Little Stakes Continuity in Cal 3YO Stakes
By Dick Downey
The Sham Stakes kicked off Santa Anita's series of races for 3-year-olds, followed by the Robert B. Lewis. Saturday's field of seven in the San Felipe Stakes embodies only two runners from those races.
Gormley, winner of the Sham, figiures to be a force in the San Felipe. More questionable is the outlook for Term of Art, who was beaten a combined 23 1/2 lengths in the two races -- although he did finish about 11 lengths closer to the winner in the latter one.
Gormley broke his maiden at first asking and was a three-length winner of the Frontrunner Stakes on Oct. 1, but he was subsequently well beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He returned in the one-mile Sham on Jan. 7 and won over a sloppy track, running his record to three wins from four starts. He's has been on or just off the lead in all three wins. Trained by John Shirreffs and to be ridden by Victor Espinoza, Gormley will vie for top billing with Mastery among bettors.
Mastery is undefeated in three starts for Bob Baffert. The San Felipe will be his first race since winning the Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 10 at the San Felipe distance. That was his first two-turn race. Like Gormley, Mastery likes to run on the lead. Odds-on in all three starts, Mastery will be ridden for the third time in a row by Mike Smith, who took last year’s San Felipe on Danzing Candy.
Sure to get support at the windows, Iliad comes off a 3 1/2 length win going a fast seven furlongs in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 12. That was his first start for trainer Doug O’Neill, who got him after owner Kaleem Shah and Bob Baffert severed business ties. Despite the early speed typically shown by Gormley and Mastery, Iliad could be on the early San Felipe lead while going two turns for the first time. He'll be ridden by Flavien Prat, who was aboard for the San Vicente win.
O'Neill, who also trains Term of Art, has a third entry in the San Felipe, Ann Arbor Eddie. On Jan. 28, Ann Arbor Eddie outbid his nearest rival, California Diamond, by a half-length to win the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita after an exhausting stretch run. Ann Arbor Eddie crossed the finish line second in the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 18, but he was disqualified to fourth after drifting out in the stretch against his rider's wishes and interfering with Tribal Storm.
Vending Machine, trained by Peter Miller, was claimed for $50,000 on Sept. 2 out of his second start. He won his third start, and first for Miller, in a one-mile $50,000 claimer on Oct. 2, won an allowance race in November, and was second in the off-the-turf Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar on Nov. 27. Vending Machine rallied on the grass to take the Eddie Logan Stakes on Dec. 30 at Santa Anita. Last time out, he finished sixth of seven, beaten seven lengths by So Conflated in the California Derby on Golden Gate's synthetic track.
Bluegrass Envy, a five-race maiden that's been running at Gulfstream Park, rounds out the San Felipe field.
Kentucky Derby points are available in the San Felipe -- 85 of them -- with 50 going to the winner.
The San Felipe Stakes is race 5 of 11 on Saturday with a post time of approximately 5:30 ET. The weather is expected to be dry with a high in the 80's.
Entries in post position order
1 Term of Art, Tyler Baze, Doug O'Neill
2 Vending Machine, Norberto Arroyo, Jr., Peter Miller
3 Ann Arbor Eddie, Mario Gutierrez, Doug O'Neill
4 Mastery, Mike Smith, Bob Baffert
5 Gormley, Victor Espinoza, John Shirreffs
6 Iliad, Flavien Prat, Doug O'Neill
7 Bluegrass Envy, Jacob Radosevich, Creque Rasham
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