Collected and Cupid, a pair of Bob Baffert-trained runners who did their fair share of damage during their 3-year-old campaigns, will face each other and a unique field in the $200,000 Californian Stakes (G2) April 22 at Santa Anita Park.
Speedway Stable's Collected started his 4-year-old season in style April 1, when he bested former stablemate Dortmund to win the Santana Mile by 3 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita. In 2016, the son of City Zip won the Sham Stakes (G3), Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes, and Lexington Stakes (G3) before he ran 10th in the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith's Cupid will make his first start of the season in the 1 1/8-mile Californian. The Tapit colt made his impact on 2016 with wins in the Rebel Stakes (G2), Indiana Derby (G2), and West Virginia Derby (G2), which were sprinkled between off-the-board finishes in the Arkansas Derby (G1), Easy Goer Stakes, and Pennsylvania Derby (G2).
Baffert was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
The main challenger to the Baffert pair appears to be proven allowance winner Follow Me Crev, who finished third last time out in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1). It was the first graded stakes placing for the 5-year-old Quality Road gelding, who finished fourth or fifth in his three previous graded tries.
The other three entrants, however, found their footing on a different surface recently. Although they have ample dirt experience, Prime Attraction and Prospect Park are coming off optional-claiming allowance wins on the Santa Anita grass, while Warren Williamson's Texas Ryano is scheduled to make his dirt debut in the Californian.
A 6-year-old son of Curlin , Texas Ryano is trained by Carla Gaines and has made all 20 starts of his career on turf, including his lone graded score in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2T) at Del Mar Nov. 25.
Gaines said the switch in surfaces came for a variety of reasons, including the potential breeding aspects of winning a graded dirt race to add to his grass accomplishments. Another aspect is that Texas Ryano's come-from-behind running style is often hampered by slow paces he's encountered in longer turf races, so his connections feel a faster pace to run at, even on a different surface, could aid him.
Pam and Martin Wygod's Prospect Park last won on dirt early during his 3-year-old season in 2015, but the son of Tapit has won or placed in nine of his 11 starts on the main track. In his three starts this year, Prospect Park ran a far-back fourth in a sloppy San Pasqual (G2), finished a head behind stakes winner Papacoolpapacool in a grass allowance Feb. 5, then won another turf allowance by 3 1/4 lengths last time out March 9.
"It's hard to say which he likes the best. When he runs his race, he runs his race," trainer Cliff Sise said of the 2015 La Jolla Handicap (G3T) winner. "The strength of this race—it's not the toughest—and his breeding (went into the decision to run on dirt again). You can put a line through (the San Pasqual). I thought he was bred great for the mud, but he hated it."
D P Racing's Prime Attraction showed versatility in his last two starts for trainer Jim Cassidy. The 4-year-old Unbridled's Song colt came from off the pace to take a 1 1/16-mile allowance on the main track Feb. 25, then dueled on the lead and prevailed to win in another allowance on the grass by 1 1/4 lengths last time out.
Santa Anita Park, Saturday, April 22, 2017, Race 8
- 1 1/8m
- 3 yo's & up
- 4:38 PM (local)
|1||1Collected (KY)||Martin Garcia||122||Bob Baffert||8/5|
|2||2Cupid (KY)||Rafael Bejarano||124||Bob Baffert||3/1|
|3||3Prospect Park (KY)||Flavien Prat||122||Clifford W. Sise, Jr.||7/2|
|4||4Prime Attraction (KY)||Santiago Gonzalez||122||James M. Cassidy||10/1|
|5||5Texas Ryano (KY)||Mike E. Smith||126||Carla Gaines||15/1|
|6||6Follow Me Crev (KY)||Kent J. Desormeaux||122||Vladimir Cerin||5/2|