A contentious field of six was entered for the San Gabriel, a nine-furlong grass test. Lang Field was assigned top weight of 119 pounds.
Trained by Art Sherman, the 4-year-old Lang Field produced his first stakes victory at odds of 18-1 in the 1 1/16-mile Citation (gr. IT) in his most recent start Nov. 23. He held off a powerful late charge from the favored Zann to prevail by a neck.
Owned by by Nigel R. Shields, the gray Langfuhr gelding snapped a four-race losing streak in the Citation with a change in tactics from regular rider Jon Court. A prodigious front-runner, Court was able to get a defiant Lang Field to finally settle in mid-pack after an early tussle, and they made their winning bid in the lane while holding on gamely.
The Kentucky-bred Lang Field has four wins in 10 starts in 2007, including a three-race winning streak earlier this year versus allowance foes. He owns a lifetime mark of 6-4-3 in 20 starts with earnings of $422,993, all but about $50,000 of it coming this season.
If Lang Field doesn't go to the front this time, the 3-year-old Daytona figures to be there. The Irish-bred gelding won the 10-furlong Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) on the lead Nov. 25 at odds of 11-2 and gets two pounds from Lang Field in his first start in the U.S. against older horses. Trained by Dan Hendricks, the chestnut son of Indian Ridge held on to win the Hollywood Derby over the fast-closing Medici Code by a half-length in a time of 1:59.75.
Owned by James Davenport, Tom Lenner and Skyline Stables, et al., Daytona also won the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita by 4 1/4 lengths this fall, but didn't require the lead to accomplish it. Mike Smith, who was aboard for both of Daytona's stakes victories, retains the mount.
Medici Code, winner of the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) and Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) this summer, returns in the San Gabriel for trainer Darrell Vienna. Herrick Racing's British-bred gelding confronts older foes for the first time.
Trainer Bobby Frankel has a pair entered in Proudinsky and Storm Military.
Gary Tanaka's German-bred Proudinsky returned from a year's absence to win a one-mile allowance race on the Santa Anita lawn by 1 1/2 lengths Nov. 2. The 4-year-old Silvano colt was most recently third, three-quarters of a length behind Lang Field, in the Citation. The lightly-raced Proudinsky won the Bay Meadows Derby (gr. IIIT) prior to going on the shelf.
The Argentina-bred Storm Military, a back-to-back grade I winner in his native country prior to shipping to the U.S. for owners Castleton Lyons and La Biznaga this fall, is an intriguing upset possibility. Following a narrow defeat in his North American debut at Santa Anita in the War Chant Stakes Oct. 13, the 5-year-old Bernstein horse returned with a two-length win over allowance rivals at the nine-furlong distance Nov. 17 at Hollywood.
New York invader Sensational Humor, an allowance winner via disqualification on the Aqueduct turf in his most recent start Oct. 31 for trainer Thomas Bush, completes the field.
$150,000 San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 4:07 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Daytona (IRE), 117, Mike E. Smith
2. Lang Field (KY), 119, Jon K. Court
3. Proudinsky (GER), 115, Rafael Bejarano
4. Sensational Humor (KY), 113, Victor Espinoza
5. Medici Code (GB), 116, Martin A. Pedroza
6. Storm Military (ARG), 117, Garrett K. Gomez