A runaway winner in both career starts, Bayern will step up to make his stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita. The 1 1/16-mile test is part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" scoring series and offers points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers.
Bayern is the likely favorite following a 15-length allowance romp in his two-turn debut on February 13. The Bob Baffert-trained colt is playing catch-up from an experience standpoint, making his career bow on January 4, but he appears long on talent with the top last-race BRIS Speed rating (99) among San Felipe entrants. A dark bay son of Offlee Wild, Bayern will break from post 6 with regular rider Gary Stevens.
California Chrome is another promising colt being tested for class. Conditioned by Art Sherman, the Lucky Pulpit colt exits a pair of sharp stakes wins over California-bred foes, taking the seven-furlong King Florious by 6 1/4 lengths prior to a 5 1/2-length score in the 1 1/16-mile California Cup Derby on January 25. His BRIS Speed ratings rose significantly in those starts and the improving chestnut retains the services of Victor Espinoza.
Midnight Hawk will look to make amends for a third in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis as the favorite. After opening his racing career with a 6 1/4-length maiden win in mid-December, the Baffert charge captured the Grade 3 Sham on January 11. Mike Smith, who has been up for all three starts aboard the speedy colt, rides.
Kristo has been freshened off a runner-up in the Sham. After dropping his first two starts in sprints, the Distorted Humor colt found his best form around two turns, recording a 6 3/4-length maiden tally, and the John Sadler trainee will receive an interesting jockey switch to Joel Rosario.
Unstoppable Colby invades for D. Wayne Lukas following a maiden win at Oaklawn Park and Schoolofhardrocks will make his first appearance for David Hofmans since capturing his career debut at Del Mar. Home Run Kitten exits a fifth in the Lewis and Recanted will go turf to dirt for Doug O'Neill in his second U.S. start. A pair of maidens, Rprettyboydfloyd and Sawyer's Hill, complete the field.