Rescheduled for Jan. 24 after stormy conditions washed out the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday racing card at Santa Anita, the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at 1 1/4 miles on turf attracted a field of 10, with Irish-bred and mostly French raced Loup Breton heading the cast.
Loup Breton, whose stretch run fell a neck short in the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) as the 7-5 favorite on Dec. 27, appears likely to be every bit as well fancied in the re-drawn San Marcos. The original lineup of nine remains intact and drew an additional entrant in the British-bred Deal Breaker.
Even though the field includes a Breeders’ Cup champion in Muhannak, who scored a 12-1 upset in 2008’s inaugural Marathon, Loup Breton would appear to rate prime consideration.
Wildenstein Stable’s 6-year-old bay overcame a poor start in his United States debut for trainer Julio Canani on Nov. 19 at Hollywood Park when charging from far behind to take an allowance event at 1 1/8 miles on turf under jockey Garrett Gomez.
In the San Gabriel, at 1 1/8 miles over Santa Anita’s Camino Real Turf Course, Loup Breton was running fastest of all at the wire when just failing to overhaul victorious Proudinsky .
Gomez, who recently won his fourth consecutive North American purse earnings title, will be back aboard in an effort to provide Canani with his first San Marcos victory since he saddled Putting in 1990.
While based in France, Loup Breton faced many of Europe’s stellar campaigners including such standouts as Goldikova, Duke of Marmalade and Never On Sunday. His victories included the Prix Daphnis (Fr-III) at Longchamp in 2007 and the Prix d’Harcourt (Fr-II) at Longchamp in 2008. Last year, he was a close second to Vision d'Etat in the Prix Ganay (Fr-I) at Longchamp.
Loup Breton comes into the San Marcos with earnings of $587,614 from an overall record of $587,614.
Canani also entered Dynamic Range, making his stakes debut for Mercedes Stable after posting back-to-back wins in optional claiming allowance races in his two most recent starts.
Irish-bred Muhannak, a 6-year-old Chester House gelding, failed to duplicate his 2008 showing in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon when finishing a distant fifth in last November’s renewal at Santa Anita.
Formerly based in England, he was subsequently turned over to the care of Santa Anita-based trainer Ben Cecil, who will return the marathoner to a grass surface. Martin Pedroza will ride Muhannak, who is winless in eight starts since his Breeders’ Cup success. A winner of two of 10 on grass, Muhannak’s overall record is 7-1-2 in 23 starts for earnings of $437,371.
Also with a chance is a third Irish-bred contender, High Court Drama, a 5-year-old horse by 1987 male turf champion Theatrical.
High Court Drama won an optional claiming race on Hollywood Park’s turf course in his U.S. debut last Nov. 15, followed by a second in the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) on Cushion Track Dec. 12. Trained by Doug O’Neill for Chris McHale, High Court Drama has a 3-4-1 record from 12 starts, with earnings of $111,039.
Riviera Cocktail, trained by Neil Drysdale, steps up a notch off a close fourth-place finish in the Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. IIIT) Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old son of Giant's Causeway won a restricted stakes over the Hollywood Park lawn prior to that.
$150,000 San Marcos (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:36 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Aggie Engineer (KY), A O Solis, 115, P Gallagher
2. Pearl Fisher (KY), J Valdivia Jr., 115, N French
3. Deal Breaker (GB), R Bejarano, 115, M R Mitchell
4. Zappa (KY), M E Smith, 115, J W Sadler
5. Muhannak (IRE), M A Pedroza, 115, B D Cecil
6. Loup Breton (IRE), G K Gomez, 115, J C Canani
7. Dynamic Range (KY), V Espinoza, 117, J C Canani
8. High Court Drama (IRE), M C Baze, 115, D F O'Neill
9. Riviera Cocktail (KY), J Rosario, 115, N D Drysdale
10. Porfido (CHI), J Talamo, 115, H Ascanio