Longshots worth playing over uncertain favorites in San Felipe
2017 San Felipe Stakes-G2, Race 5, Santa Anita, Saturday, March 11, 2017
3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16-miles, Dirt, Purse: $400,000
The 80th running of the San Felipe Stakes-G2 is extremely tough to handicap and you might just want to play longshot flyers instead of trying to decipher the winner at a short price.
The speed of the race is Iliad, who comes off a 3 1/2-length win in the 7-furlong San Vincent-G2 at Santa Anita on February 12. He looked like he was having some fun that day in his first start off the layoff and now he'll be asked to stretch out. He has enough pedigree, but these are tougher, and he won't likely be running away from them in the stretch.
Could Iliad win? Yes, but likely at a terrible price.
Mastery, Gormley, Vending Machine and Ann Arbor Eddie could all make a run at Iliad on the turn, and if more than of them goes, that should be enough to tire him out. Trying to figure out which of the challengers will be around at the end is the tougher call, but we might have another plan.
The undefeated Mastery makes his first start off the layoff for trainer Bob Baffert, who has won this race five times, and Mike Smith, who won this race last year. Mastery broke his maiden at Santa Anita, so he's proven over the track, and he's won at the distance, romping in the Los Alamitos Futurity-G1 last year when he looked like he might get beat. He's worked a couple of bullets and definitely has the talent to win this if he's fully ready. He's also got enough speed to go early if he feels like it.
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Gormley was game winning his first start as a 3-year-old going a mile in the slop and holding on to win the Sham Stakes-G3 by a head, but he had to duel down the lane and we're wondering if that might have taken something out of him. Trainer John Shirreffs won this race in 2006 and jockey Victor Espinoza has won this race twice. Gormley has the fitness edge and he could get a nice pressing trip, but these are better than he faced in his last. If he moves early they might turn him back on straight talent.
Ann Arbor Eddie is a hard trying sort that broke his maiden at Santa Anita and won the restricted California Cup Derby at today's distance at that track on January 28. He then finished a game second at Golden Gate in the El Camino Real Derby-G3 before being disqualified to fourth for drifting out. We get the feeling he's another who is facing much tougher today, but he can make a run on the turn. Not enticing, even at 8-1.
Vending Machine looked decent winning the Eddie Logan going a mile on the turf at Santa Anita on December 30, but came back to duel and fizzle over the synthetic in the California Derby at Golden Gate in his next start. The winner of that race, So Conflated, came back to run poorly in the Gotham Stakes-G2, so we're just not sure of Vending Machine's class. He's also another that could make a run at the leaders if they start to battle early on the turn, and he has won twice against much lesser company at Santa Anita. Claimed for $50,000 by top trainer Peter Miller, at huge odds he might be worth a flyer for a trainer with a 30% win clip.
The final horse we'll mention is Term of Art, who defeated Vending Machine in the CBD Mile at Del Mar last year. Term of Art finished up the track in Gormley's sloppy Sham Stakes win, and came back to run a plodding fourth in the RB Lewis-G3 at Santa Anita on February 4, but lone speeder Royal Mo ran away from the field that day. Term of Art may not have the talent of some of these, but he may be the only real closer in the race.
There are just too many questions regarding the favorites in the San Felipe to play any of them with confidence. So instead, we'll bet both Term of Art and Vending Machine to win and wheel them up and down to the board in exactas, hoping all the superstars go at it on the turn and set the race up for our horses to run 1-2.
Both Term of Art and Vending Machine are listed at 20-1 on the morning line. They don't have the accolades of their more heralded rivals, but they might just get great trips. Win or lose, a few in here will likely be going on to the Kentucky Derby. The pair we're betting on likely won't.
These are not the kind of horses you bet your house on, but for a small outlay at big odds, they're worth a shot today.
This race is their Derby.
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