Two contenders in the handicap division were back on the Santa Anita Park work tab Feb. 11, but they're likely heading in different directions for their next races.
Gary and Mary West's West Coast, the de facto leader in the division after his second-place run in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and the subsequent retirement of Horse of the Year Gun Runner , logged an easy three-furlong work in :36 3/5. It was his first timed drill for trainer Bob Baffert since the Jan. 27 Pegasus at Gulfstream Park.
Baffert has not committed to a race target for the 4-year-old Flatter colt, but said the two-time grade 1 winner has been invited to participate in the Dubai World Cup (G1).
"It was just a maintenance work," Baffert said. "We don't know yet (about Dubai). We got an invite, but we're waiting to see. We haven't really decided yet."
"I liked what I saw," Eurton said. "It was really good."
Although Giant Expectations had a less-than-optimal trip in the Pegasus, with an outside draw in post 12 and a pressing trek behind frontrunners Collected and Gun Runner, Eurton was still impressed with how the San Antonio Stakes (G2) winner gave a good account of himself.
"To be honest I was really quite proud of him," Eurton said. "Coming out of the 12 hole, we had to use him quite a bit to get over and I could see his face going into that first turn. He looked like he was pretty lit. Then, instead of dropping over and taking a breather, he didn't. He engaged for the next three parts of the race and he just wasn't good enough—:46 and change (for a half-mile) on that track, I think is above his cruising speed.
"He was trying to win, and I dig that, but it took a toll on him."
Eurton said the next start for Giant Expectations will likely come March 10, but he has a decision to make. His options are the Triple Bend Stakes (G1)—which is at the same seven-furlong distance he won the 2017 Pat O'Brien (G2) at—or the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at 1 1/4 miles, which would be his longest race to date.
In other news from Santa Anita:
• Baffert said Sunday that San Vicente (G2) runners Nero (second) and Ax Man (fourth) will likely stretch out to two turns in their next starts. "That was a big step up (for Nero)," Baffert said. "Now he can stretch out from there." Nero was engaged in the pace early in the San Vicente, then dropped back slightly to stalk, while Ax Man was locked inside a brutal speed duel and tired late. "I'll stretch (Ax Man) too, but that was too bad. When I saw :22 and :44 (fractions through a half-mile), that was it. ... He's going to be a tired puppy for the next two or three days."
• Trainer Richard Baltas also reported fifth-place San Vicente finisher Kris' Rocket Kat came out of the race "severely dehydrated." With a hot pace to run at, the Eskendereya colt never made up significant ground from behind and the trainer suspected something might be wrong. After the race Kris' Rocket Kat spiked a fever of 104 degrees and Baltas said he and his staff were at Santa Anita until 8:30 p.m. Saturday night to make sure he got fluids back into his system. Baltas said he will consider running the colt without Lasix in his next start.
• Kaleem Shah's grade 1 winner American Gal put in her third work of the season for trainer Simon Callaghan Sunday, when she ran a half-mile in :49 flat. Callaghan said the 4-year-old Concord Point filly could make a return to racing in the March 24 Santa Monica Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita, but if she isn't ready for that race, she will train up to the Humana Distaff (G1) at Churchill Downs in May. She last raced in August, when she won the Longines Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.
• Keith Brackpool's Dalsaros, a recent first-level allowance winner who is out of multiple grade 1 winner Ask the Moon, could be heading out of town for her next start. After a six-furlong work in 1:14 2/5 Sunday, trainer Carla Gaines said she could ship the lightly raced 5-year-old Unbridled's Song mare to Oaklawn Park for the Feb. 17 Bayakoa Stakes (G3).