Sea of Pleasure leads a field of nine colts and geldings, each seeking a first graded stakes victory, in the about 6 1/2-furlong test.
The Sea of Secrets colt, owned in partnership by Steve and Terry Burnett, Bruno DeJulio, Bill Letuzinger and Sergio Bohon, romped to a three-length victory in the Sophomore Sprint at six furlongs on the Bay Meadows dirt track Feb. 16. It was the first stakes victory for the Illinois bred.
Sea of Pleasure showed a dimension in the Sophomore Sprint that he had not displayed in his three prior starts, sitting off the pace in second for a half-mile before forging to the front leaving the turn. He maintained a clear advantage through the lane as the 3-10 favorite and won under urging from jockey Russell Baze, who will be replaced in the Baldwin by David Flores.
"It’s good to know he can come off the pace," Stute said. "You like to know they can pass horses.”
Sky Cape has not been worse than second in three starts on the turf for trainer Kristin Mulhall and is coming off a 2 1/4-length allowance win down the hill as the 7-5 choice Jan. 17. The Najran colt finished second in both the Eddie Logan and Pinjara stakes at one mile on the Santa Anita grass prior to that.
Corey Nakatani, out of action since breaking his right collarbone in a training accident at Hollywood Park on Jan. 19, has been named on Sky Cape. Owned by the partnership of Blue, Taub and Visionary Racing, Sky Cape has won two of nine starts while placing in three stakes races for earnings of $115,380. Nakatani has been aboard in the chestnut’s last four starts.
Barber & Barber's D. Double You comes into the Baldwin off back-to-back wins for trainer Peter Miller, including a 1 1/4-length win in an allowance race on the hillside Feb. 16. The Lion Hearted colt is ridden again by Rafael Bejarano.
Ten Meropa makes his U.S. debut for trainer Ral Ayers, who is substituting for the suspended Jeff Mullins. The son of Johannesburg won once in five starts in England in 2007, that victory coming on a synthetic track at Wolverhampton.
Wertheimer et Frere's homebred Returning, trained by Richard Mandella, presents an intriguing possibility. Making his maiden debut on the hillside Feb. 10 at odds of 6-1, the Forest Wildcat colt won by a neck in a game effort.
Doc On the Rock also won his debut effort at odds of 11-1 for trainer Doug O'Neill. Doc On the Rock went 5 1/2 furlongs on the front end to win by two lengths on the main track Feb. 10.
California-bred Italian Rules, winner of the Stinson Beach for trainer Mark Glatt at Golden Gate Fields in January, has won two of his three starts, all on synthetic surface.
$100,000 Baldwin Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Ten Meropa (KY), 115, Tyler Baze
2. Sea of Pleasure (IL), 117, David R. Flores
3. D. Double You (MD), 117, Rafael Bejarano
4. Nevada Worrier (CA), 115, Jon K. Court
5. Sky Cape (KY), 117, Corey S. Nakatani
6. Doc On the Rock (FL), 115, Michael C. Baze
7. Standing High (KY), 115, Alonso Quinonez
8. Italian Rules (CA), 117, Joel Rosario
9. Returning (KY), 115, Victor Espinoza