Sanagas, a dominating 3 1/4-length winner of the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. I) last November, returns to action for new connections in the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) Feb. 11 at Santa Anita.
The 6-year-old German-bred gelding by Lomitas out of the Marju mare Scota was purchased privately following his first grade I victory by BC 3 Thoroughbreds and David Bernsen. They reportedly would like to send him to the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) this November.
Peter Miller, who took over the training duties from Graham Motion, reports that Sanagas is progressing well.
“He’s doing super with all those black-letter works, and he’s doing it easily," said Miller, referring to three consecutive bullet moves Sanagas turned in at Hollywood Park on the Cushion Track last month. "In fact, I’m trying to slow him down, which isn’t easy with that super-duper long stride of his.”
The main question in the San Marcos is whether the 10 furlongs will be sufficient. In his only previous try at the distance, Sanagas finished seventh in his United States debut in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) last July.
Sanagas won the the 11-furlong Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland last October prior to shipping to the West Coast for the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup. Sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of seven Nov. 17, he stalked the pace in third before sweeping past the leaders heading into the final turn. He opened up an insurmountable edge in the homestretch and cruised home under a vigorous hand ride for his third win in five U.S. starts.
Joel Rosario will take over aboard Sanagas, who has won seven of 10 lifetime starts after beginning his career in Germany. The dark bay will break from post 4 with co-high weight of 123 pounds.
His rivals in the San Marcos include the defending champion Bourbon Bay, who ran on for second in the Turf Cup. Bourbon Bay returns to his home course for Neil Drysdale this time and receives a five-pound weight break from Sanagas.
David and Jill Heerensperger’s 6-year-old son of Sligo Bay has won five of six starts on the Santa Anita lawn, including four grade II events. He's winless in six tries at Hollywood.
Bourbon Bay, leaving from the far outside post, is reunited with Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard him in last year's San Marcos, which they won by 1 3/4 lengths over Champ Pegasus .
Also in the field is the Don Warren-trained Norvsky, who comes into the San Marcos off a 1 1/2-length triumph over odds-on choice Jeranimo in the 1 1/8-mile San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Jan. 16. Norvsky, who pressed the pace in the Turf Cup, was no match for Sanagas that day. But Old English Rancho's 6-year-old California homebred son of Vronsky has consecutive wins over the course, taking the California Cup Classic last October.
Norvsky, to be ridden by Joe Talamo, drew post 2 and also carries 123 pounds.
The Usual Q. T., a 6-year-old Cal-bred by Unusual Heat, finished third in the San Gabriel in his first start since last May. The grade I winner and lifetime earner of more than $1.5 million has pleased trainer James Cassidy leading up to the San Marcos.
"We’ve had more time to prepare for this race (than the San Gabriel)," he said. "Not only that, I think the mile and a quarter will be easier on him."
Regular rider Victor Espinoza will be aboard the gelding owned by Don Van Kempen, Michael Nentwig, George Saadeh, and Jeffrey Byer. The Usual Q. T. is looking for his first win since the Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) in July 2010.
Spendthrift Farm homebred Worth Repeating makes his first appearance for trainer Richard Mandella since the 6-year-old Giant's Causeway horse captured the Tokyo City Stakes (gr. III) on Santa Anita's main track March 26.
The San Marcos is the ninth of 10 races on the program with a 4:38 p.m. PST post.
$150,000 San Marcos Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 4:38 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/4 MIles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Utopian (KY), M E Smith, 118, J A Shirreffs
2. Norvsky (CA), J Talamo, 123, D Warren
3. Worth Repeating (KY), M A Pedroza, 118, R E Mandella
4. Sanagas (GER), J Rosario, 123, P Miller
5. Ashtar (CHI), K Krigger, 118, K E Nettles
6. The Usual Q. T. (CA), V Espinoza, 118, J M Cassidy
7. Slim Shadey (GB), D R Flores, 118, S Callaghan
8. Bourbon Bay (KY), R Bejarano, 118, N D Drysdale