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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Can Bourbon Bay Rebound in San Luis Rey?

Upset by 11-1 British import Slim Shadey in last month’s Grade II San Marcos Stakes, Bourbon Bay will seek redemption among six entrants in the 61st running of the San Luis Rey Stakes, an event he won as the odds-on favorite in 2010.


A winner of 5 of 7 lifetime starts over the Santa Anita grass for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, David and Jill Heerensperger’s Bourbon Bay came up 1 ½ lengths short when fourth in the San Marcos at 1 ¼ miles on Feb. 11. The 6-year-old gelding’s only other miss over the course was by a nose.


Joel Rosario will be in the saddle as the son of Sligo Bay attempts to regain the form that carried him to three Grade II turf marathon wins at the track in 2010 and a victory in the 2011 San Marcos. His overall record of 7-5-4 in 24 races has earned $788,536 with $427,800 achieved over the Santa Anita course.


Slim Shadey, who took this season’s San Marcos under a front-running ride by David Flores, is a 4-year-old gelding who has blossomed under the care of trainer Simon Callaghan. The son of Val Royal, owned and bred in England by Phil Cunningham, accomplished little in Great Britain. He won one of 13 starts, and that was a nose victory when breaking his maiden in a sprint.


After finishing up the track when making his U.S. debut in an allowance race going one mile on turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 2, Slim Shadey rallied to win at 13-1 odds when stretched out to 1 ¼ miles 10 days later. Callaghan thinks the marathon distance of the San Luis Rey is within his grasp.


“He’s a very relaxed horse,” said the 29-year-old trainer, who is from England. “You can pretty much ride him any way, so I think he should get this extra distance. If he does, I think he’s going to be a really interesting horse.”


“I believe this horse is getting better with every race,” said Flores, who added: “I really love to ride for people like Simon Callaghan because he’s a nice guy and very humble. The older guys are going, so I hope we get more guys like him around here.” In his three U.S. races, Slim Shadey has earned $125,000 after netting $86,888 in his 13 United Kingdom starts. As the 123-pound high weight, he will be giving five pounds to each of his five rivals.


Chilean-bred Porfido, who has won his only two starts this year after reaching the age of 10, will attempt to become the oldest graded stakes winner in Santa Anita history in the San Luis Rey. It’s a tall order for the bay horse presently trained by Eoin Harty for Pete Fer and James Yanez. Porfido’s last stakes victory was in 2006 in his native Chile. He hasn’t won a stakes event in the United States in 38 races.


Nonetheless, Porfido, who raced for four years under the care of the legendary Bobby Frankel, is a competitor. He was beaten by less than a length when second to Boule d’Or in the 2008 San Luis Rey. He’s competed in 16 Grade I or Grade II stakes in this country while seldom seeming like he didn’t belong. The old-timer brings earnings of $661,218 into his historic bid with Corey Nakatani on his back. Porfido’s career record is 12-6-11 in 51 starts.


Utopian, a 5-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten, will be making his first start beyond 1 ¼ miles after re-rallying to finish a head behind Slim Shadey when second in the San Marcos at odds of 13-1. Mike Smith will be back aboard the lightly-raced Kentucky-bred trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss. A non-stakes winner, Utopian has posted a 2-2-0 record in nine starts for earnings of $114,180.


The field includes 6-year-old Hog’s Hollow, who is also seeking his first stakes victory and trying the extended distance for the first time. Trained by Paddy Gallagher for Derrick Fisher, Hog’s Hollow is coming off a 3 ¾-length allowance race victory at 1 ¼ miles on turf. He has won at 1 3/8 miles. Garrett Gomez, recovered from a broken heel, will handle the Perfect Soul gelding who has earned $166,050 from a 3-4-3 record in 21 races.


The complete field for the San Luis Rey Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Hog’s Hollow, Garrett Gomez, 118; Utopian, Mike Smith, 118; Porfido, Corey Nakatani, 118; Highway Bandit, Joseph Talamo, 118; Bourbon Bay, Joel Rosario, 118, and Slim Shadey, David Flores, 123.



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