A disappointment in last month's Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II), two-time grade I winner Smiling Tiger will get a new jockey for the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 19 when Joel Rosario takes over.
Rosario replaces Russell Baze on the Jeff Bonde-trained 4-year-old Smiling Tiger. The colt threw a bit of a fit in the starting gate prior to the Palos Verdes Jan. 22 and finished a well-beaten third at 2-5 odds.
The 121-pound high weight will face five rivals in the seven-furlong San Carlos, which is the eighth race on the program with a 4:07 p.m. PST probable post. The San Carlos follows the San Luis Obispo Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/2 miles on turf, which is race 3.
Winner of the Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar and Oak Tree's Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) at Hollywood Park last year, Smiling Tiger turned in a hard-fought third to Big Drama in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) last November. The chestnut son of Hold That Tiger completed his sophomore campaign with a nose loss to the brilliant Twirling Candy after a stirring stretch battle in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day at Santa Anita Dec. 26.
Smiling Tiger drew the rail in the Palos Verdes and gave way in the lane as Euroears bounded away to a 2 1/4-length victory. Leaving from post 5 in the San Carlos, Smiling Tiger owns a 5-1-6 mark in 12 races and has earned $785,864. He drilled a bullet five furlongs in :58 2/5 Feb. 13.
Euroears does not return in the San Carlos for Bob Baffert (who will be represented instead by Mythical Power and Ventana), although runner-up Captain Cherokee, who finished another 2 1/4 lengths in front of Smiling Tiger at 28-1 odds, is back for trainer Steve Asmussen. Stonestreet Stables owns the 5-year-old Sir Cherokee horse who is seeking his first stakes win. He will be ridden from post 4 once again by Joe Talamo.
There does not appear to be much speed in the San Carlos and Captain Cherokee and Smiling Tiger may find themselves vying for the lead.
Joseph Lacombe Stables' 5-year-old Supreme Summit, last seen rallying from 12th to finish fourth, a head behind Smiling Tiger in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs Nov. 6, makes his return for trainer Mike Puype. The son of Cactus Ridge was also a half-length behind Smiling Tiger in the Ancient Title.
Peachtree Stable's Mythical Power was a two-time grade III winner for Baffert when routing in Texas. But he looked good winning an optional claiming allowance at seven furlongs Jan. 27 at Santa Anita and is back at the same distance. Last year's Woodward Stakes (gr. I) runner-up, the 5-year-old son of Congaree leads the San Carlos field in earnings with $794,840 while winning four of 15 races.
Ventana, second choice in the Palos Verdes, settled for fourth, a head behind Smiling Tiger in his first start since May. 1. The 5-year-old son of Toccet won the Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita last April. He will wear blinkers.
Stacy's Hope, stepping into graded stakes company for the first time for trainer Brian Koriner, ran second in a second-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs Jan. 14.
$!50,000 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Mythical Power (KY), R Bejarano, 117, B Baffert
2. Ventana (KY), M Garcia, 119, B Baffert
3. Stacy's Hope (KY), V Espinoza, 113, B J Koriner
4. Captain Cherokee (KY), J Talamo, 117, S M Asmussen
5. Smiling Tiger (KY), J Rosario, 121, J Bonde
6. Supreme Summit (KY), G K Gomez, 118, M Puype
Blinkers On: Ventana