Second in his last three starts, Misremembered can make amends for trainer Bob Baffert when it counts most in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 6. The race lacks a clear standout and consequentially drew 14 entrants.
Misremembered, to be ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia, will have to overcome a wide draw in the 13th post for the 1 1/4-mile pro-Ride event.
Among the other leading contenders is Jeranimo, who defeated Misremembered in the Strub Stakes (gr. II) three weeks ago but lands in the far outside post in the giant field. Others who will vie for attention are the Irish-bred Loup Breton, winner of the San Marcos Handicap (gr. IIT) on turf in his last start; San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II) victor Neko Bay; the streaking mare St Trinians, who captured the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. II) most recently; and grade I winners Mast Track and Marsh Side .
St Trinians and Loup Breton have been established as the race favorites on Santa Anita's morning line with St Trinians the mild choice at 7-2. Loup Breton is at 4-1.
Neko Bay, Loup Breton, Mast Track and Marsh Side each accepted the high weight assignment of 117 pounds, an indication of just how evenly matched this field appears to be. St Trinians, with a sex allowance, is the field's light weight at 113.
Santa Anita Park officials are holding their breath over weather conditions for a program that includes five stakes, including two other grade I events worth $250,000 apiece -- the Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, and the Frank E. Kilroe Mile on the turf. The Pro-Ride racing surface has been bedeviled by drainage problems following heavy rainfall this season, resulting in the cancellation of five racing dates.
The early forecast for Arcadia, Calif., March 6 calls for a 70% chance of rain, according to weather.com, though there is not much rain expected in the region before then.
The Big 'Cap, sponsored by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, is the 10th race on the card with a probable post of 4:38 p.m. PST.
Since winning the grade II Indiana Derby Oct. 3, Misremembered has posted runner-up finishes in three consecutive races -- the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs and the Malibu (gr. I) and Strub Stakes at Santa Anita, the latter as the 7-10 favorite. In the Strub, the stalking 4-year-old son of Candy Ride made a strong bid in the stretch run but gave way to the irrepressible Jeranimo in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Bred and trained by Baffert, Misremembered has four wins and four seconds in 10 lifetime starts with earnings of $738,589.
“He’s feeling great,” said former jockey Joe Steiner, who worked Misremembered six furlongs on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface March 1 in a bullet 1:12.20. “He’s a cool horse. He has really filled out, and he’s going from a boy to a man. I think he keeps getting better.”
Loup Breton, group I-placed in France prior to transferring to trainer Julio Canania in Southern California last fall, would be trying a synthetic surface for the first time in the Big 'Cap. The 6-year-old Irish-bred son of Anabaa has won two of three starts here, including the 1 1/4-mile San Marcos by a half-length over a "good" turf Jan. 24.
To be ridden once again by Garrett Gomez, Loup Breton has won three times at the 10-furlong distance while compiling a lifetime mark of 5-4-2 in 21 starts with earnings of $677,614. He is favorably drawn in post six for Gomez, who has never won the Santa Anita Handicap.
St Trinians, who was originally targeted for the Santa Margarita Invitational (gr. I) March 13 by trainer Mike Mitchell, became a Big 'Cap contender rather than face the champion mare Zenyatta. If successful, she would be the first female to win the race in 73 renewals.
Bred in Great Britain, where she raced through 2008, St Trinians has exceeded all expectations in Southern California by winning her four starts by a combined 16 1/2 lengths. In her most recent victory in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria, she left 2009 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) victress Life Is Sweet behind by 1 3/4 lengths with a flashy turn of foot.
Winner of the Paseana Handicap by 3 3/4 lengths prior to that, the 5-year-old mare has won seven of her 11 lifetime starts and $268,587. St Trinians faced males five times in Great Britain and won three of those races.
Jeranimo has put it all together for trainer Michael Pender this year, winning two of three starts and finishing fourth in a troubled trip in the Sunshine Millions Classic Jan. 30. That preceded his game tally in the Strub, in which he split foes to get the lead late en route to a 1 1/4-length triumph.
The 4-year-old son of Congaree was on the Triple Crown trail briefly last year before heading to the sidelines in April for six months. He finished third in Santa Anita's San Felipe Stakes (gr. II).
Neko Bay, owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, registered his first graded-stakes win in the San Pasqual Jan. 9 when he rallied five-wide in the 1 1/16-mile test for jockey Mike Smith to score impressively by nearly two lengths. The 7-year-old son of Giant's Causeway has won five races in his career, all at Santa Anita (in nine tries). Overall, he has finished in the money in 11 of 13 starts while banking $323,020.
Neko Bay is one of two entered by trainer John Shirreffs, who also has Mast Track in the field.
The latter, a 6-year-old by Mizzen Mast formerly owned and bred by trainer Bobby Frankel, won the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park Dec. 12. Most recently, he faded to sixth after setting the pace in the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 7.
The 2008 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner, now owned by Stronach Stables, lost the San Antonio by just one length. He appears to be the pacesetter once again.
Trainer Neil Drysdale will give Robert S. Evans' 7-year-old Marsh Side another shot on the synthetic track following a seventh-place showing in the San Antonio. Marsh Side has not had an official victory since he captured the 2008 Canadian International (Can-IT) eight races ago.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer entered a pair in Dakota Phone, who just missed by a head to Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) hopeful Richard's Kid in the San Antonio, and grade II winner Rendezvous, third in the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 16.
Multiple graded winner Delightful Kiss, most recently third in Gulfstream Park's Donn Handicap (gr. I) one month ago, and grade III Canadian winner Pool Play ship in and merit consideration as part of a contentious group.
$750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I, Race 10, 4:38 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Pick Six (KY), A O Solis, 114, D L Hendricks
2. St Trinians (GB), J Rosario, 113, M R Mitchell
3. Rendezvous (KY), J Talamo, 114, J Hollendorfer
4. Neko Bay (KY), M E Smith, 117, J A Shirreffs
5. Eagle Poise (KY), T Baze, 114, W I Mott
6. Loup Breton (IRE), G K Gomez, 117, J C Canani
7. Mast Track (KY), D R Flores, 117, J A Shirreffs
8. Pool Play (ON), C Sutherland, 114, M E Casse
9. Marsh Side (KY), M A Pedroza, 117, N D Drysdale
10. Tiger's Rock (KY), D Cohen, 114, M W McCarty
11. Dakota Phone (KY), V Espinoza, 114, J Hollendorfer
12. Delightful Kiss (FL), J C Leyva, 115, P D Anderson
13. Misremembered (KY), M Garcia, 116, B Baffert
14. Jeranimo (FL), R Bejarano, 116, M Pender