Nine 3-year-olds are entered in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe. They include the grade I winner Georgie Boy and Sunshine Millions Dash victor Bob Black Jack, who set a world record for six furlongs of 1:06.53 on a Santa Anita Cushion Track that was blazing fast Jan. 26.
Trainer Kathy Walsh says she expects Georgie Boy to successfully negotiate two turns in his first try at the San Felipe distance but admits she doesn't know for sure. He ran seven furlongs in each of his last two starts, winning both the San Vicente (gr. II) and Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) with a relaxed style and kicking home impressively.
“You never know until you run a horse two turns, there’s no doubt about it,” Walsh said. “You certainly know (with) one that’s rank to train, and kind of a head case, and this horse is anything but that. He relaxes and does everything right.”
Georgie Boy won the San Vicente with Rafael Bejarano by 3 1/4 lengths in his 3-year-old debut Feb. 10. In his final race as a 2-year-old, he rallied from 12th to win the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) by a half-length. Georgie Boy worked five furlongs at Hollywood Park March 8 in 1:00 2/5 under Bejarano, who has the mount in the San Felipe.
“He settled really good; he wasn’t rank at all,” Walsh said about the drill. “It was a nice, steady work, and he galloped out well.”
Georgie Boy, a gelding by Tribal Rule owned and bred in California by George Schwary, has a 3-2-1 record from six starts with earnings of $376,806.
Walsh has been training for some 38 years and knows there are few certainties in racing.
“But I think he’ll settle well, and indications are he wants to go long,” she said.
California-bred Bob Black Jack turned in probably the most impressive effort of the 2008 Sunshine Millions with his record-breaking 3 1/2-length win in the Dash, where he led from start to finish for the 33-year-old trainer James Kasparoff. He ran :20 4/5 for the opening quarter and :42 2/5 for the half-mile on the hard surface.
Bob Black Jack, with just five lifetime starts, has plenty of room for further development, and there's no denying the son of Stormy Jack is one quick colt. He covered seven furlongs in 1:20.37 in his prior start, winning the Cal Breeders' Championship by 6 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita. In his only start against open company, however, Bob Black Jack finished fourth, beaten five lengths by Massive Drama, in the Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) Nov. 22.
Owned by Jeff Harmon and Tim Kasparoff, the trainer's brother, Bob Black Jack has won three of five starts and earned $268,925. David Flores has been aboard for all of the dark bay's races.
Triple B Farms' Shediak, a French bred colt, makes his first start for trainer Doug O'Neill, who took over the conditioning of the son of Selkirk in late January. Shediak, who has just three starts, won the first time out over an allowance field going 7 1/2 furlongs at Deauville Aug. 7 for trainer Andre Fabre. He was immediately jumped into top company, finishing second in a group III event and third in the group I Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, both over seven furlongs at Longchamp, before taking a break.
Julien Leparoux has the call for Shediak's first U.S. start.
Another sprinter, Cubanacan Stables' Gayego, tries two turns for the first time for trainer Paulo Lobo. Gayego upset Sea of Pleasure by 2 3/4 lengths in his last start, the Jan. 20 San Pedro at 6 1/2 furlongs, mounting a rally in the stretch to pull clear in the final sixteenth of a mile. The race, six days prior to Bob Black Jack's record-breaking effort, was clocked in a spectacular 1:13.
Gayego, to be ridden from the rail by regular pilot Mike Smith, worked six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 at Hollywood Park on March 8, the fastest of 16 works at the distance. The Gilded Time colt has raced three times, winning twice.
If the favorites aren't up to the task, the race could fall to Cecil Peacock's Indian Sun, who has been picking up minor awards for trainer Dan Hendricks before winning his last, a first-level allowance race at one mile, by a nose on the turf Feb. 23. Indian Sun, by Indian Charlie, ran fourth in the Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) and second in the San Rafael (gr. III) on the synthetic track this year.
Indian Sun had been targeted for the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) by Hendricks but will remain in California to run in the San Felipe instead.
“We couldn’t work out shipping arrangements,” Hendricks said. “It would have cost us double to ship, plus he’s training better, so we’re going to stay.”
Several others, perhaps sensing some vulnerability among the favorites, are taking their shots. Southwest, Go for Cover, Chop House George and High Stakes Silver all have maiden victories to their credit. The latter was claimed out of a maiden win Feb. 14 for $75,000 by Vladimir Cerin on behalf of Holly and David Wilson.
$200,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 4:30 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Gayego (KY), 115, Mike E. Smith
2. Southwest (VA), 115, Corey S. Nakatani
3. Bob Black Jack (CA), 117, David R. Flores
4. Georgie Boy (CA), 117, Rafael Bejarano
5. Indian Sun (KY), 115, Alex O. Solis
6. Go for Cover (KY), 115, Michael C. Baze
7. Chop House George (FL), 115, Joseph Talamo
8. Shediak (FR), 115, Julien R. Leparoux
9. High Stakes Silver (VA), 115, Martin Garcia