Bourbon Bay makes his 7-year-old debut March 16 in a race he has won twice before, the San Luis Rey Stakes (gr. IIT) on the grass at Santa Anita Park.
A fixture in the Southern California turf division at longer distances since 2010, Bourbon Bay won the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey with a big stretch run last year by a head over Slim Shadey. Those two will go at it again Saturday, each carrying the top weight assignment of 120 pounds. They will book-end the nine horse field, with last month's San Marco Stakes (gr. II) winner Slim Shadey breaking from the rail and Bourbon Bay positioned in the far outside post.
The San Luis Rey, which immediately follows the Santa Margarita Invitational (gr. I) for older fillies and mares, is race 8 on the card with a 4:07 p.m. PDT scheduled post.
Bourbon Bay, from the Hall of Fame stable of Neil Drysdale, has been freshened since a dull sixth in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IIT) across town Dec. 15. David Heerensperger's Sligo Bay gelding has never been as effective at Betfair Hollywood Park as he is at Santa Anita, where he has won seven of 11 starts, six of them in grade II turf events.
Last year, he won both the San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano (gr. IIT), a doubleplay he also turned in 2010 while also capturing the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT). In 2011, Bourbon Bay went to Dubai to finish 11th in the Sheema Classic (UAE-I) instead of staying around for the Santa Anita spring turf heats.
With a lifetime mark of 9-5-4 in 28 starts and earnings of $968,536, Bourbon Bay will be looking to eclipse $1 million in career earnings. Drysdale vanned Bourbon Bay from his Hollywood Park base to drill six furlongs on the Santa Anita lawn March 11 in 1:14 2/5. He'll have a new rider in David Flores for this year's San Luis Rey renewal.
The Great Britain-bred Slim Shadey is winless in three tries at 12 furlongs for trainer Simon Callaghan and owner Phil Cunningham after being edged at the wire in last year's San Luis Rey.
The 5-year-old Val Royal gelding comes into the race in sharp form, having won the 10-furlong San Marcos Feb. 9 in gate-to-wire fashion from the far outside post for Gary Stevens. The Hall of Fame rider, who earned his first added-money victory aboard Slim Shadey since launching his comeback, has the return call.
Interaction (ARG) (second), All Squared Away (third), Fire With Fire (fourth), and Huntsville (fifth) all ran in the San Marcos as well.
Pozo de Luna's Argentina-bred 7-year-old Interaction was the slight 7-2 favorite in the San Marcos. The Ron McAnally trainee came from far back with a strong bid in the stretch to come up a length short, and would seem well-suited for the extra distance he'll get Saturday. In his only prior try at 1 1/2 miles in the Hollywood Turf Cup, he also closed willingly to finish three-quarters of a length behind Grandeur. Brice Blanc takes over for Joe Talamo, who will be riding at Oaklawn Park.
All Squared Away will be trying the longer distance for the first time for trainer Peter Miller. Fire With Fire, also trained by Drysdale for Heerensperger, returned from the San Marcos to run a tough second as the favorite in an allowance/optional claiming heat at 1 1/8 miles. Huntsville ran in the same March 3 allowance test for trainer Barry Abrams, finishing sixth.
Harris Farms' John Scott won his only turf start in his most recent outing Jan. 26 for trainer Carla Gaines, taking the nine-furlong Crystal Water Stakes by a nose over Huntsville. The 6-year-old Bertrando gelding was ticketed for the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 2 but was scratched to remain on the grass. He'll likely contest the pace with Slim Shadey.
Tiz Gianni, a close second last time in the Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap at Turf Paradise Jan. 12, has the services of jockey Rosie Napravnik.
$150,000 San Luis Rey Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Slim Shadey (GB), G L Stevens, 120, S Callaghan
2. Interaction (ARG), B Blanc, 118, R L McAnally
3. Tiz Gianni (FL), R Napravnik, 118, J A Shirreffs
4. John Scott (CA), M Garcia, 118, C Gaines
5. Fire With Fire (KY), T Baze, 118, N D Drysdale
6. Huntsville (CA), A Quinonez, 118, B Abrams
7. Bright Thought (KY), V Espinoza, 118, J Gutierrez
8. All Squared Away (KY), E A Maldonado, 118, P Miller
9. Bourbon Bay (KY), D R Flores, 120, N D Drysdale