The San Rafael is one of three graded races on the 11-race program at Santa Anita. The others are the $200,000 San Fernando (gr. II), the second leg of the Strub series, and the $150,000 San Pasqual (gr. II), which was rescheduled after racing was canceled at the Arcadia, Calif., track, Jan. 12.
With uncertainty surrounding the condition of Santa Anita's new Cushion Track racing surface due to heavy rains recently and a poorly functioning vertical drainage system, several horses missed training time and will not be running in the one-mile San Rafael. Among them was Zayat Stables' Maimonides, third in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, who was held out of the first two-turn graded stakes of the year by trainer Bob Baffert.
Instead, owner Ahmed Zayat and Baffert will be represented by Massive Drama, winner of Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) one month prior to his CashCall Futurity effort. Massive Drama tracked close to the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Futurity Dec. 22, his first race beyond seven furlongs, but drifted out in the stretch while holding third. The Kafwain colt finished 1 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Into Mischief.
Purchased for $485,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Sale as a yearling in 2006, Massive Drama has won two of his three lifetime starts for earnings of $199,200. The dark bay will be ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano, who replaces Kent Desormeaux.
Massive Drama is the lone graded winner in the field but several others have shown outstanding potential. One is the Todd Pletcher trainee Talk of a Cat, who broke his maiden by an eye-catching 5 1/2 lengths over 6 1/2 furlongs in a time of 1:14 2/5 at Hollywood Dec. 1. Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor paid $625,000 for the Tale of the Cat colt at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga yearling sale in August 2006. The chestnut has two lifetime starts, finishing third in his debut at Keeneland Oct. 25, and is to be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who was aboard in the Hollywood victory.
El Gato Malo has done nothing wrong in his two career tries, winning them both by a combined margin of nearly 10 lengths for trainer Craig Dollase. The El Corredor gelding, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, won his debut by 5 1/2 lengths Nov. 18 at Hollywood, then stretched out from six furlongs to a mile to easily capture the Gold Rush at Golden Gate Fields Dec. 15.
Previously ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, who recently had his license terminated by state racing authorities for an alcohol-related violation, El Gato Malo will be ridden this time by the red-hot David Flores, who is clicking at 31% at Santa Anita this season.
Two other colts exit from the CashCall Futurity, Sierra Sunset and Indian Sun.
Sierra Sunset, the most experienced campaigner in the field with eight starts (three resulting in victories), won the California Cup Juvenile over the Santa Anita surface Nov. 3. The son of Bertrando came back to split the field when sixth in the Futurity for trainer Jeff Bonde.
Indian Sun had three starts on grass -- with a win and two-second place showings -- before trying the Cushion Track for the first time in the Futurity, in which he finished fifth. The Indian Charlie colt was previously second behind The Leopard in the one-mile Generous (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood turf.
Overbid, a Pulpit colt that sold for $450,000 to Southern Equine Stable during Keeneland's April 2007 sale, came from off the pace to win his debut effort at six furlongs Dec. 8 for trainer Eric Guillot.
Irish-bred Spinning Sound adds blinkers for trainer Paddy Gallagher and makes a quick return following a fifth-place finish in the one-mile Eddie Logan on the Santa Anita turf Dec. 29. The Spinning World colt broke his maiden on an all-weather track at Lingfield in England last summer.
$150,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. III, Race 5, 1:45 p.m), 3-Year-Olds, 1 Mile (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. El Gato Malo (KY), 119, David R. Flores
2. Talk of a Cat (KY), 116, Garrett K. Gomez
3. Sierra Sunset (CA), 122, Victor Espinoza
4. Overbid (KY), 116, Michael C. Baze
5. Indian Sun (KY), 116, Alex O. Solis
6. Massive Drama (KY), 119, Rafael Bejarano
7. Spinning Sound (IRE), 116, Tyler Baze