Trainer Ron Ellis has Treasury Bill in the San Vicente Stakes.

Trainer Ron Ellis has Treasury Bill in the San Vicente Stakes.

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Will Treasury Bill Pay Dividends in 'Vicente?

Ron Ellis charge among six inexperienced sophomores in seven-furlong test Feb. 17.

Treasury Bill is among six 3-year-olds entered in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 17 at Santa Anita Park, but trainer  Ron Ellis says the seven-furlong event is only a starting point for the son of Lemon Drop Kid .

"He's doing well, but (going) seven-eighths of a mile against talented maiden winners, it's just not his ball game," Ellis said of Treasury Bill, who broke his maiden on Santa Anita's wet/fast track at 6 1/2 furlongs Jan. 27.

Treasury Bill will face three up-and-coming colts from the Bob Baffert barn in the San Vicente: Belvin, Shakin It Up , and War Academy. Also in the small field is Mudflats, making his Southern California debut for trainer Doug O'Neill, and the recently graduated Steve Asmussen trainee Caballo Del Cielo.

The San Vicente is race 7 on the Sunday card at Santa Anita with a scheduled post time of 3:36 p.m. PST. The race is not part of the points system that will determine the starting field for this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

A $230,000 yearling owned by Gary and Mary West, Treasury Bill's only other race came in a third-place effort behind the Baffert-trained War Academy in a 6 1/2-furlong tilt on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 9.

"We're just trying to get untracked for some of the bigger Derby preps," Ellis noted. "This will get another race under his belt, give him a little more experience, and we'll move on to two turns."

Where that might come depends on where other West sophomores run, most notably Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) winner Flashback , perhaps Baffert's leading Triple Crown prospect.

"We could wind up in Arkansas down the road," Ellis said. "It'll be a chess game for a while."

Treasury Bill was bred in Kentucky by Edward A. Seltzer and Beverly Anderson out of the graded stakes-winning mare Wow Me Free, by Menifee.

Ellis says Treasury Bill, who drew the far outside post and will be ridden once again by Joe Talamo, is sharp for his upcoming start off a pair of half-mile drills following his maiden victory.

"We're on an upward trajectory," Ellis said. "We just want to keep him doing that. We've still got a few months to go before the big ones. This won't be a big test for him because it's only around one turn, but his next race, when he runs in March, will be."

Baffert, too, is using the San Vicente as a jumping off point for his three inexperienced charges.

"Belvin and Shakin It Up broke their maidens here," the Hall of Fame trainer said. "The horses haven't run in a while but they're all doing well and they've worked well. There weren't any allowance races, so I went here."

Shakin It Up is the most experienced of the trio. He'll be making his first appearance since a good closing third to stablemates Really Mr Greely and Super Ninety Nine  in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) at the San Vicente distance Nov. 22. He earned a 96 Beyer speed figure for the effort, easily the best in the San Vicente field.

Bred and owned by Mike Pegram and Dennis Cardoza, Shakin It Up has one win from three starts, graduating by 4 1/2 lengths Oct. 27 at Santa Anita after finishing second to Super Ninety Nine in his debut three weeks earlier. The dark bay is a son of Pegram's champion sprinter Midnight Lute  and the Vindication mare Silver Bullet Moon. David Flores, who was aboard Shakin It Up for the maiden win, regains the mount.

Belvin, who drew the rail, scored a one-length maiden win as a solid favorite Dec. 26 in his second start for Florida owner/breeder Donald Dizney. Rafael Bejarano retains the mount on the son of Empire Maker .

War Academy, a colt by Giant's Causeway  owned by Coolmore connections Michael Tabor, John Magnier, and Derrick Smith, has not raced since his powerful 1 3/4-length maiden win at first asking at Hollywood Nov. 9. He was a $450,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase.

Mudflats, a recently acquired son of Tapit , made his debut for O'Neill in a well-beaten seventh in the Jerome Stakes (gr. II) on the inner dirt track at Aqueduct Racetrack Jan. 5. Given three weeks off following that race, Mudflats has returned to work three times since over the Santa Anita main track, most recently posting a half-mile move in :48 3/5 Feb. 11.

Now owned by Little Red Feather Racing and partners, the roan/gray gelding broke his maiden by 3 1/4 lengths in December for trainer Eddie Kenneally at Aqueduct, running seven furlongs in 1:24.22 over a sloppy, sealed main track. He was third behind Delhomme in a one-mile maiden heat at Belmont Park before that.

Completing the field is Caballo Del Cieloo, who is coming off a 4 1/4-length maiden tally going 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Jan. 5 for Asmussen. Jerry Durant's Songandaprayer colt, a $250,000 Barretts 2-year-old-in-training buy last March, figures to set a lively pace under Corey Nakatani.

$150,000 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II, Race 7, 3:36 p.m.), 3YOs, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Belvin (FL), R Bejarano, B Baffert
2. Shakin It Up (KY), D R Flores, B Baffert
3. War Academy (KY), M Garcia, B Baffert
4. Caballo Del Cielo (KY), C S Nakatani, S M Asmussen
5. Mudflats (KY), E A Maldonado, D F O'Neill
6. Treasury Bill (KY), J Talamo, R W Ellis
All carry 118 pounds.