Trainer Bobby Frankel sends out the two highest weighted horses in Sunday's $250,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II), in which his Lido Palace likely will be sent off favored.
Amerman Racing LLC's Lido Palace won two grade I races last year at the San Antonio distance, the Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes. The Chilean-bred son of Rich Man's Gold completed his season with an eighth-place finish in the $2,034,236 Japan Cup Dirt after skipping the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). The San Antonio will be his first start since the Japanese race.
Stronach Stable's Canadian-bred Euchre won two of four races last year, with the wins both coming in grade III events in late spring and early summer. He was given some time off after winning the last of those two races and returned in December to finish second to Momentum in the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III). In his most recent start, he finished second again, this time to Wooden Phone in the San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II).
The 1 1/8-mile San Antonio also lured a pair of horses conditioned by Richard Mandella, the Brazilian-bred pair of turf runners Redattore and Straight Flush.
"They're both good horses, but we don't know if they will run well on the dirt," said Mandella. "With the Santa Anita Handicap, the Dubai World Cup, and all the big dirt races on the horizon, it's time to find out. Because if they can, there's a lot of money laying around. This is what I'm hoping. But if they don't (take to the dirt), we'll go back to turf racing."
Redattore has won a group I race in Brazil and the grade I Eddie Read Handicap in the States, both on turf. He last started in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Turf Mile Stakes (gr. IT), after which he was sidelined.
"Redattore bruised a foot in the Oak Tree Mile, so that wasn't a very good race for him," Mandella said. "He's been off all this time because of it, an abscessed foot, so I think you can excuse him for that effort."
He made one start on dirt last year, that coming in the seven-furlong Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Invitational Handicap, in which he finished fourth, behind Ceeband, Squirtle Squirt, and Elaborate. Redattore also finished third in the Grand Premio Salgado Filho (Brz-II) on a good track in Brazil.
Straight Flush will be making his second North American start in the San Antonio. Last year champion older horse in Brazil finished second to Lord Flasheart in a Santa Anita turf allowance race on Dec. 30.
"I couldn't predict which will be the one most likely to make it (on the dirt)," Mandella said. "Redattore works fast, but he's a very generous horse -- you can work him any way you want. You can't tell with Straight Flush because he's such a lazy work horse. He knows what racing is, but training in the morning is no big deal for him, he doesn't care. And we just let him work the way he wants, because he runs good (in the afternoon).
"If they run as good as they can on the turf, they'll be tough on the dirt."
Last year, a horse who had done most of his previous racing east of the Mississippi River made his seasonal debut a winning one in the San Antonio when Guided Tour won the race by 1 1/2 lengths. New York-bred Gander, a gelding like the recently deceased Guided Tour, will seek to follow in Guided Tour's footsteps on Sunday.
Seinne and California-bred Irisheyesareflying round out the field.
There are no Kentucky-bred horses in the San Antonio, a rarity for an American graded event on the main track. The field consists of four South American-breds, a Canadian-bred, with the two American-bred horses coming from New York and California. From the rail out, with jockeys and weights: Euchre, Garrett Gomez, 119; Seinne, Chris McCarron, 113; Irisheyesareflying, Kent Desormeaux, 117; Lido Palace, Jerry Bailey, 121; Straight Flush, Corey Nakatani, 115; Gander, Gary Stevens, 114, and Redattore, Alex Solis, 116.