Michael House's three-time graded stakes winner Big John B will look to regain his impressive form from the recent past in the $200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes (gr. IIT) March 13 at Santa Anita Park. Santa Anita Park, Sunday, March 13, 2016, Race 8
Although the 7-year-old Hard Spun gelding trained by Phil D'Amato hasn't won in his last four starts—although he finished third in the John B. Connally Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) last time out Jan. 31 and came in second to The Pizza Man three back in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IIT)—in recent years, he's shown he can turn a losing streak around quickly.
In 2014, Big John B won three straight races on the Southern California circuit—including the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT)—then went winless in three starts before turning it on again in 2015 for another three-race win streak, this time including the Cougar II Handicap (gr. IIIT) along with the Del Mar Handicap for the second consecutive year.
ANGST: Big John B Repeats in Del Mar Handicap
The only other U.S. graded winner in the full field of 12 for the 1 1/2-mile turf test is Pablo Gomez's Quick Casablanca, who earned his graded victory in the 2014 Last Tycoon Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita, but hasn't found the winner's circle in nine starts since for trainer Ron McAnally.
Other last-out winners could be live options, including another from the D'Amato barn in Havanna Belle—one of four females in the race—who won the Astra Stakes Jan. 17 going the same 1 1/2-mile distance. Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar's Patentar also provides a last-out score, albeit at the allowance/optional claiming level.
Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale has four entered in the San Luis Rey, most notably 7-year-old mare Gaga A, who finished a game second to Flamboyant last time out Feb. 6 in the San Marcos (gr. IIT).
LEWYN: Flamboyant Keeps Rolling in San Marcos
A group III winner in France, Gaga A won a 1 1/2-mile turf stakes in her first U.S. start back in June of 2015, when the T.H. Approval mare took the Possibly Perfect Handicap at Santa Anita.
Graded stakes-placed runners Power Foot, Going Somewhere, and Highball will look to break through, along with stakes-placed Energia Fribby and allowance winners Southern Freedom, Life's Journey, and Generosidade.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Southern Freedom (KY) Martin Garcia 120 Jerry Hollendorfer 12/1 2 2Quick Casablanca (CHI) Tyler Baze 120 Ronald L. McAnally 6/1 3 3Power Foot (KY) Gary L. Stevens 120 Neil D. Drysdale 8/1 4 4Going Somewhere (BRZ) Mike E. Smith 120 Neil D. Drysdale 5/1 5 5Life's Journey (KY) Jose L. Verenzuela 120 Marsha D. Schwizer 50/1 6 6Energia Fribby (BRZ) Drayden Van Dyke 115 Neil D. Drysdale 15/1 7 7Havanna Belle (IRE) Brice Blanc 115 Philip D'Amato 6/1 8 8Highball (KY) Flavien Prat 120 Philip D'Amato 12/1 9 9Generosidade (URU) Tiago Josue Pereira 115 Paulo H. Lobo 30/1 10 10Gaga A (URU) Mario Gutierrez 115 Neil D. Drysdale 4/1 11 11Big John B (FL) Rafael Bejarano 122 Philip D'Amato 3/1 98 12Patentar (FR) SCRATCHED 0 UNKNOWN -
Santa Anita Park, Sunday, March 13, 2016, Race 8