Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Ed Van Meter
It seems like only yesterday, but it was in 2004, when a huge dark bay 3-year-old named Rock Hard Ten was all the buzz in southern California. He was destined to start in the Kentucky Derby, but lacked the graded stakes earnings to crack the Top 20 of would-be Derby starters.
Shut out of the Derby, Rock Hard Ten was runner-up to Derby winner Smarty Jones in the Preakness stakes, and finished his career with 7 victories from 11 starts. He was a perfect 6 for 6 on the Santa Anita natural dirt oval.
Fast forward ten years. There is similar buzz on the Santa Anita backside about Schoolofhardrocks, a son of Rock Hard Ten is expected to make his sophomore debut on Saturday in the $300,000 G2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. A victory here would be a tall task for a colt making just his second lifetime start, especially when it comes 6 months after his initial start.
Private Clocker/Bloodstock Agent Gary Young appeared on HRTV this past Sunday to discuss some of the west coast based Derby contenders scheduled to start in the San Felipe Stakes. While he sang the praises of Midnight Hawk’s maturity, he added a few comments about Schoolofhardrocks. Young used phrases such as “he’s a beast”, “trained like a wild horse” and “enormous horse with an enormous stride” in describing the son of Rock Hard Ten.
Here’s the video evidence of Schoolofhardrocks maiden victory at Del Mar on Aug. 31st, making a huge Zenyetta-like move…
As of this writing, the San Felipe Stakes has nine (9) potential starters.
POST UPDATED on Wednesday (Mar. 5) 12:30pm PST AFTER POST POSITIONS WERE DRAWN. Initially, Sawyer's Hill was not considered a potential starter based on circulated reports early in the week.
#1 - Home Run Kitten (30-1) A. Quinonez / D. Hofmans
A non-threatening 5th in Bob Lewis; should go the synthetic or turf route instead of in here.
#2 - Unstoppable Colby (20-1) L. Saez / D. W. Lukas
Gate-to-wire MSW winner @ OP in 5th start; guess there was space on the plane bringing Will Take Charge in for The Big ‘Cap?!
#3 - Rprettyboyfloyd (15-1) C. Nakatani / D. Breuer
Probably most talented 3-race maiden in the country; 2nd to Bayern and Chelios then 3rd in San Vicente 3 weeks ago; will benefit from stretching out to two-turns.
#4 - California Chrome (5-2) V. Espinoza / A. Sherman
Keeps improving with every race; not your typical CA-bred.
#5 - Sawyer's Hill (30-1) M. Garcia / K. Mulhall
Still a maiden but well backed (5-2) in both starts when 3rd in debut @ Dmr and again on Jan. 26 @ SA running behind Chelios and Rprettyboyfloyd.
#6 - Bayern (9-5) G. Stevens / B. Baffert
An impressive 2 for 2; made Tap It Rich look like a Claimer in 15 length romp last out.
#7 - Kristo (6-1) J. Rosario / J. Sadler
Hung tough against Midnight Hawk in Sham Stakes; Rosario in irons will generate an underlay.
#8 - Schoolofhardrocks (10-1) J. Talamo / D. Hofmans
Away since debut win in Aug @ Dmr; Reportedly has been a beast in the A.M. and work tab confirms it.
#9 - Midnight Hawk (3-1) M. Smith / B. Baffert
Disappointing 3rd as PT favorite in Bob Lewis OR are Candy Boy and Chitu just that good?
#10 - Recanted (30-1) M. Gutierrez / D. O’Neill
Recent import from across the pond tried 6½ downhill course unsuccessfully in U.S. bow; would be initial natural dirt start; a Reddam “shot-in-the-dark” type.
Note: Listed odds are probable Morning Line based on all nine being entered.
Which of these would you be looking (and/or wagering on) to get to the Santa Anita Winners’ Circle on Saturday?