Trainer David Hofmans put Amerman Racing Stable's Triple Crown hopeful Siphonic through his final preparations for Sunday's San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) with a half-mile work in :47 from the gate shortly after Santa Anita's renovation break on Wednesday. With assistant trainer Michelle Jensen back aboard, the grade I winner was timed in :59 3/5 galloping out the five furlongs.
"He looked really, really good," Santa Anita clocker Emilio "Poppo" Iglesias said. "From the three-eighths (pole) to the quarter (pole), I had him in :11 3/5, which is excellent considering how easy it was for him. He also galloped out very strongly. He was impressive."
Hofmans decided a gate work was best for Siphonic after the colt's bad break in his last start, a runner-up finish in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II).
"I wanted him to break strong and come from the gate running," Hofmans explained. "I just wanted him to come out of there without the ground breaking from underneath him. He's so powerful from behind so I wanted him to get some confidence from pushing off and getting hold of the ground again. I think we were successful in accomplishing that."
All systems are go with Siphonic and any remnants of a sore neck and slight fever he developed after the Santa Catalina have vanished.
"He looks good, he's really handling this track well and has adapted well to his surroundings up here," Hofmans said. "He's sound, he's happy and so are we."
Owner John Amerman, former chairman and CEO of Mattel Toys in the U.S., was also on hand for Wednesday's work and couldn't be more pleased with his horse. Though he considers himself a "hands on" owner, he leaves the worrying and conditioning to his horse's trainer.
"I am really enjoying this experience," Amerman said. "David is really doing a great job with Siphonic and now we'll just have to see what happens on Sunday. If he runs like he's been training, I think we'll be all right."
A field of five or six is expected for the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe, including recent Sham Stakes winner USS Tinosa. Hofmans considers the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt Siphonic's strongest challenger, although he holds all the runners in very high regard.
"USS Tinosa is going to be very tough," Hofmans said. "He's a very nice horse with a top-notch trainer and, I've been told, is training very well. Baffert's also got one (Puerto Banus) and he's always got them ready to run. I expect all of them to be tough. We're all trying to get on that Derby trail and there's no such thing as an easy prep race when it comes to the Derby."
Also on Wednesday, fellow grade I winner Came Home missed a scheduled work after briefly becoming cast in his stall the night before. According to trainer Paco Gonzalez, the colt is no worse for wear and will work for the first time since winning the March 2 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) in a couple days.
"He's fine. He didn't injure himself at all and galloped fine today," Gonzalez said. "I just decided a day or two more would be best for him anyway, so he'll work then."