Roberts Evans’ Marsh Side, who became a grade I winner last out when pulling a 29-1 upset in the $2 million Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) at Woodbine, tops a field of 10 older turf routers in the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) Jan. 19 at Santa Anita Park.
Marsh Side, who will carry top weight of 123 pounds, is one of three San Marcos entrants being saddled by trainer Neil Drysdale. Charles Whittingham Handicap (gr. IT) winner Artiste Royal and Obrigado, runner-up in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IIT) in December, will also go for Drysdale.
The 1 1/4-mile San Marcos is race 8 on the Santa Anita card and will go to post at 4:07 p.m. PDT.
Marsh Side, a 6-year-old Gone West horse, carried an eight-race winless streak into the Oct. 4 Canadian International. But under Javier Castellano, the dark bay stalked the pace, took over in the stretch, and scored by 1 3/4 lengths for his first graded stakes.
Since the Canadian International, Marsh Side traveled to Japan to run in the Japan Cup (Jap-I) but did not get a chance to run after coming down with an illness. The Kentucky homebred has been working steadily at Hollywood Park since his return. Castellano will get the return mount on Marsh Side, who is out of the Pleasant Colony mare Colonial Play and has earned more than $1.4 million in 18 lifetime starts.
Eight-year-old Artiste Royal won once in six starts in 2008, including the June 7 Charles Whittingham at Hollywood when he rallied down the stretch to get up by a neck. The son of Danehill, who also won the grade I Clement Hirsch Memorial Turf in 2007 and is graded stakes placed eight times since 2006, enters off an 11th-place finish in the Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) in December when he was stuck in traffic throughout the stretch.
Garrett Gomez gets the mount on Artiste Royal, an Irish-bred with nearly $800,000 in career earnings.
Drysdale’s other entrant is Obrigado, a 6-year-old French-bred gelding who will be looking to snap a 10-race winless streak. Obrigado, by Enrique, last won in February 2007 when he took the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) by a half-length. He has finished third in the last two editions of the San Marcos, losing by 1 1/4 lengths to Champs Elysees in 2008. Last out, Champs Elysees defeated Obrigado by a half-length in the Dec. 6 Hollywood Turf Cup.
Among those who will be challenging Drysdale’s trio is 7-year-old Spring House, a three-time graded stakes winner with more than $700,000 in earnings. One of the victories came in last year’s San Luis Obispo at Santa Anita.
Spring House, a son of Chester House, finished ninth in the Oct. 25 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) and most recently was fourth when trying the Cushion Track in the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood. Alex Solis will ride for trainer Julio Canani.
Also with a decent chance is Ferneley, a group III winner in Ireland and runner-up last out in the Dec. 28 San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita. Trained by Ben Cecil, the 5-year-old has won once in five U.S. starts.
San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:07) 4-Year-Olds and Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
1. Cover Magic (CA), 115, Clinton Potts
2. Stream Cat (KY), 119, Joseph Talamo
3. Marsh Side (KY), 123, Javier Castellano
4. Ferneley(IRE), 115, Victor Espinoza
5. Medici Code (GB), 115, Rafael Bejarano
6. Artiste Royal (IRE), 115, Garrett Gomez
7. Obrigado (FR), 115, Joel Rosario
8. Black Astor (KY), 115, Mike Smith
9. Fitz Flag (ARG), 115, David Flores
10. Spring House (KY), 119, Alex Solis