Millennium Farms' Student Council, back-to-back winner of the Pacific Classic (gr. I) and the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) in 2007, looks to rebound from an eighth-place finish in the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) when he heads a field of nine in the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 9.
Unraced since Nov. 24 of last year, the 6-year-old son of Kingmambocarries a high weight of 119 in the 1 1/8-mile event, which was to be run Feb. 3 but was postponed due to difficulties with the track surface.
Nine older horses are set to run, including 2006 Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner Sweetnorthernsaint and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Awesome Gem, third-place finisher behind Curlin and Hard Spun in the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27. The race also features four of the top five finishers in the recent San Pasqual Handicap (gr. III).
Student Council, who defeated Awesome Gem by a half-length in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, won four of nine starts for trainer Vladimir Cerin in 2007 and collected more than $1 million in purses. Bred in Kentucky by Will Farish, he owns seven victories from 23 lifetime starts and has shown his best form on the California synthetic surfaces.
Awesome Gem won just two of nine starts last year for trainer Craig Dollase but earned more than $1 million thanks to his Breeders' Cup effort and runner-up finishes in the Goodwood (gr. I), Pacific Classic, and San Diego Handicap (gr. II), all on synthetic surfaces. The 5-year-old Awesome Again gelding, bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm, Catesby Clay, and Peter Callahan, won the San Fernando Breeders' Cup (gr. II) in 2007 and owns a 4-7-1 record from 15 lifetime starts.
Sweetnorthernsaint, runner-up in the 2006 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), will make his first start in Southern California for trainer Michael Trombetta. Bred in Florida by Eduardo Azpurua, the 5-year-old Sweetsouthernsaint gelding returned from a seven-month layoff to run sixth as the 6-5 favorite in Turfway Park's Holiday Cheer Stakes on Polytrack Dec. 29. He has six wins from 16 starts to his credit, with earnings of $860,675 for owners Josepph Balsamo and Ted Theos.
Trainer John Sadler will bump Zappa up in company and stretch the 6-year-old Afternoon Deelitesgelding out after his game one-length victory at 13-1 in the 1 1/16-mile San Pasqual. Owners Gary and Cecil Barber claimed the winner of 11 from 27 starts for $32,000 at Bay Meadows last April.
$250,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II, race 8, approximate post 4 p .m. PST), 1 1/8 miles for 4-year-olds and upward, Cushion Track
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Big Booster, 117, Martin Garcia
2. Racketeer, 113, Victor Espinoza
3. Zappa, 115, Joel Rosario
4. Awesome Gem, 118, David Flores
5. Heatseeker, 116, Rafael Bejarano
6. Sweetnorthernsaint, 118, Tyler Baze
7. Rathor, 114, Alex Solis
8. Student Council, 119, Richard Migliore
9. Well Armed, 114, Aaron Gryder