Recent graded stakes winning Oscar Dominguez, a 7-year-old Irish-bred gelding, heads a field of seven older horses going a marathon mile and one half on turf in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. Trained by Richard Baltas, who heads the Winter Meet standings with 21 victories, Oscar Dominguez will be ridden for the first time by Italian-born Umberto Rispoli, who is now represented by highly respected veteran agent Scotty McClellan.
McClellan, who over a span of five-plus decades has represented top riders such as Darrel McHargue, Chris McCarron and Alex Solis, had been idle since Joe Talamo shifted his tack to Oaklawn Park in early January.
Most recently a close third to top turf horse United in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at a mile and one quarter Feb. 1, Oscar Dominguez was a late running winner of the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup two starts back on Dec. 1 and should relish the mile and one half distance on Saturday.
Trainer Mike Puype's California-bred Ward 'n Jerry finished less than half a length behind Oscar Dominguez when third in the Hollywood Turf Cup and he comes off a second place finish versus state-breds in the Cal Cup Turf Classic at a mile and one eighth here on Jan. 18.
Trainer Steve Knapp's Swamp Souffle ran huge in his first race off of a $32,000 claim, daylighting a starter allowance field at a mile and one quarter on dirt here Feb. 29. With three wins from nine tries on grass, he's a dangerous horse that may employ front-running tactics.
California-bred Ashleyluvssugar, who won the 2015 San Luis Rey, will be making history on Saturday, as it's believed he's the only horse in Santa Anita history to start in the same race a total of four times. Winless in his last 15 starts, dating back to May, 2017, the 9-year-old gelding by Game Plan will be a longshot with Brice Blanc up.
OSCAR DOMINGUEZ – Owner: Nancy Messineo & Bruce Sands; Trainer: Richard Baltas
Claimed for $40,000 eight starts back on Feb. 7, 2019, winning two races and finishing off the board just twice in his seven starts with team Baltas. Best suited as a deep closer, he rallied from last to finish third, beaten three quarters of a length by United in the San Marcos and rates a huge chance under turf master Rispoli at a mile and one half on Saturday. With one win from four starts in his native Ireland, “Oscar” is now 38-6-6-5 with earnings of $451,630. A winner of the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup two starts back and close in all of his last five starts, all graded stakes, he's strictly the horse to beat in the San Luis Rey.
WARD 'N JERRY – Owner: Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams; Trainer: Mike Puype
Third, beaten a neck by Oscar Dominguez two starts back in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup, this 7-year-old California-bred gelding by Luck Pulpit disappointed when second as the 2-1 favorite in the mile and one eighth Cal Cup Turf Classic. A first condition allowance winner in open company going 1 3/8 miles on turf three starts back at Del Mar on Aug. 28, Ward 'n Jerry should appreciate the mile and one half trip on Saturday with leading man Flavien Prat taking over in the saddle. With five wins from 19 starts, Ward 'n Jerry, who has never run for a claiming tag, will be seeking his first stakes win.
SWAMP SOUFFLE – Owner: Steve Knapp, Sabina Romo-Zolotas & Steven Zolotas; Trainer: Steve Knapp
Claimed out of a sixth place effort going 1 1/8 miles on turf two starts back for $32,000, this 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Bodemeister ran the race of his career in taking a starter allowance at 1 ¼ miles on dirt by 2 ¾ lengths Feb. 29. Ridden for the first time by Rispoli, he pressed the early pace and opened up by three lengths heading to the far turn in a dominant performance. With Rispoli committed to Oscar Dominguez, Mario Gutierrez takes over on a much improved horse who may opt to press the likes of Ashleyluvssugar for early supremacy.
G3 SAN LUIS REY STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 7 of 9 Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
- Swamp Souffle—Mario Gutierrez—120
- Camino Del Paraiso—Tiago Pereira—120
- Ashleyluvssugar—Brice Blanc—120
- Oscar Dominguez—Umberto Rispoli—124
- Go for a Ride—Edwin Maldonado—120
- Ward 'n Jerry—Flavien Prat—120
- French Getaway—Rafael Bejarano–120
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. PT. In accordance with health dictates issued by the state of California, and in the local, state and national effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, there will be no public admittance at Santa Anita until further notice.
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