An intriguing field of 10 3-year-olds was entered for the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 16 at Santa Anita Park, including the top three finishers from the San Pedro Stakes last month, two horses each from the barns of Bob Baffert and Jeff Mullins, and Candy Ride filly Evita Argentina, who was second in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) last out and will look to make history by winning the 62-year-old event for the first time since 1947.
Also in the mix in the seven-furlong test is Gallant Son, who won four consecutive races at Emerald Downs last year, but was off the board in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and California Derby in his last two. The San Vicente, one of two graded stakes on the Santa Anita program, will be run on the Pro-Ride surface.
Sharing top weight of 117 pounds will be Melnyk Racing Stable’s homebred Congor Bay, winner of the 6 1/2-furlong San Pedro Jan. 19 at Santa Anita. The Mark Casse trainee came from off the pace to win the sprint by a half-length, defeating current entrants Point Attended and Cut the Check in the process.
Congor Bay, who will get the services of Canada’s top rider Patrick Husbands, is 3-0-1 from five starts. Two starts ago the son of Speightstown—Pico Teneriffe was third in the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita.
Baffert saddles Ventana, a son of Toccet who was fifth in the San Pedro but only two lengths from the front, and Wall Street Wonder, an impressive 5 1/4-length maiden winner Jan. 24 at Santa Anita. A speedy son of City Place, Wall Street Wonder is expected to be on the front end under Joel Rosario, as they break from the rail.
Mullins’ two chances are Gato Go Win, also a colt who likes things on the front end, and Virginia-bred gelding Leedstheway, who is undefeated in two starts. Both horses enter off allowance victories at Santa Anita.
Halo Farms and Three Sisters Thoroughbreds’ Evita Argentina was a surprise entry for trainer John Sadler. The most accomplished of the 10 starters in the San Vicente, she won the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) at Del Mar as a juvenile and also took the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park in her 2008 finale. Last out, the chestnut closed from well back to miss by 1 1/2 lengths in the Jan. 17 Santa Ynez. That late kick is one of the reasons Sadler decided to match her against the boys for the first time.
“She’s a late running sprinter,” he said. “This was really the only race for her, so we’re going to give it a try.”
Top rider Garrett Gomez will be aboard Evita Argentina.
Also on the card at Santa Anita is the $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT) for fillies and mares going one mile on the turf. A full field of 12 was entered, along with a pair of also-eligibles.
Carrying top weight of 119 pounds is British invader Modern Look, who makes her U.S. debut for Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bobby Frankel. That same combination won the Buena Vista a year ago with another English-bred mare, Costume.
Modern Look has won four of eights starts in England and France, including group II and group III events. The 4-year-old daughter of Zamindar has earned more than $260,000 thus far. Gomez will get the mount on Modern Look, who makes her 2009 debut.
Also in the strong field are capable contenders Foxysox and Magical Fantasy.
Winless in five races in England in 2005, British-bred Foxysox went on a tear after being purchased by Warren Williamson and joining the barn of Carla Gaines. She won her first four U.S. starts, including a pair of grade III competitions. The 6-year-old mare is coming off a victory in Santa Anita’s Tuzla Handicap (gr. IIIT) Jan. 25, her fifth graded stakes triumph in this country. Rafael Bejarano rides the daughter of Foxhound, who has compiled a career record of 7-2-4 in 24 starts, for earnings of $681,118.
Magical Fantasy’s last four races have been against grade I company and include a 42-1 upset in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. I) last summer. Another British import, but bred in Kentucky, the 4-year-old daughter of Diesis has earned $274,431 from a lifetime mark of 2-3-0 in 11 starts. Alex Solis rides the chestnut filly trained by Paddy Gallagher for David Bienstock, Paul Mandabach, and Charles Winner.
The Buena Vista will also mark the 48th and final career start for 6-year-old I Can See, who is headed for the breeding shed. The one-eyed mare is due to be bred to Exchange Rateat Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky.
$150,000 Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey 1. Foxysox (GB), 118, Rafael Bejarano
2. Jibboom (KY), 117, Pedro Arambula
3. Belmont Cat (NZ), 115, Joel Rosario
4. I Can See (KY), 115, Aaron T. Gryder
5. Miss Singhsix (IRE), 114, Martin Garcia
6. Santa Teresita (KY), 114, Michael C. Baze
7. Tizfiz (KY), 5 Mare 118 Agapito Delgadillo
8. Modern Look (GB), 119, Garrett K. Gomez
9. Annie Skates (KY), 113, Joseph Talamo
10. Charming Legacy (IRE), 114, Tyler Baze
11. Magical Fantasy (KY), 118, Alex O. Solis
12. Bahama Mama (IRE), 115, David Romero Flores
AE Trouble Maker (MD), 113, Victor Espinoza
AE Highland Torree (KY), 113, Martin Garcia