'Ats' Makes Stakes Debut in San Felipe

(from track report)
The $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old prospects is a critical race for two reasons: money and timing.

Most of the 10 candidates entered for Sunday's 1 1/16-mile race virtually are committed to run, despite a weather forecast that calls for a 70 percent chance of rain on Saturday and the likelihood of an off track.

Horses on the cusp for Triple Crown participation need graded-money earnings from the San Felipe if they hope to qualify for the Kentucky Derby on May 3.

Timing wise, if the connections aspire to reach the April 5 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and beyond, they have little margin for error.

But one horse that doesn't necessarily have to win to move forward is Atswhatimtalknbout. The $900,000 son of A.P. Indy who will be making his stakes debut for owner B. Wayne Hughes and his new Hollywood partners, a group that includes Academy Award-winning producer/director Steven Spielberg, director Gary Ross and producer Frank Marshall.

"He doesn't have to win," trainer Ron Ellis said Friday morning. "And now we have to throw into the equation that we got mud, so we'll have to see how that goes, what kind of track it is and everything. But he doesn't have to win, just (run) a decent race. There's a lot of speed in the race, they tell me, so we'll see."

Ellis concedes that earnings and timing are important, but indicated he would not run if the track was not to his liking. "(But) if the track was a hard, sealed race track, we would probably just train up to the Santa Anita Derby and have to rely on getting earnings out of that, so it's going to depend on what kind of track it is, really. We won't be able to evaluate until race day."

As for the Hollywood entourage attending on Sunday, Ellis said he "hasn't talked to Spielberg, but I know the rest of the people are coming out. I've kind of heard that he (Spielberg) might come out, but I know the other group is coming out and they're bringing people with them. They've got a little entourage of 15 or so, so it should be exciting."

If Ellis reaches the Kentucky Derby, it would mark the first time he'd run a horse in the Run for the Roses.

"I usually haven't had this kind of horse," said the Glendale native, who celebrated his 43rd birthday on Monday. "It's just the last couple years we've gotten some good enough to try for a run at the Derby. This is the first one and it would be the first for Wayne, which would be great, because he understands the game, he's building (his 3-year-old stable) and he's excited about the sport right now. He's kind of retired from his day-to-day operations of Public Storage (the nationwide storage company which he owns) so he can come out here and have something to enjoy. It's a good time for us right now."

In other San Felipe developments, Craig Dollase has engaged Kent Desormeaux to ride Logician, and the 32-year-old trainer is looking forward to the race.

"It might come up an off track, so we'll see how that plays out," Dollase said of Logician, a $520,000 Tabasco Cat colt owned by his principal client, J. Paul Reddam. "But, like everybody else, we need the graded money. The spacing of the race is good for us. The San Felipe fits nicely, so I'm anxious to see what we've got come Sunday."

Logician, a dark bay or brown California-bred, has a maiden win and two thirds from five starts, with modest earnings of $47,100.

Logician's lone poor effort came in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I), in which he finished sixth, beaten eight lengths by Toccet. He came back to break his maiden by 6 ½ lengths in his next race, a Cal-bred maiden special weight affair at one mile on Jan. 12. Dollase hopes Logician moves forward from his race on Feb. 28, when he was third as the 4-5 favorite in a 1 1/16-mile allowance test.

"With 3-year-olds this time of year, you never know," Dollase said. "He needed that last race. He's coming into this race good. He had a good work at Hollywood (Thursday morning, three furlongs in a bullet :35.40), so we'll see."

Bob Baffert, trainer of Santa Catalina (gr. II) winner Domestic Dispute, said "I'm nervous" about Sunday's weather as he directed a seven-furlong workout by General Challenge, who was clocked in 1:25.60. Domestic Dispute, who will have Jerry Bailey aboard, shoulders top weight of 122 pounds Sunday.

Man Among Men blew out three furlongs on Hollywood Park's fast main track Friday in :37.60, breezing, for Gary Mandella.

Track superintendent Steve Wood said there is a 70 percent chance of rain on Saturday. "I expect it to start between 5 in the morning until 7," Wood said. "It should turn to showers on Sunday, but we'll seal the track and protect it as much as we can."

$250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse, Rider, Wgt.
1. Man Among Men, Alex Solis, 116
2. Flirt With Fortune, Corey Nakatani, 116
3. Buckland Manor, Mike Smith, 116
4. Siberland, Tyler Baze, 119
5. Buddy Gil, Gary Stevens, 119
6. Domestic Dispute, Jerry Bailey, 122
7. Atswhatimtalknbout, David Flores, 116
8. Brancusi, Tony Farina, 116
9. Ten Cents A Shine, Pat Valenzuela, 116
10. Logician, Kent Desormeaux, 116