got beat.”
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, Tritap sat close to Fed Biz
in the San Fernando and has ample speed. Second at the distance in a
first-condition allowance at Saratoga on Sept. 2, Tritap has an overall
mark of 8-2-4-0, with earnings of $151,936.
In addition to Fed Biz, Baffert will also saddle Guilt Trip, who finished a half length behind Tritap in the San Fernando.
Ridden by Joe Talamo, Guilt Trip made a solid run from off the pace.
“I was tucked in,” said Talamo. “Looking back, I wish I had
just circled the field. I think if I’d have gone five-wide, I don’t
know if he’d have won, but he came flying. He’s a nice horse.”
Fed Biz and Guilt Trip worked six furlongs in company on Sunday
for Baffert, with Guilt Trip getting the best of it, stopping the watch
at 1:12 flat. Fed Biz was timed in 1:12.40 on a wet fast track.
Owned by Gary and Mary West, Guilt Trip is a lightly raced colt
by Pulpit who is search of his first stakes win. He brings a record of
6-2-0-1 and earnings of $117,567 to the Strub.
Reddam Racing’s Handsome Mike pressed the San Fernando pace and weakened to finish 2 ¾ lengths behind Guilt Trip.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Handsome Mike will again be ridden by
last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winning jockey, Mario
A winner of the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby at 1 1/8 miles on
Sept. 22, Handsome Mike, a Kentucky-bred colt by Scat Daddy, has shown
ample speed in virtually all of his races. The leading money-earner
coming into the Strub of $759,780, he has an overall mark of 13-2-1-1.
Fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby, Graham Motion’s Stephanoatsee
was a subsequent winner of the 1 1/16 miles Barbaro Stakes on Oct. 20 at
Delaware Park. Third going 1 1/8 miles in the Grade III Discovery
Handicap on Nov. 17 at Aqueduct, Stephanoatsee has the look of a deep
closer—a style that could be flattered by the abundance of speed signed
up for the Strub.
Owned by My Meadowview Farm, Stephanoatsee will be ridden for
the first time by Julien Leparoux on Saturday. With a record of
8-3-2-1, he has earnings of $213,000.
The 66th running of the Strub Stakes, which has been carded as
the eighth on a 10-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post
position order: Shadow Runner, Garrett Gomez, 118; Fed Biz, Mike Smith,
123; Guilt Trip, Joe Talamo, 118; Tritap, Corey Nakatani, 118; Groovin’
Solo, Alonso Quinonez, 118; Handsome Mike, Mario Gutierrez, 123, and
Stephanoatsee, Julien Leparoux, 118.