The eight horses entered in the Jan. 19 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Jan. are not lacking talent, but which runner will show the best turn of foot in the 1 ¼-mile turf event remains to be seen.
Loaded down with a 122-pound high-weight, Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) winner Medici Code looks for his first win since that Sept. 2 victory. Since winning the 1 1/8-mile turf event, the 4-year-old Medicean gelding was fifth in the Indiana Derby (gr. II), then came back to the turf for a ½-length loss to Daytona in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IIT) and a third-place finish behind that one in the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Dec. 30.
Of the seven remaining runners, only the Todd-Pletcher trained Rocket Legs has been assigned a higher weight than 115. Starting at 117 with Mike Smith in the saddle, the 4-year-old Dynaformercolt makes his first start in graded company for owner Alex Campbell Jr. Somewhat of a late bloomer, the Kentucky homebred took five attempts before breaking his maiden on the sixth try at in a 1 ½-mile turf route at Kentucky Downs last September. Since then, however, he has won two other races and finished second in a 1 1/8-mile allowance – with all three starts coming over synthetic surfaces.
Niagara Causeway, trained by Leonard Powell for La Bahia Stud, finished third behind Rocket Legs in their most recent start – a 1 ¼-mile allowance optional claimer over Hollywood’s polytrack. The 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway hasn’t registered a win since July, but carries much less than the 122-pound impost of his last start, getting just 115 under Jon Court.
Coming back off a layup is the Pletcher-trained Ramazutti, who has not started for Anstu Stables since an eighth-place finish in the Aug. 11 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) at Saratoga. The 6-year-old Honor Grades gelding last won the Mac Diarmida Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream in January of 2007.
Obrigado (fourth in the Hollywood Turf Cup), Masterly, Champs Elysees, and the Irish-bred Decado complete the field.
$150,000 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT, race 9, approximate post 4:07 p.m. PST), 1 1/4-miles for 4-year-olds and upward, turf
PP., Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Ramazutti, 115, David Flores
2. Niagara Causeway, 115, Jon Court
3. Rocket Legs, 117, Mike Smith
4. Masterly, 115, Joseph Talamo
5. Decado, 115, Alex Solis
6. Champs Elysees, 115, Garrett Gomez
7. Medici Code, 122, Martin Pedroza
8. Obrigado, 115, Rafael Bejarano