Flagstaff aims for graded stakes glory in Santa Anita's Palos Verdes

Flagstaff aims for graded stakes glory in Santa Anita's Palos Verdes
Photo: Benoit Photo

Trainer John Sadler’s talented 6-year-old gelding Flagstaff, idle since Nov. 2, heads a field of six entries at Santa Anita going six furlongs in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes.

A game nose winner of the seven furlong Damascus Stakes Nov. 2, Flagstaff, a lightly raced son of champion sprinter Speightstown, will be making his second start in graded stakes competition on Saturday. 

Sadler will also be represented by the venerable 8-year-old gelding St. Joe Bay, a three-time graded stakes winner who’s hasn't raced winning the San Carlos Stakes (G2) here on March 30.

Idle since March 30, Bob Baffert’s veteran 5-year-old Ax Man has trained well for his return while Baffert’s Speed Pass, a 4-year-old Bodemeister gelding who is unbeaten in two starts, gets a major test for class off of a galloping seven-length allowance score at Los Alamitos on Dec. 7. 


Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Hronis Racing, LLC

Trainer: John Sadler

A game nose winner of the seven-furlong Damascus Stakes, Flagstaff has won four out of his nine starts and been in the money on eight occasions. Off as the even money favorite in the Damascus, he ran a big third at 9-1 two starts back in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), a race in which he was beaten 2 ½ lengths by top gun Omaha Beach.


Owner: Hronis Racing, LLC

Trainer: John Sadler

A winner of the 2017 Palos Verdes, Florida-bred St. Joe Bay could be in need of a race off the lengthy layoff, but his 14: 4-5-2 record over the Santa Anita main track is well worth noting. Based at Los Alamitos for his return to afternoon action, St. Joe Bay will be ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano. The leading money earner in the Palos Verdes field with $734,515, his overall mark stands at 36: 7-7-6.


Owner: Patti & Hal Earnhardt

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Considered a Derby prospect two years ago, this 5-year-old gelding by Misremembered won the restricted Sir Barton Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Pimlico in his fourth career start on May 19, 2018, but is still looking for his first graded stakes win in what will be his 10th career start. Idle since well beaten here as the 6-5 favorite going seven furlongs in the San Carlos Stakes, Ax Man brings an outstanding work tab and a full serving of class to Saturday’s Palos Verdes.


Owner: Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman                    Trainer: Bob Baffert

A first-out maiden winner going six furlongs at Los Alamitos Sept. 20, Speed Pass relished a main track listed as “good” on Dec. 7 at Los Al, responding with a scintillating seven length allowance score at the same distance as the 6-5 favorite. Out of the Curlin mare Julie Napp, Speed Pass could be sitting on a big 4-year-old campaign as he faces much tougher horses in the Palos Verdes.

Race 8 of 9; Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT  

1. Ax Man—Drayden Van Dyke—120

2. Captain Scotty—Abel Cedillo—120

3. Flagstaff—Victor Espinoza—120

4. Grinning Tiger—Umberto Rispoli—120

5. St. Joe Bay—Rafael Bejarano—122

6. Speed Pass—J.C. Diaz, Jr.—120 

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