Winless in 11 previous graded stakes tries, Halo Najib figures to never get a better chance to end the hex than he has in the $150,000 Potrero Grande Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita April 4.
Seven are entered in the 6 1/2-furlong Pro-Ride event and none of them have won a graded stakes before.
An also-ran in a number of major 3-year-old events last year for trainer Dale Romans, the Zayat Stables' son of Halo's Image has started in two sprints on the West Coast for trainer Mike Mitchell in 2009. Halo Najib ran third behind Johnny Eves in the Jan. 25 Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) and second to Georgie Boy in the San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) Feb. 21.
To be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the chestnut colt has competed in graded stakes in all but three of his 14 career starts while posting a 2-3-2 record and earning $345,993. Halo Najib ran second in last year's Lane's End Stakes (gr. II).
The likely favorite was assigned 114 pounds, one less than the co-high weights, Six Pack Abs and Paul's Hope, who have each won an optional claiming/allowance race this year.
John Sadler, battling Mitchell for the Santa Anita training title, saddles Six Pack Abs, who is coming off a head victory over Potrero Grande rival Davos March 13. Six Pack Abs has won five of 21 starts and $180,500.
Paul's Hope, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, picked up his win at Golden Gate Fields by 2 1/4 lengths Jan. 4.
La Canada Stables' Soul City Slew leads the field with eight victories from 35 starts and earnings of $360,002. He defeated a group of $50,000 claimers at Santa Anita by nearly two lengths March 22 for trainer Jack Carava.
Though he hasn't been out since June 29, Sea of Pleasure has been burning up the track in workouts at Hollywood Park for trainer Jeff Mullins. The 4-year-old Sea of Secrets colt has posted three consecutive bullet moves at five furlongs -- :57 4/5 on March 14, :57 3/5 on March 21, and :58 2/5 on March 28.
$150,000 Potrero Grande Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 3:37 p.m. PDT), 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Davos (KY), 113, Victor Espinoza
2. Halo Najib (FL), 114, Rafael Bejarano
3. Soul City Slew (KY), 113, Michael C. Baze
4. Sea of Pleasure (IL), 114, Garrett K. Gomez
5. Paul's Hope (FL), 115, Joel Rosario
6. Six Pack Abs (KY), 115, Tyler Baze
7. Trumpet Player Jay (KY), 111, Aaron T. Gryder