Grade 3 Sham Stakes winner Out of Bounds, one of the West's major Triple Crown contenders, is scheduled to work five furlongs on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track Monday in his final major drill for Saturday's Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes.
"The horse is doing well," trainer Eoin Harty said. "I've got to put one more work into him on Monday morning and if everything goes well, we should be over at Santa Anita at the end of the week."
The San Felipe will mark the return of Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez, who piloted Out of Bounds to a half-length victory in the Sham on January 7, but has been sidelined since January 8 with a broken left heel suffered in a pre-post parade mishap prior to the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes. The 40-year-old Gomez is one of four jockeys who are finalists on this year's ballot for election to racing's Hall of Fame, along with Calvin Borel, Alex Solis and John Velazquez.
The San Felipe is shaping up as the most contentious prep for the April 7 Santa Anita Derby of any of the stepping stones to that Grade 1 race that offers $750,000 in purse money.
Out of Bounds, a chestnut homebred son of Discreet Cat owned by Darley Stable, will be making his first start in two months, but the 49-year Harty, a protégé of three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Baffert, exercises patience by design when it comes to his precocious three-year-olds.
Out of Bounds made his first start last October 22, broke his maiden December 10, then won the Sham on January 7.
"I just want to get to the (Kentucky) Derby with him (on May 5)," Harty said when explaining his regimen, "and I want to make sure I get him there in the best shape possible. I figured this was the best way to do it."
If all goes well in the San Felipe, Harty plans to run Out of Bounds in the Santa Anita Derby prior to the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.
Despite a strong line-up looming for the San Felipe, Harty is content with Out of Bounds.
"I wouldn't change places with anybody right now," the native of Dublin said.
In other San Felipe news:
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert was noncommittal about his trio of possibles -- allowance romper Fed Biz, Grade 1 CashCall Futurity winner Liaison and/or smashing maiden winner Bodemeister -- saying only that he would "run two in the San Felipe."
Bodemeister worked five furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track Sunday in company with Secret Circle, winner of the second division of the Grade 3 Southwest last time.
Both were clocked in 1:00 2/5, with Rafael Bejarano aboard Bodemeister and Martin Garcia guiding Secret Circle.
San Pedro winner Midnight Transfer, who will make his two-turn debut in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe, worked four furlongs in :49 for Carla Gaines. Victor Espinoza was in the saddle.
Grade 3 Delta Jackpot winner Sabercat worked six furlongs in 1:12 3/5, but at this point might not reappear in the San Felipe.
Scott Blasi, assistant to Steve Asmussen, said that the drill was good, but added that he thinks Asmussen is "leaning towards the (Grade 2) Rebel" at Oaklawn Park on March 17.
Mike Harrington is also weighing his San Felipe options. The trainer said Sunday morning that Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis runner-up Empire Way is definite for the San Felipe, while Grade 2 San Vicente third-place finisher Creative Cause is "50-50" for the race.
"Joel Rosario will ride one of them," Harrington said.
Empire Way worked five furlongs on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track Saturday in 1:01, while Creative Cause is scheduled to have "a short work" Tuesday.
CashCall Futurity runner-up Rousing Sermon worked four furlongs at Hollywood Sunday in a bullet :46 3/5. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee turned in the fastest of 22 works at the distance on the Cushion Track. Like Liaison, Rousing Sermon is aiming to bounce back from a subpar run in the Lewis.
The John Shirreffs-trained Blingo, last seen finishing a sneakily-good sixth in the CashCall, worked six furlongs at Hollywood Saturday in a bullet 1:12.
Also listed as probable for the San Felipe are American Act, who just missed in the San Vicente, and Hometown Hero.