2012 San Felipe Stakes Picks and Analysis
Road to the Kentucky Derby 2012
Creative Cause seeks return to best form versus nine rivals in 75th San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita
San Felipe Stakes, Santa Anita, Race 9, Saturday, March 10, 2012
3-Year-Olds, Grade II, 1 1/16-Miles, Dirt, Purse $300,000
San Felipe Stakes Picks
1. Creative Cause
2. Midnight Transfer
San Felipe Stakes Analysis
Creative Cause makes his second start off a 14-week layoff in the 75th running of the San Felipe Stakes-G2 on Saturday and the race should set up perfectly for him. He finished rather evenly in his comeback race, the 7-furlong San Vicente-G2 at Santa Anita, despite what some reports say, but theres no question that last years Norfolk Stakes-G1 winner will appreciate the added distance of the San Felipe. Leading Santa Anita rider Joel Rosario had a choice between Creative Cause, recent San Pedro Stakes winner Midnight Transfer, and stablemate Empire Way, for this race, and he chose Creative Cause. That fact combined with his proven class and favorable pace scenario makes him the pick.
Midnight Transfer attempts a route of ground for the first time in his 5-start career off a lay-it-down win in the 6 -furlong San Pedro Stakes on January 22 at Santa Anita. He was up close to fast fractions early in that race, dropped back on the turn, then cocked his head for the drive and dug in to get up by a desperate head on the outside. He should have enough pedigree to get the distance and a smart ride by Victor Espinoza would have him sitting just off the pace, allowing him to get first run on the tiring speed into the stretch. His best attribute however, is his attitude. He wanted to win that last race.
Bodemeister was very impressive in his second lifetime start on February 11, winning a Maiden Special Weight by 9 -lengths going a mile at Santa Anita. But it wasnt the margin of victory or the 101 Beyer Speed Figure he earned, rather it was the fact that he showed excellent natural speed, rated kindly when asked and then sprinted away from the field in the stretch while still trying to find his sea legs. Slightly uncoordinated and a little green, who knows what kind of upside this colt by Empire Maker has. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Raphael Bejarano, Bodemeister could be very tough if he keeps moving in the right direction.
Blingo makes his first start since finishing sixth beaten 2 -lengths in the Cash Call Futurity-G1 on December 17. He broke his maiden on the grass in his first start going a mile at Hollywood Park with a good sweeping move and did finish well in the Cash Call Futurity. Trained by John Shirreffs, hes had some good six-furlong works but this will be his first start on conventional dirt against some salty company. Not out of the question if theres a major pace meltdown.
American Act just missed with a good pace try in the 7-furlong San Vicente Stakes-G2 at Santa Anita on February 19. He was headed at the sixteenth pole and appeared to be put away, but he refused to quit and came back late miss by inches. The problem is that he meets higher quality speed in this race and more of it.
Liaison is tough to figure out after clipping heels and losing his rider in his first start back off a 9-week layoff in the R B Lewis-G2 at Santa Anita on February 4. Last years Cash Call Futurity winner had a tight trip throughout in the Lewis and never really got untracked before clipping heels in the stretch when two horses squeezed him. The Lewis was won by a 43-1 shot. Liaison now gets blinkers off for his second start off the layoff and gets a new rider in Matt Garcia, as regular rider Raphael Bejarano sticks with fellow Baffert trainee Bodemeister.
Rousing Sermon had some minor trouble and was wide throughout in his first start back off a 6-week layoff in the R B Lewis, finishing fourth beaten 6 -lengths. Narrowly beaten by Liaison in last years Cash Call Futurity, the California Cup Juvenile winner will need to improve off his even finish in the Lewis, but he has Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in his corner and deserves one more shot to prove he belongs off his good 2-year-old form and the predicted pace scenario. He will also be good odds.
Groovin Solo gets blinkers off again after drifting in and forcing Liaison to clip heels in the R B Lewis. He finished third beaten 5 -lengths in that race and did steady after clipping heels, but he was never going to get close than two lengths to the winner. Tiz Point adds to the early pace and we just cant see him sticking around late with this bunch on the class raise after winning a one-mile N1X turf allowance in wire-to-wire fashion at Santa Anita on February 18.
For those of you who love the angle of betting the horse with the better odds when a trainer has two horses in the same race, Empire Way might be your horse. Trained by Mike Harrington, who also saddles morning-line favorite Creative Cause, Empire Way does have a few things going for him. He has a steadily improving pattern of Beyer Speed Figures and he makes his second start off a 6-week layoff. In his first start back he finished second beaten 2 -lengths in the R B Lewis after a decent trip inside. Hell have to overcome his wide post 10, but this race should set up for his rally.
The race sets up with Bodemeister, American Act, Tiz Point and maybe Midnight Transfer ensuring an honest pace. Well take Creative Cause on class, trip and expected improvement as he makes his second start off the layoff, and well use Midnight Transfer and Bodemeister to round out the exacta. Midnight Transfer could actually sit just off the leaders and get first run into the stretch and Bodemeister appears to have unlimited upside at this point. Well also use Blingo as an exacta longshot and look for his long sweeping move late.