The Potrero Grande is part of a stakes card that includes the grade I Santa Anita Derby and three grade II races. Five rivals will be on the look-out for Surf Cat in the 6 1/2-furlong synthetic track test.
Brilliant as a 4-year-old in 2006 when he won three consecutive grade II races for trainer Bruce Headley, Surf Cat put it all together again to post his first synthetic track triumph Feb. 16 when he defeated Greg's Gold by a half-length in the San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) at seven furlongs.
Rallying from near the back of the pack, the son of Sir Cat overcame a moderate pace carved by Johnny Eves with an outside move through the stretch to edge past Greg's Gold late. That snapped a four-race losing streak for the lightly raced Surf Cat, who is owned by Headley's wife, Aase, and Marsha Naify.
Surf Cat is to carry top weight of 120 pounds -- one more than Greg's Gold -- and will have his regular pilot, Alex Solis, aboard leaving from post 4. He is three-for-four at the 6 1/2-furlong distance while possessing a career record of 8-5-1 in 16 starts and earnings of $795,420.
The 7-year-old California-bred gelding Greg's Gold, coming off a two-month layoff in the San Carlos for trainer David Hofmans, is closing in on the $1-million mark in career earnings with $947,923. The son of Lake George, owned and bred by Bill Boswell, probably had the worst of it the San Carlos, outfighting Johnny Eves for the advantage in upper stretch before being caught nearing the wire. Victor Espinoza retains the mount.
Mooncoin's California-bred Johnny Eves faded to fourth, 2 3/4 lengths behind Surf Cat, in the San Carlos. He'll be reunited with David Flores in the Potrero Grande. They teamed to win the seven-furlong Malibu (gr. I) against 3-year-olds Dec. 26 by one length for trainer Jay Robbins. The son of Skimming returned to lose the 1 1/16-mile San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) in the second leg of the Strub series before the San Carlos.
The field also includes El Roblar, returning after an absence of nearly 10 months. Richard Mandella trains the 6-year-old son of War Chant, a two-length winner of the 7 1/2-furlong Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track in his final start prior to being sidelined. Owned by Stonestreet Stables, El Roblar has won five of 12 lifetime starts.
$200,000 Potrero Grande Handicap (gr. II, Race 4, 1:30 p.m.), 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. El Roblar (KY), 118, Richard Migliore
2. Sailors Sunset (KY), 115, Tyler Baze
3. Peace Chant (KY), 115, Michael C. Baze
4. Surf Cat (KY), 120, Alex O. Solis
5. Greg's Gold (CA), 119, Victor Espinoza
6. Johnny Eves (CA), 117, David R. Flores