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Road To Kentucky Derby: San Felipe Stakes Primer



Will it be speed as usual or will recent heavy rains alter running styles Saturday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.? That’s what nationwide bettors will wrestle with when the road to the Kentucky Derby circuit unveils the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes there.

The winner gets an automatic Kentucky Derby invitation for the May 6 Run for the Roses. With the points awarded on a 50-20-15-10-5 basis for first through fifth, the consolation prize for second and third may prove important as well.

Connections for the top 20 point-getters throughout the preliminary races will receive invites to the Derby.

Who emerges here? 

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How Will Santa Anita’s Track Play?

Frontrunning is usually the name of the game on one of the nation’s fastest tracks. But, the drying out from 6 1/2 inches of rain — which cancelled cards last weekend — may make this surface tiring. Or, it could wind up good. The tiring track would favor closers, yet that won’t be known until Saturday when 11 3-year-olds go to post at 5:30 p.m. ET for this 1 1/16-mile showcase.

Let’s take a look at the field and notes on every horse.

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San Felipe Stakes Field

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Morning-line Odds
1 Chase the Chaos Ed Moger Armando Ayuso 15-1
2 National Treasure Tim Yakteen John Velazquez 9-2
3 Practical Move Tim Yakteen Ramon Vazquez 6-1
4 Bluegrass Go Go Doug O’Neill Edwin Maldonado 30-1
5 Genius Jimmy Michael McCarthy Kazushi Kimura 15-1
6 Crypto Ride Craig Lewis Umberto Rispoli 30-1
7 Hejazi Tim Yakteen Mike Smith 7-2
8 Geaux Rocket Ride Richard Mandella Flavien Prat 4-1
9 Fort Bragg Tim Yakteen Juan Hernandez 10-1
10 Skinner John Shirreffs Victor Espinoza 8-1
11 Mr. Fisk Tim Yakteen Frankie Dettori 6-1

Chase the Chaos (15-1)

  • Moves up from two straight Golden Gate victories, including the El Camino Real. 
  • Drops back from 1 1/8 to 1 1/16 miles.
  • Has done everything asked, hitting the board in all six career starts. It will be interesting to see how Golden Gate shippers do at Santa Anita.

National Treasure (9-2)

  • Figures to be formidable opposition. He shipped from California to Keeneland, notching a nice third in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. That race was also at 1 1/16 miles, which may have been significant.
  • The Breeders’ Cup triumph made bettors back him at 3-5 in the Sham Stakes at 1 mile, but he came up third. Stalked the pace and was set to pounce, but could not get past Reincarnate and Newgate. This race is back at 1 1/16 miles, which may help him. Stalker to closer type. Has a 94 Beyer speed figure. Win candidate, especially if there’s a pace to close into.

Practical Move (6-1)

  • Enjoys a sensible progression. He triumphed at maiden special weights and then the $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity at this exact distance. Comes in off a roll. Nipped one race earlier by Newgate, who edged National Treasure. He’s right with the mix and will probably be a good price.

Bluegrass Go Go (30-1)

  • Winless in three tries and looks to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles from seven furlongs in a major stakes race. Trainer Doug O’Neill is well respected (guided 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, and 2016 Derby champ Nyquist) and has a hunch, but this would be major surprise.

Genius Jimmy (15-1)

  • Debuted at Santa Anita and finished fifth. Won on the grass here last time, but he’s back on dirt. No pattern to suggest he’s ready yet.

Crypto Ride (30-1)

  • Best effort was fourth at this distance in the California Cup Derby in January. Hasn’t won beyond maiden. This is a step up and he’s not in the best spot.

Hejazi (7-2)

  • Win threat.
  • Will be heavily bet off the connections with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who believes his horse can stretch out to a career-long 1 1/16 miles, where he finished an average third.
  • National Treasure finished ahead of him in that race, the American Pharoah Stakes.
  • His 99 Beyer in early January started a trend. The top four totals — 100 each from Hard to Figure and Newgate, 99 from Hejazi and 98 from Worcester — all occurred at speed-favoring Santa Anita. Look for him on the lead and possibly to create separation. The question is whether someone goes with him. And it might be the horse that breaks just outside.

Geaux Rocket Ride (4-1)

  • Likely pace factor to bother Hejazi at the least.
  • Won maiden race sprint by seven definitive lengths at a nice price of 6-1. Covered the six panels in 1:09.53. Could make the early pace contentious.
  • Now bolts up to 1 1/16 miles in his second effort.
  • That’s usually, but not always, too much to ask. The way he strode out suggests he can go longer than a sprint. This would be a feather in his cap.

Fort Bragg (10-1)

  • Was several lengths behind Practical Move in the Los Alamitos Futurity. Had a weak ride and was checked early, thus he might improve with better handling. Still has to make up several lengths there and race in an 11-horse field, not five. Not likely.

Skinner (8-1)

  • Distant sixth in the American Pharoah after finishing a good third in the Del Mar Futurity. Still looking to find his best stride.

Mr. Fisk (6-1)

  • Progressed nicely and broke his maiden in his third effort. But now must stretch out to much better company, a huge field and the outside post in a long race.
  • Probably too big a leap, but his connections are taking a shot.

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San Felipe Stakes Betting Tips

Hejazi wants the front and Geaux Rocket Ride and perhaps Blue Grass Go Go, coming out of a short race, will pepper him.

National Treasure and Practical Move ought to be able to make late closing charges.

I see a trifecta box 2-3-7. These horses are close in ability and it’s a matter of who has a better day. I like the 1 and 8 under in supers, but will hold off most betting until Saturday to see that surface.

Watch a couple of earlier races, not just for the joy of horse racing, but to see how this track plays. That will be very important in the San Felipe. If it’s heavy, National Treasure and Practical Move look even better.

Good luck finding your angle on this latest road to Kentucky Derby event.

Remainder of Road To The Kentucky Derby Schedule

The Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule began in September. However, the win-and-in races began Feb. 18 with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. That was the first race that awards 50 points to the winner. Below is the race schedule for the 50 and 100-point prep races, enough for the race winners to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, if entered.

Race Track Date Points For Top Finishers
Fountain of Youth Gulfstream Park Mar 4, 2023 50-20-15-10-5
Gotham Aqueduct Mar 4, 2023 50-20-15-10-5
San Felipe Santa Anita Park Mar 4, 2023 50-20-15-10-5
Tampa Bay Derby Tampa Bay Downs Mar 11, 2023 50-20-15-10-5
UAE Derby Meydan Racecourse Mar 25, 2023 100-40-30-20-10
Louisiana Derby Fair Grounds Mar 25, 2023 100-40-30-20-10
Jeff Ruby Steaks Turfway Park Mar 25, 2023 100-40-30-20-10
Sunland Derby Sunland Park Mar 26, 2023 50-20-15-10-5
Florida Derby Gulfstream Park Apr 1, 2023 100-40-30-20-10
Arkansas Derby Oaklawn Park Apr 1, 2023 100-40-30-20-10
Wood Memorial Aqueduct Apr 8, 2023 100-40-30-20-10
Blue Grass Keeneland Apr 8, 2023 100-40-30-20-10
Santa Anita Derby Santa Anita Park Apr 8, 2023 100-40-30-20-10

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