Trainer Vladimir Cerin’s Follow Me Crev, along with a pair of Bob Baffert runners, Collected and Cupid, as well as Cliff Sise’s Prospect Park, head a field of six 3-year-olds and up in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Californian Stakes, a traditional steppingstone to the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 27.To be run for the 64th time, the Californian will be contested at a mile and one eighth.
In addition to the top four, trainer Jim Cassidy’s Prime Attraction, who, like Prospect Park, comes off a turf allowance win at 1 1/8 miles, rates a solid chance as he transitions back to the main track.
FOLLOW ME CREV: Fifth in last year’s Californian at 9-2, this 5-year-old Quality Road gelding was an impressive allowance winner going 1 1/16 miles here on Feb. 20 and will be making his third start off a seven month layoff on Saturday.Taken well off the pace in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 11, he ended up third, beaten 5 ¼ lengths by top handicap performer Shaman Ghost while earning a career-best Beyer Speed figure of 101.Owned by David and Holly Wilson, Follow Me Crev would be well served by a fast early pace.With an overall mark of 20-6-3-4, he has earnings of $337,240.
COLLECTED: In what was the best performance of his career, he stalked the early pace and went on to a decisive 3 ¾ length win in the Santana Mile on April 1, his first start since being well beaten in the Grade I Preakness Stakes on May 21 of last year.A 4-year-old colt by City Zip, he won both the Grade III, one mile Sham Stakes and the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles Lexington prior to running in the Preakness.Owned by Speedway Stable, LLC, Collected appears poised for a big 4-year-old campaign.With earnings of $480,500, he has five wins and a second from eight career starts.
CUPID: Idle since well beaten in the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 24, he’s easily the leading money earner in the Californian field with winnings of $1,336,803.A 4-year-old colt by Tapit, he won three graded stakes last year; the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Rebel, the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Indiana Derby and the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles West Virginia Derby.Owned by Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier, Cupid enters the Californian fresh and should therefore be on or near the early lead.He has four wins and a second from nine career starts.
PROSPECT PARK: Although his lone graded stakes win came on turf, this impeccably bred 5-year-old horse by Tapit returns to the main track following his best effort in recent memory, a 3 ¼ length turf allowance win here on March 9.Owned and bred by Pam and Martin Wygod, Prospect Park appears to be coming to his best for Cliff Sise.With Kent Desormeaux opting to stick with Follow Me Crev, he’ll be ridden for the first time by Flavien Prat.With a Santa Anita main track record of 10-2-4-1, he’s 17-4-7-2 overall with earnings of $515,770.
THE GRADE II CALIFORNIAN STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 10 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT
1. Collected—Martin Garcia--122
2. Cupid—Rafael Bejarano—124
3. Prospect Park—Flavien Prat—122
4. Prime Attraction—Santiago Gonzalez—122
5. Texas Ryano—Mike Smith—126
6. Follow Me Crev—Kent Desormeaux--122
Source: Santa Anita Park