Most recently a well beaten third by top older horse Gift Box going a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes on Dec. 28, trainer John Shirreffs is quietly confident about Midcourt's chances going a mile and one eighth in Saturday's G2 San Pasqual Stakes.
“He kind of stumbled away from the gate in the San Antonio,” said Shirreffs on Thursday. “Victor (Espinoza) said he thought the ground broke away from under him. Then he got carried wide by Pete Eurton's horse (Draft Pick, also owned by C R K Stable) going into the first turn and you knew it was gonna be pretty tough from there.
“Horses weren't closing that day, but he did make a good run, so we were happy with that. With this horse, just getting away from the gate well is important…He needs to get into stride and when he does, he's much more comfortable.”
A winner of last year's G1 Santa Anita Derby, Bob Baffert's Roadster has drawn the rail in the field of ten.
“I got the damn rail again,” mused Baffert on Thursday morning. “This horse is doing really well. He got too far back early in that race, but he came running. I'd like to see him in the race a little more…I'm happy to see we got a large field.”
Dating back to 1999 with Silver Charm, Baffert has won the San Pasqual a record five times, most recently with Hoppertunity in 2015.
The San Pasqual, race eight on Saturday: Roadster, (7-2) Joel Rosario; Route Six Six, (20-1) Jose Valdivia, Jr.; Restrainedvengence, (4-1) Abel Cedillo; King Abner, (4-1) Flavien Prat; Midcourt, (3-1) Victor Espinoza; Instagrand, (12-1) Umberto Rispoli; California Street, (12-1) Mike Smith; Two Thirty Five, (8-1) Ruben Fuentes; Bold Endeavor, (30-1) Mario Gutierrez and Combatant, (10-1) Drayden Van Dyke.
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