Handsome Mike’s last two races were disappointing, but Doug O’Neill
is hoping for a return to form when the Kentucky-bred son of Scat Daddy
runs in Saturday’s Grade II San Fernando Stakes exclusively for
4-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Handsome Mike was ninth by more than 20 lengths in the Breeders’
Cup Classic behind victorious Fort Larned on Nov. 3, then 10th by more
than nine lengths in the Hollywood Derby at 1 ¼ miles on turf Nov. 25.
v“We might have been a little overconfident leading up to the Breeders’
Cup Classic,” said O’Neill, who trains the Kentucky-bred for owner J.
“The horse wasn’t completely ready and that race zapped him a
little bit. Then he kind of bounced in the Hollywood Derby.”
If all systems are go for the San Fernando, Handsome Mike could be
primed for a minor upset, albeit not as big as the one he scored at 19-1
in the Pennsylvania Derby last Sept. 22, one race prior to the
Breeders’ Cup Classic. Handsome Mike is 9-2 on Jon White’s morning line.
Blinkers will be back on Handsome Mike for the San Fernando after
they were removed for the Hollywood Derby. He wore them in his
Pennsylvania Derby victory.
In other San Fernando news:
With a better post and a better start, Mike Smith expects a better
performance than the sixth-place showing by Fed Biz in the Grace I
Malibu at seven furlongs on Dec. 26.
“It was a better race than it looks on paper,” said the Hall of
Fame rider, who was aboard Fed Biz competitively for the first time in
the Malibu. “He was actually making up ground at the end and he had a
little problem at the gate. He should be ready tomorrow.”
The San Fernando, which goes as the seventh of nine races: Battle Force,
Garrett Gomez, 9-2; Fly Lexus Fly, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Regulus, Aaron
Gryder, 8-1; Mile High Magic, Martin Garcia, 8-1; Guilt Trip, Joe
Talamo, 6-1; Handsome Mike, Mario Gutierrez, 9-2; Sky Kingdom, Edwin
Maldonado, 20-1; Fed Biz, Mike Smith, 7-2; Tribal Jewel, Julien
Leparoux, 6-1; and Tritap, Corey Nakatani, 10-1.