Even though Rafael Becerra feels St Averil could be the best 3-year-old he's ever trained, the 49-year-old native of Mexico prefers not to look past Sunday's $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles.
"We gave him a little time," Becerra said of the son of Saint Ballado, who hasn't raced since winning the Santa Catalina Stakes(gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 17. "I didn't want to run him back at a mile (in the San Rafael Stakes last Saturday). I think he's better at a mile and a sixteenth or longer. I think St Averil is better than any of the 3-year-olds I've had.
"But the San Felipe will be a test for him. If he runs well Sunday, we could look at the Santa Anita Derby, but we'll go one step at a time."
Probable for the San Felipe: Action This Day, David Flores; Cheiron, Victor Espinoza; Harvard Avenue, no rider; Odds On, Alex Solis; Preachinatthebar, Javier Santiago; Rushin' to Heaven, no rider; St Averil, Tyler Baze; and Toasted, Gary Stevens. Trainer Dan Hendricks said he "may enter and look at" the San Felipe but California Breeders' Champion Stakes winner Don'tsellmeshort probably will run in the $70,000 Pasadena Stakes at one mile on turf next Wednesday. "He seemed to like the turf (despite drifting wide in the Baldwin Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf)," Hendricks said. "He just didn't like crossing the dirt."