Juvenile champion Action This Day heads a field of 11 3-year-olds in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) Sunday at Santa Anita.
The 1 1/16-mile San Felipe is a stepping stone for many on the way to the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 3, and later the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 1.
Last year, Buddy Gil used the San Felipe as a springboard to his victory in the Santa Anita Derby and Horse of the Meet honors at Santa Anita.
Action This Day rallied to finish fourth in the seven-furlong Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 8 in his 3-year-old debut. It was his first start since winning Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) for trainer Richard Mandella by more than two lengths at Santa Anita in October.
Making his fifth lifetime start Sunday, Action This Day will face colts such as St Averil, winner of the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) in January, and Odds On, a top prospect that has won twice in four lifetime starts for trainer Bob Baffert. David Flores rides the likely favorite, who breaks from post three.
In the Santa Catalina, St Averil defeated Lucky Pulpit and Master David, who won the Sham. Prior to that, St Averil was second to Lion Heart in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) in December. That was the only loss in his three-race career. St. Averil, spotting Action This Day three pounds while carrying top weight of 122, breaks from post eight with Tyler Baze.
Odds On is coming off a three-length victory in an allowance/optional claiming event at Santa Anita Feb. 21.
California-bred Cheiron, who just missed to Saint Afleet in the Sunshine Millions Sprint in January, stretched out to win an allowance at 1 1/16 mile in his last start Feb. 20 for red-hot trainer Kristin Mulhall.
Improving Preachinatthebar, third in the Sham after a fourth-place showing in the Santa Catalina for Baffert, also figures to get attention. $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II, Race 5), 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Laditude, Mike Smith, 116
2. Cheiron, Victor Espinoza, 116
3. Action This Day, David Flores, 119
4. Odds On, Alex Solis, 116
5. Last Minute Detail, Corey Nakatani, 116
6. Preachinatthebar, Javier Santiago, 116
7. Rush Into Heaven, Jose Valdivia Jr., 116
8. St. Averil, Tyler Baze, 122
9. Harvard Avenue, Jon Court, 116
10. Toasted, Gary Stevens, 116
11. Boss Nass, Paul Atkinson, 116