Saturday’s $400,000 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita will feature a short but salty field of 3-year-olds competing for a combined 85 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier (50-20-10-5 to top four finishers). Seven were entered for the 1 1/16-mile race, but Cupid will be scratched by Bob Baffert in favor of the Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park a week later.
Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby winner, will still be represented by top contender Mor Spirit, the 2-1 favorite on the San Felipe morning line. Winner of the Robert B. Lewis (G3) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in his last two outings, Mor Spirit currently ranks fifth on the Leaderboard with a total of 24 points. The late-running son of Eskendereya will retain the services of three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Gary Stevens.
Exaggerator, who exits a good second to undefeated champion 2-year-old Nyquist in the February 15 San Vicente (G2), also merits serious respect. A two-time graded stakes winner at two, Exaggerator will be stretching out to a more favorable two-turn distance off the 7-furlong San Vicente and is listed as the early 5-2 second choice. Kent Desormeaux, a three-time Kentucky Derby scorer, rides for his brother, trainer Keith Desormeaux.
Smokey Image, an unbeaten California-bred conditioned by Carla Gaines, will try open company for the first time and hopes to follow the path of 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome, who switched from California-bred company with a resounding victory in the San Felipe. And he’ll have three-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza, the regular rider of American Pharoah and California Chrome, in the saddle.
Danzing Candy is an exciting prospect making his stakes bow off a pair of impressive wins during the current Santa Anita meet, breaking his maiden by 3 ¼ lengths on December 26 before recording a 5 ¾-length triumph over allowance foes on February 4. Mike Smith will ride the front-running colt for trainer Cliff Sise Jr.
Uncle Lino and I Will Score, the runner-up and third-place finisher behind Mor Spirit in the Robert Lewis, add further depth to a solid San Felipe field.
Mor Spirit photo courtesy of Benoit Photos