In Saturday's Grade II Strub Stakes at Santa Anita Park, 4-year-old Guilt Trip sat patiently behind dueling leaders Triptap and Handsome Mike before pouncing in the lane. He crossed the finish line 1-1/2 lengths in front of Stephanoatsee.
“It really set up great for him," said winning rider Joe Talamo. "The extra sixteenth (of a mile from the San Fernando) really helped. I think the mile and a quarter (of the Santa Anita Handicap on March 2) he’ll love even more."
“He’s a professional. I just had to point him in the right direction today. Bob (Baffert) did a great job and I’m happy to have the opportunity for Mr. and Mrs. West. It’s all good.”
Guilt Trip ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.97 and paid $6.40, $3.40 and $2.60.
“He trained forwardly," said winning trainer Bob Baffert. Stretching him out was really important for him. The longer distance will really help him. He can sit and wait. Today the pace was pretty fast, so it was a big difference.
“It’s a good option for him (when asked about the Santa Anita Handicap) if he’s doing well. I don’t like to get ahead of myself because we’re superstitious. We don’t want to jinx ourselves.”
Stephanoatsee, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $4.20 and $3.40.
“It was a good trip for us," said Leparoux. "There wasn’t any pace for us. He’s a big horse and it took him a long time to get going. The winner got the jump on us, but my horse didn’t get tired.”
Bob Baffert's Fed Biz was another three-quarters of a length back in
third and paid $3 to show under Mike Smith.
“We tucked in behind the pace and let them go up front," said Smith. "We thought we would have the lead but didn’t. Distance was a question and he did well. He made me proud today.”
Corey Nakatani was frustrated that he could not get Tritap to relax early. “The horse broke really sharp, and I was trying to get back, and I couldn’t get my horse to switch off. It was not a very good race when the outside horse just keeps on riding. I’m not blaming anybody. It didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. I wanted Fed Biz to get in the lead, and I was going to track in second.
“If the outside horse wanted to go, I was going to let him go to the lead. Let Handsome Mike do his thing and go to the lead. But he got away bad, and I’m right there on the lead wanting to get back. I wanted to be sitting third in the race. I was trying to slow it down.”