Proudinsky, second to Daytona in last year’s San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) on Santa Anita's turf course, has an outstanding opportunity to do that effort one better in the $150,000 event Dec. 28.
There's no clear standout among the nine entrants -- who were bred in seven different countries -- for the 1 1/8-mile test for older horses. Only Proudinsky, who is trained by Bobby Frankel for owner Gary Tanaka, has a graded stakes win to his credit in 2008. That came on March 8 in the Mervyn Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds, and the German-bred 5-year-old has lost six in a row since then.
In his most recent try, Proudinsky finished fourth (1 3/4 lengths behind Hyperbaric) in Hollywood Park's Citation Handicap (gr. IT), missing out on show money by a head to San Gabriel foe Becrux when jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. dropped his whip in the stretch. Garrett Gomez, who last rode Proudinsky in the Muniz, reclaims the mount. They will break from post 2.
Proudinsky, who carries a feathery 116 pounds, comes into the San Gabriel with a lifetime mark of 4-4-1 in 16 starts and earnings of $700,377.
Italian-bred Becrux, a 23-1 shot in the Citation, shares the top weight assignment of 117 with Obrigado. Becrux rallied between rivals late to get third in the Citation but was not a threat to the winner.
A winner of 10 of 32 starts for earnings of $1,106,447, Becrux is the most accomplished of the San Gabriel starters, having won the 2006 Woodbine Mile (Can-IT). Mike Smith will be back aboard for trainer John Sadler. Becrux's only win in five starts at Santa Anita came in a seven-furlong conditioned allowance during the Oak Tree meet Oct. 24.
French-bred Obrigado, riding a 10-race losing streak, is coming off the strongest last-out effort among the top contenders. That was a closing one-half length loss to Champs Elysees in the 12-furlong Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) Dec. 6. Joel Rosario, who rode Obrigado for the first time that day, retains the mount for trainer Neil Drysdale.
The 5-year-old, a grade II winner, has posted earnings of $577,504 with a record of 5-5-6 in 25 races.
Chilean-bred Porfido, also trained by Frankel, has been knocking on the door in recent starts, but he hasn’t raced since finishing third in the Sunset Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park July 13. His only win of the year came in an allowance race at the San Gabriel distance in January. David Flores rides the 6-year-old bay who has finished third in stakes company in each of his last three starts.
British-bred Medici Code, third in last year's San Gabriel in his first try against older horses, won a pair of grade II stakes for 3-year-olds at Del Mar in the summer of 2007 after being imported by trainer Darrell Vienna. The 4-year-old gelding has been winless in his last six races since taking the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT), however. Medici Code, who missed eight months this year, most recently finished fifth in the Citation, his second start on the comeback trail.
Irish-bred Ferneley, seventh in the Citation, has won once in four U.S. tries for trainer Ben Cecil since transferring from his native country last spring.
“My horse is coming around," Cecil said after the 4-year-old colt worked five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride main track Dec. 23. "He’ll win a race like this. I don’t know if it will be this one, but we want to try him on the Pro-Ride track at some point. He’s worked very well on it.”
Swift Winds, on a three-race win streak for trainer Victor Garcia, steps up after a victory over state-breds in the California Cup Mile Handicap on the Santa Anita turf Oct. 5.
$150,000 San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 MIles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Medici Code (GB), 114, Martin A. Pedroza
2. Proudinsky (GER), 116, Garrett K. Gomez
3. Sartorial (KY), 112, Corey S. Nakatani
4. Silent Soul (KY), 112, Ignacio Puglisi
5. Ferneley (IRE), 114, Victor Espinoza
6. Porfido (CHI), 116, David R. Flores
7. Swift Winds (CA), 113, Alonso Quinonez
8. Obrigado (FR), 117, Joel Rosario
9. Becrux (ITY), 117, Mike E. Smith