, a sharp second in the Grade II Sir Beaufort Stakes
going one mile on turf at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, will try to transfer
his sharp recent form to the main track on Saturday as he takes on nine
other four-year-olds in the Grade II, $150,000 San Fernando Stakes at 1
1/16 miles, the middle leg in Santa Anita’s prestigious Strub series.
Trained by John Shirreffs, Battle Force sat mid-pack in the
opening day Sir Beaufort but missed by a half-length while rallying
stoutly through the lane. Ridden by Mike Smith in his previous three
starts, he’ll be handled for the first time on Saturday by Garrett
A Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway, Battle Force broke his
maiden with Brice Blanc going a mile on turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 4,
2011 and was subsequently third with Smith in the Grade III Generous
Stakes going a mile on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov. 27, 2011.
His lone non-turf start came this past Nov. 17, when he made his
first start in 50 weeks running second, beaten a half-length at 2-1 on
Cushion Track. With Gomez aloft, it is expected that Battle Force will
be allowed to settle well off the San Fernando pace and come with a big
Owned by Woodford Racing LLC, Battle Force has 5-1-3-1 record and $87,600 in earnings.
Handsome Mike, with $756,780 in earnings, is by far the biggest
money-winner in the San Fernando field and is also one of the biggest
question marks, as he comes off two races; the Breeders’ Cup Classic on
Nov. 3, and the Grade I Hollywood Derby (turf) on Nov. 25, in which he
was beaten by a combined 30 ¼ lengths.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, owned by Reddam Racing LLC, and ridden
by Mario Gutierrez, the classic-winning connections are well-familiar
with racing’s biggest stages. Although he was attentive to the early
pace in his last two starts “Mike” never seriously threatened in either.
O’Neill, who took blinkers off for the Hollywood Derby, will put them
back on the Kentucky-bred son of Scat Daddy on Saturday.
A winner of the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 22, Handsome Mike’s overall record stands at 12-2-1-1.
Bob Baffert will be amply represented in the San Fernando, as
he’ll send out a total of four horses; Mile High Magic, Guilt Trip, Sky
Kingdom and Fed Biz.
Fed Biz, regarded by many a year ago as perhaps Baffert’s top
Kentucky Derby prospect, will be ridden for the second time in a row by
Smith, who guided him to a non-threatening sixth-place finish in the
opening day Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs. Off at 11-1 in the
Malibu, Fed Biz, at 5-1, was a well-beaten eighth in his previous start,
the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, on Nov. 3.
Fed Biz, owned by Kaleem Shah, earned a San Fernando-best 103
Beyer Speed figure when winning the one-mile El Cajon Stakes on
Polytrack at Del Mar Aug. 31. That victory was earned in gate to wire
fashion and it is expected Smith will employ similar tactics Saturday.
With $184,456 in earnings, Fed Biz has a record of 7-3-0-1.
Although he’s taking blinkers off for the San Fernando, Mike
Pegram’s homebred Mile High Magic could compromise the chances of anyone
committed to a fast early pace. The gelded son of Roman Ruler
disappointed as the 9-5 favorite in the seven furlong Damascus Stakes on
Nov. 3 and will be trying two turns for the first time on Saturday.
He has a solid work tab for his return, including a bullet five
furlong drill in 58.60 on Dec. 27, best of 50 at the distance. Mile
High Magic has a 7-2-3-1 mark and earnings of $105,730.
Guilt Trip, who ran a creditable fifth in his Southern
California debut, beaten 4 ½ lengths in the Malibu, has scorched the
track since and appears primed for a much-improved effort. In his most
recent breeze on Jan. 5, the Kentucky-bred colt by Pulpit drilled five
furlongs in 59 flat, best of 103 at the distance.
A two-time winner at one-mile, Guilt Trip will be ridden for the
first time by Joe Talamo and should be attentive to the early pace.
Owned by Gary and Mary West, he has earnings of $99,567 from a mark of
Sky Kingdom would appear to be in need of a race, as he’s been
idle since running sixth behind eventual Kentucky Derby and Preakness
Stakes winner I’ll Have Another in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes
on Feb. 4. Owned by Westrock Stables LLC, he’ll be ridden for the first
time by Edwin Maldonado. A son of Empire Maker, Sky Kingdom has
earnings of $129,930 from a record of 6-2-0-0.
Distance should be no problem for the Steve Asmussen-trained
Tritap, who comes off a first-condition allowance score going 1 3/16
miles at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17. A maiden winner at Saragota going
seven furlongs on Aug. 4, the Kentucky-bred colt by Tapit has
demonstrated good tactical speed.
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, Tritap has a record of
7-2-3-0 and earnings of $121,936. Corey Nakatani will ride for the
A two-time Group I winner in Peru, Kentucky-bred Fly Lexis Fly
closed much ground when third, beaten 3 ½ lengths by older horses in a
classified allowance going 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 1 at Betfair
Hollywood. Trainer Neil Drysdale adds blinkers for the first time and
Rafael Bejarano sticks with the son of Badge of Silver.
Fly Lexis Fly has earnings of $214,622 from a record of 9-3-2-1.
Darley Stables’ homebred Regulus has two wins routing, including
an allowance score at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 28 at Santa Anita. The
speedy son of Distorted Humor was then attentive to the early pace in
the same classified allowance that Fly Lexis Fly exits, and was sixth,
beaten 13 ¾ lengths. Trained by Eoin Harty, he’ll again be ridden by
Aaron Gryder. Regulus has banked $83,050 from a record of 6-2-1-0.
Jerry Hollendorfer will send out the lone California-bred on
Saturday, as Tribal Jewel, a gelding by Tribal Jewel, will try to parlay
a first-condition allowance win going one mile on opening day to
victory in the Grade II San Fernando. Tribal Jewel earned a 96 Beyer
figure for his wet fast score and could be winging early under new rider
Bred by Halo Farms and owned by Halo Farms, Bashor and Hug, Tribal Jewel has $124,598 in earnings from a mark of 7-3-0-3.
The complete San Fernando Stakes field, which goes as the
seventh on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockey and weights in post
position order: Battle Force, Garrett Gomez, 118; Fly Lexis Fly, Rafael
Bejarano, 118; Regulus, Aaron Gryder, 118; Mile High Magic, Martin
Garcia, 118; Guilt Trip, Joe Talamo, 118; Handsome Mike, Mario
Gutierrez, 123; Sky Kingdom, Edwin Maldonado, 118; Fed Biz, Mike Smith,
118; Tribal Jewel, Julien Leparoux, 118, and Tritap, Corey Nakatani,