UPDATE: Santa Anita has cancelled its Saturday racing program due to heavy rain and ongoing drainage problems with its main track Pro-Ride surface.
On Saturday, Santa Anita's 10-race program will feature five stakes races, including the Grade 1 Las Virgenes and a pair of Grade 2s, the Strub and the Robert B. Lewis. The Las Virgenes has attracted a field of six 3-year-old fillies to go once around the all-weather track. Blind Luck will be heavily favored based on her final three starts in 2009—she won the G1 Oak Leaf before finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and ended the year with a seven-length win in G1 Hollywood Starlet. Among those taking on Blind Luck will be Crisp, winner of G3 Santa Ysabel, and Switch, third in G2 Santa Ynez.
Trainer Bob Baffert has his eyes on a couple prizes Saturday. If Misremembered can prove himself in the Strub, he'll head for the Santa Anita Handicap, more familiarly known as the Big 'Cap, next month. Misremembered, a ridgling son of Candy Ride last ran second to M One Rifle in the G1 Malibu. The nine-furlong Strub, for 4-year-olds, has also attracted Smart Bid and Rendezvous, second and third, respectively in the G2 San Fernando.
Baffert hopes to have yet another Kentucky Derby prospect with Tiz Chrome. The son of Tiznow comes into the 1 1/16-mile Robert B. Lewis with just two starts, but his debut at Churchill Downs and his winning performance in the Stuka Stakes at Hollywood were eye-catching. Facing him will be Eoin Harty-trained American Lion, also a son of Tiznow, who won the Hollywood Prevue.
Across the country, Gulfstream Park will be hosting three graded stakes, highlighted by G1 Donn Handicap, for older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Quality Road is high weight at 123 lbs., based on his powerful performance in G3 Hal's Hope where he drew off in the final furlong defeating You and I Forever by nearly three lengths. Quality Road spots six to nine pounds to his nine rivals which include the first four finishers of the Jan. 10 Ft. Lauderdale (G3), as well as You and I Forever.
Hoping to make his 2010 debut a winning one, Court Vision will face five other older horses in the nine-furlong G1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Rick Dutrow trains Court Vision, who ran third in this event last year, losing to Kip DeVille by less than a length. From Todd Pletcher's barn comes Take the Points, a two-time Grade 1 winner in 2009.
Also carded at 1 1/8 miles on the turf is the G3 Suwannee River for older fillies and mares. None of the twelve starters in the body of the race have won a graded stakes, making this a very tough spot to find a favorite. One of the strongest contenders may be Lady Shakespeare, winner of four consecutive races at Woodbine in 2009. Christophe Clement has won the Suwannee River four times and has two entered here—Cable and Astrologie.
In deference to the Super Bowl on Sunday, Santa Anita has an early post, with the G2 San Antonio Handicap to be run at approximately 2:00. Carded as the 7th of eight races, the 1 1/8-mile San Antonio is a major prep for the upcoming Big 'Cap. High-weighted at 120 lbs. is Richard's Kid, upset winner of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last September. The Bob Baffert trainee then ended his 2009 campaign with a sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Also targeting the Big 'Cap is Mast Track, winner of the G3 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park in December.
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