Rousing Sermon is coming up to his next scheduled start in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) sharply after a bullet half-mile work in :46 3/5 over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track March 4.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams' stakes-winning California homebred son of Lucky Pulpit is among the contenders for Santa Anita's March 10 San Felipe, a $300,000 event for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
The chestnut colt's work at Hollywood was the quickest of 22 at the distance. It was part of a busy morning of preparation for the San Felipe, which is shaping up as an extremely contentious prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) at 1 1/8 miles April 7.
Rousing Sermon is coming off a third-place finish in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 4 in his first start of the year. He ran second in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) last December. Never worse than third in seven lifetime races, he has a pair of victories, including the Bob Benoit California Cup Juvenile last October. He has earned $298,000.
Meanwhile, trainer Eoin Harty reported that Sham Stakes (gr. III) victor Out of Bounds will work March 5 at Hollywood in his final drill for the San Felipe.
“The horse is doing well,” Harty said. “I’ve got to put one more work into him on Monday morning and if everything goes well, we should be over at Santa Anita at the end of the week.”
Garrett Gomez is expected to be back aboard Darley's strapping son of Discreet Cat after breaking his heel in a fall at Santa Anita Jan. 8, a day after Out of Bounds won the Sham.
Among the other probable entrants for the San Felipe are Robert Lewis runner-up Empire Way, CashCall Futurity winner Liaison , stakes winner Midnight Transfer, stakes-placed American Act, and highly-regarded Fed Biz in his stakes debut. Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) winner Creative Cause is also a possibility.
Trainer Mike Harrington said March 4 that Empire Way is definite for the San Felipe while San Vicente third-place finisher Creative Cause is “50-50.” He said Joel Rosario will ride one of them.
Empire Way worked five furlongs on Hollywood’s Cushion Track March 3 in 1:01. Creative Cause is scheduled to have “a short work” March 6.
At Santa Anita, Southwestern Stakes (gr. III) division winner Secret Circle drilled five furlongs handily in 1:00 2/5 for trainer Bob Baffert in company with fast-developing Bodemeister , who was credited with the same time. Baffert, who trains Secret Circle for Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, has not announced the Eddington colt's next start.
Bodemeister, an impressive maiden winner Feb. 11, is a possibility for the San Felipe. Baffert was non-committal on whether he would run Fed Biz, Liaison, and/or Bodemeister, saying only he would “run two in the San Felipe.”
San Pedro winner Midnight Transfer worked four furlongs in :49 flat at Santa Anita for Carla Gaines.
Also of note, Lewis winner I'll Have Another , expected to wait for the Santa Anita Derby, worked six furlongs after the seventh race March 3 in an eye-catching 1:10.16 under jockey Mario Gutierrez.
Fractional times for J. Paul Reddam's easy-moving 3-year-old son of Flower Alley, who is trained by Doug O’Neill, were :24.12, :47.23, and :58.21. I'll Have Another was escorted to the work by two-time Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Lava Man, now 11 and retired as a stable pony.