Although stamina and turf horses have been in short supply in U.S. racing recently, a field of nine older horses is signed up to contest the $200,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes (gr. IIT) at about 1 3/4 miles over Santa Anita's turf June 29. None of the entrants have previously raced at this distance. The San Juan Capistrano has for years served as Santa Anita's final stakes race of its spring/summer stand.
Quick Casablanca, who raced in his native Chile as well as Argentina before obtaining a letter of transit and coming north, is the most accomplished runner in the group. The 6-year-old scored group I victories in 2012 in both Argentina and Chile going 1 1/2 miles and 1 5/16 miles. He was competitive in New York last year, finishing third in the Good Reward Stakes and in the John's Call, but failed to break through to the win column until he was sent to trainer Ron McAnally in California, after which he won the Last Tycoon Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita this April before running third in the Charlie Whittingham Stakes (gr. IIT) a month ago.
Irish Surf finished fourth in the Whittingham and has contested five graded stakes on the turf in California over the last nine months without a top-three placing. He last won at Del Mar last summer in allowance/optional claiming company and could benefit from the extra real estate.
Lideris represents a wild card, as the 4-year-old will be making his first start outside Peru in the San Juan Capistrano. He is coming off a group I victory going a 1 1/4 miles in March, and late last year won a group II heat in Peru going 1 1/2 miles.
Black Spirit hopes to transfer his Northern California form down south. He has won three turf tilts in a row at Golden Gate Fields in claiming and allowance fields this spring. He failed to make an impact last year when racing in stakes company in England and also must prove he wants the extra distance, as most of his success has come at one mile.
Starspangled Heat won at 1 3/8 miles last summer at Del Mar in allowance/optional claiming company but his last four starts have come while sprinting, most recently going five furlongs in the Albany Stakes at Golden Gate, so this is a radical stretch-out for the 6-year-old.
American Act finished third two races back going 1 1/4 miles but has been racing at a mile most frequently. Although competitive at the $75,000 claiming level, the San Juan represents challenges of class and distance.
Dr Action is another South American who won a pair of group II events in Peru last year. He has not made an impression in two stakes tries at Santa Anita this season and needs a reversal of form. Big Kick won an allowance/optional claimer going 1 1/4 miles last out at Santa Anita but will also be tested for class here. Bailoutbobby is another stepping way up in company, but did win a starter allowance race at Churchill Downs on the turf in May.
$200,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes (gr. IIT, race 8, approximate post time 4:30 PDT), about 1 3/4 miles, turf
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Bailoutbobby, Mike Smith, 119, Doug O'Neill
2. Lideris, Juan Enriquez, 124, Peter Miller.
3. Irish Surf, Elvis Trujillo, 119, Dan Hendricks
4. Dr Action, Martin Pedroza, 121, Peter Miller
5. Big Kick, Victor Espinoza, 119, Mike Machowsky
6. American Act, Martin Garcia, 119, Jack Carava
7. Black Spirit, Kent Desormeaux, 119, Dean Greenman
8. Quick Casablanca, Joe Talamo, 119, Ron McAnally
9. Starspangled Heat,Corey Nakatani, 119, Barry Abrams