Already loaded with a barn full of standout 3-year-olds making an early name for themselves on the Triple Crown trail, Bob Baffert may have another future star ready to make a splash when undefeated Conveyance makes his stakes debut in the $100,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 16 on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface.
Conveyance, a son of Indian Charlie, out of the Holy Bull mare Emptythetill, will face only four rivals in the one-mile San Rafael. His main competition could be Domonation, who finished second to Tiz Chrome—one of Baffert’s highly regarded sophomores—on Dec. 19 in Hollywood Park’s Stuka Stakes. The San Rafael is a leading prep for the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 3.
Purchased privately by Zabeel Racing International this week, Conveyance was a $240,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase in 2008. He made a successful debut at Santa Anita in October when breaking his maiden by 1 1/2 lengths. The following month, Conveyance went wire-to-wire in a seven-length allowance score at Hollywood, stopping the clock in 1:09 flat for six furlongs.
“He’s a really fast horse; he reminds me of Holy Bull,” said Baffert, who trains Lookin At Lucky, the leading Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender as of now. “He’s big and long-striding, and has a lot of athleticism. I’ve been high on him since day 1; he’s really talented. He took a while to come around but he’s starting to find himself.”
Conveyance, bred in Kentucky by Gulf Coast Farms, has been working impressively at Santa Anita. His final work for the San Rafael came on Jan. 11 when he went five furlongs in :58.80, handily, the second fastest time of 37 that day. Garrett Gomez will ride the gray/roan colt and break from post 3.
Joy Ride Racing and La Cresta Farm’s Domonation will also be making his 3-year-old debut for John Sadler. The Maria's Mon colt rallied well to finish runner-up by four lengths to Tiz Chrome in the 6 1/2-furlong Stuka in his stakes debut. The month before, he broke his maiden by a nose at third asking at Hollywood Park. Domonation lost both of his starts at Santa Anita last fall.
Unlike the speedy Conveyance, Domonation has done his best running by coming from well off the pace. Sadler is hoping the extra ground will benefit his colt, who is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Snickeez. Joel Rosario stays aboard.
Sadler will also send out Via Verde, the fourth place finisher of the one-mile Eddie Logan Stakes Dec. 28 on the Santa Anita turf. The son of Cherokee Run broke his maiden on the grass in October after two failed attempts on the main track. Rafael Bejarano will be in the irons for the first time.
The other two entrants are Cardiff Giant, who won a $40,000 claiming race at Hollywood in November, and English-bred Lucky Rave, the third-place finisher in the Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) in his second start in the U.S. Lucky Rave won impressively twice in England before finishing 10th to Lookin At Lucky in the Oct. 4 Norfolk (gr. I) in his North American debut.
$100,000 San Rafael (gr. III, Race 3, 1:31 p.m.), 3YO, 1 Mile (Pro-Ride) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Cardiff Giant (KY), V Espinoza, 116, J Periban
2. Domonation (KY), J Rosario, 116, J W Sadler
3. Conveyance (KY), G K Gomez, 116, B Baffert
4. Lucky Rave (GB), A O Solis, 116, P Eurton
5. Via Verde (KY), R Bejarano, 116, J W Sadler