Bourbon Bay, who shot to the top of the Southern California turf marathon division with his sharp 4 1/4-length win in the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) one month ago, figures to be a strong choice in the $150,000 San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita grass March 20.
David and Jill Heerensperger's Bourbon Bay brings a two-race win streak at the meet into the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey. Both of those wins came at the 12-furlong distance for trainer Neil Drysdale and snapped a seven-race losing drought for the 4-year-old Sligo Bay gelding.
Ten horses are entered in the San Luis Rey, which is the eighth race on the program with a probable post of 4:07 p.m PST. The field includes Unusual Suspect and Sudden War, who ran second and third, respectively, in the San Luis Obispo Feb. 21.
Rafael Bejarano enjoyed a dream trip aboard Bourbon Bay in the San Luis Obispo, rating just off the pacesetter Sudden War in second before kicking past in upper stretch and cruising to his first stakes triumph. Bejarano rides again.
Bourbon Bay, who drew post 3 for the San Luis Rey, owns a 3-2-2 lifetime record in 11 starts with earnings of $209,424. Bourbon Bay is the 120-pound high weight and adds six pounds following his San Luis Obispo effort.
Drysdale bids for his fourth win in the San Luis Rey and his first since 2007 with Fourty Niners Son.
Jockey Alex Solis expects improvement from the 5-year-old Argentina-bred Sudden War, who finished 5 1/2 lengths behind the top choice in his first start in two months for trainer Ken McPeek.
“He ran good last out,” Solis said. “He just got tired. He hadn’t gone that far in a while, but he’s going to run much better (in the San Luis Rey). He’s training much better than he did last time.”
The Sunray Spirit gelding, owned by McPeek's Magdalena Racing and partners, has won three of six starts in his career, all on turf.
The 6-year-old Unusual Suspect, a veteran of 43 races with eight wins and earnings of $769,850, came with his usual late run for trainer Barry Abrams in the San Luis Obispo. Alonso Quinonez retains the mount on the son of Unusual Heat who is on a five-race losing streak since taking the Cougar II Handicap Aug. 5 at Del Mar.
Also coming out of the San Luis Obispo is the Argentina-bred Romp (fourth), Obrigado (fifth) and Dynamic Range(seventh).
Christopher McHale's High Court Drama returns to action after nearly two months away. The 5-year-old Irish-bred was last seen finishing second to Loup Breton by a half-length in the 10-furlong San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) for trainer Doug O'Neill. It was High Court Drama's third start in the United States since transferring from his native country.
High Court Drama won an optional claiming allowance on the turf at Hollywood Park and also finished second in the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) on Hollywood's Cushion Track.
Lease of Life and Unusual Smoke, who finished in a dead-heat for the win in a one-mile optional claimer Feb. 21, and Quasicobra complete the field.
$150,000 San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Dynamic Range (KY), D R Flores, 119, J C Canani
2. High Court Drama (IRE), M C Baze, 118, D F O'Neill
3. Bourbon Bay (KY), R Bejarano, 120, N D Drysdale
4. Obrigado (FR), G K Gomez, 117, N D Drysdale
5. Sudden War (ARG), A O Solis, 118, K G McPeek
6. Lease of Life (KY), J Rosario, 116, M R Mitchell
7. Unusual Suspect (CA), A Quinonez, 117, B Abrams
8. Romp (ARG), C Sutherland, 115, K Mulhall
9. Quasicobra (KY), J Talamo, 116, P L Biancone
10. Unusual Smoke (CA), M Garcia, 117, A C Avila