As it often does, the $400,000 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita on Saturday will go a long way toward clarifying the picture regarding the West Coast's leading Kentucky Derby (G1) prospects.
The 1 1/16-mile San Felipe is the final major lead-in to next month's Santa Anita Derby (G1) and awards 50 qualifying points toward Kentucky Derby eligibility, virtually assuring its winner a starting berth at Churchill Downs. Points of 20, 10, and 5 will be given to the next three across the finish line.
On paper, this San Felipe figures to come down to a promising trio of entrants:
Mastery, the Bob Baffert-trained colt absent since his victory in the December 10 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), should be plenty fit off a month-long string of works of six furlongs and longer.
Gormley, who landed the FrontRunner (G1) last fall, kicked off his sophomore campaign with a game, head victory over the Baffert-trained American Anthem in the January 7 Sham (G3) for John Shirreffs.
And then there's Iliad, a speedy son of Ghostzapper who convincingly captured the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) by 3 1/2 lengths on February 12. He's conditioned by Doug O'Neill, who last year used the San Vicente as a springboard to Derby success with his juvenile champion Nyquist.
O'Neill has two others in San Felipe. Term of Art captured the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) last season, but was non-factor in the Sham and Robert B. Lewis (G3). In better form is Ann Arbor Eddie, a two-time stakes winner in California-bred company most recently demoted from second to fourth in the El Camino Real Derby (G3).
The relative outsiders are Vending Machine, who captured the $80,000 Eddie Logan on turf in December, and the maiden Bluegrass Envy.
The San Felipe goes off as the fifth race of 11 on Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap (G1) Day card at the Great Race Place. Post time for the San Felipe is approximately 2:30 p.m. (PST), and the race can be viewed and wagered on at TwinSpires.com.