Horse-by-Horse Analysis of Saturday's San Felipe Stakes @SA

It is Baffert v. Baffert in this contest. Or is it? Who will win? Check out our analysis below...
It is Baffert v. Baffert in this contest. Or is it? Who will win? Check out our analysis below...

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1 1/16th (Dirt), San Felipe Stakes (G2), Purse $400k, 3

Winners of this race, the San Felipe at “The Great Race Place,” are a list of some celebrated royalty when it comes to Thoroughbred racing. Bob Baffert of course, leads the charge with a total of 7—Authentic, Mastery, Dortmund, Pioneerof the Nile, Prechinatthebar, Point Given, and Prime Timber. Recent contests have put Kentucky Derby Points on the line to the tune of 50-20-10-5, respectively. One might argue that this race could be one of the most important Preps on the schedule this spring. Baffert brings a strong hand to the table once again, but there are some other runners that are not going to simply laydown without a fight. A hotly contested pace is bound to be in our future. Grab some popcorn because it is going to be quite a show!

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Life Is Good (Jky: M. Smith/Trn: B. Baffert):

Here is what many would consider Bob Baffert’s No.1… LIG is a strong colt by “Super Sire” Into Mischief. Most will look at those last 2 efforts and presume that he is headed in the proper direction. It is tough to argue against that after his conditioner, and also his jockey, Mike Smith, see his development to be meteoric. Baffert always seems to have these horses that are just like uncontrollable juggernauts. Thank goodness for reins… Coming into this race, it is going to be a titanic matchup with Baffert’s other entry, the buzz-worthy router, Medina Spirit. Honestly, other than telling the jocks to just go out and win this thing, I am not sure what else I would say, if I were Baffert. If LIG can stretch out and keep Medina Spirit at bay, he has a great shot to win. The only aspect of this argument that appears flawed, is the fact that there is some quality competition in here, outside of Baffert’s pair. If either wobbles, which is possible, then others will most certainly pounce.

Grade: B+


#2 Dream Shake (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: P. Eurton):

Peter Eurton’s colt by Twirling Candy was fab in that debut back on 7 Feb. He certainly turned some heads at 20/1. It is also because he bested by a long shot, Baffert’s expensive Bezos, who failed to impress. Now, the dreams are getting bigger, as he takes on elite SoCal company. If he had to run his best last time in that MSW, then what is he going to have to do on Saturday? I just think it is going to be too steep a climb, especially considering who else is drawn in here. I know Joel Rosario can spring a variety of different kinds of upsets, but even he is not a magician. Very nice horse with a bright future is a comment that comes to mind, despite that stellar maiden.

Grade: C+


#3 Medina Spirit (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: B. Baffert):

I am always impressed with clockers who can discern the slightest of nuisances when it comes to a workout. Someone once told me that an accurate breeze sheet can do wonders for your handicapping. I don’t disagree. Looking at this colt by Protonico, who is not a sire you might be familiar with, he has really put in 2 solid exercises in prep for this spot. When you are a 3-yr-old, and are sent out to 6F, it can be a test. That is the age-old question for trainers (ala Secretariat…), should you work ‘em hard before a big race or layback and go easy… My take is that Baffert wanted this one to be ready for anything and sought a stern schedule. He did not disappoint. Some of the scuttle from the Bob Lewis (G3) was that the colt wanted to keep going after that stretch re-rally. Gutsy performances can lead to more of them… Having John Velazquez come to SoCal to ride is a major sign of things to come. He does not show just for looks. Personally, I like this runner very much, and he would be my sole top pick were it not for another that has major potential.

Grade: A-


#4 None Above the Law (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: P. Miller):

Peter Miller has turned this Karakontie offspring into a router after spending a bit of time running shorter. He also tried the turf, which is no surprise since his sire is steeped in the stuff. Sending him into this spot seems a bit pie-in-the-sky. How will this gelding handle such a jump—no earthly? But Miller isn’t risk-averse; instead, he is more like a riverboat gambler. The point is, this entry is going to need every ounce that he mustered last time in the Cal Cup 200k last time, and then he will need to double it. The attack plan for jockey Flavien Prat, you ask? The plan… attack!

Grade: C


#5 The Great One (Jky: A. Cedillo/Trn: D. O’Neill):

Here is my pick to upset the Baffert apple cart. This colt might be a flash in the pan to some, but I don’t think so. After much thought over the course of this week, especially after I tendered my latest NTRA submission, was that Doug O’Neill has a ringer in his barn. This son of Nyquist might be 3rd choice in the ranks, but under these circs, he has incredible upside. The LA Futurity could have gone his way… but alas… it did not. However, what did, was that last MSW contest at Santa Anita, which was absolutely glorious. He won by a whopping 14 lengths! I know that was a short field, but my sense is that he is ready to move up the ladder even further. His conditioner has already travelled the Trail many times and has 2 wins to show for it (one by this sire btw…). Abel Cedillo as pilot, is going to have to work out the proverbial trip, but he has a jet propulsion engine under him. The major challenge is calibrating it by not allowing either of the Bafferts to get too loose on the lead. If he can do that, I think he has a major advantage as the wire arrives.  

Grade: A-


#6 Governor’s Party (Jky: M. Gutierrez/Trn: D. Franko):

If there is a true long shot in this race, then this son of Govenor Charlie is it. It is tough enough that Golden Gate entries, when they draw elsewhere, get little in the way of respect. There just isn’t enough class, speed, and talent to go up against this group. It would be difficult to see Mario Gutierrez making an impact either. Hitting the board will be a major challenge, to say the least. Sorry Dan Franko, you are a good trainer, but this is a shot in the dark. I guess that’s horse racing…

Grade: D


#7 Roman Centurian (Jky: JJ Hernandez/Trn: S. Callaghan):

Simon Callaghan is SoCal trainer who every year has 1 or 2 runners that bettors get extremely excited about when it comes to potential. Over the years, he has had some doozies. This time around it is this salty dog out of Empire Maker. Last time he ran, he effectively built on a MSW race before that was a win. The Bob Lewis may have seen the ascendancy of Baffert’s No.2, but it also got people interested in this Callaghan colt. It is very difficult to come from behind on dirt, so money moves like that from “off it” are quite celebrated. This Meet has watched as Juan Hernandez reached a milestone in wins, which seems to apply to any surface, class, and distance. I am confident that we will be seeing him cross the wire 1st for years to come. It just will not be this time around.

Grade: B


Join us Saturday for all of our selections! Should be a great set of races from “The Great Race Place!”

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