Tadahiro Hotehama's homebred T.H. Approval, looking for his first victory since last year's San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) for trainer Eduardo Inda, is the 117-pound high weight in a field of 13 entered for Sunday's closing day marathon fixture at Santa Anita Park.
The 5-year-old gray/roan T.H. Approval, a son of With Approval
, has raced just four times since winning last year's edition of the $250,000 race at about 1 3/4 miles on the turf course, and has finished second in three consecutive grade II events. In two starts this year – both on the Santa Anita lawn at 12 furlongs – he has closed well to finish as runner-up to Atlando in the San Luis Obispo Handicap Feb. 26 and to King's Drama in the San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. II).
Neither of those rivals shows up in the 'Capistrano to oppose T.H. Approval, who won last year's race by 1 1/2 lengths at odds of 6-1. Regular rider Alex Solis returns for the mount on the likely favorite.
The 63-year-old Inda conditioned Riboletta to an Eclipse Award as champion older female in 2000. But his barn has dwindled to three horses.
"The horse is doing well, but for myself, let's say it's possible that business goes in cycles," Inda said. "It's been disappointing but, hopefully, things will improve, starting Sunday."
T.H. Approval has only last year's win to show for 12 starts on the Santa Anita grass, although he also has three seconds and three thirds. Overall, his record is 4-5-4 in 21 lifetime starts with earnings of $414,288.
Steve Knapp, fifth in the trainers' standings, says outsider Wild Buddy will be on the lead in the marathon San Juan.
"He's coming up to the race real well," Knapp said. "We were going to work him on the grass Sunday, but we had to work him on the dirt instead (five furlongs in 1:01.20). He went very nicely and came out of it very nicely. I think he can run all day. We're going to find out."
Wild Buddy is coming off a third-place finish in the San Luis Rey.
Bob Baffert saddles his first starters in the race in Sort It Out and Totally Platinum.
"I've only won one mile and a half race in my life, and that was the Belmont (gr. I, with Point Given in 2001)," Baffert said. "I've never won one past that, and this is my first at a mile and three quarters."
Totally Platinum, making his stakes debut, is coming off a fourth-place finish in an allowance/claiming event at 1 1/4 miles on the grass. The New York bred Sort It Out, 17th in the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), has not hit the board in his last six starts. He has raced on turf only once in a 20-race career.$250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 4:30 p.m.), 4 & Up, About 1 3/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Misto Quente (BRZ), 113, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
2. Quinquin the King (FR), 114, Corey Nakatani
3. Golden Rahy (KY), 114, Patrick Valenzuela
4. Balustrade (KY), 110, Julio Garcia
5. Totally Platinum (KY), 112, David Flores
6. Mino Ona (ARG), 107, Denis Cayo
7. Sort It Out (NY), 112, Victor Espinoza
8. One Off (GB), 114, Garrett Gomez
9. Wild Buddy (FL), 113, Michael Baze
10. Capitano (PA), 113, Jon Court
11. T. H. Approval (KY), 117, Alex Solis
12. Bullistic (KY), 112, Martin Pedroza
13. Modern Era (AUS), 109, Matt Garcia