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The Racing Dudes team recaps Forbidden Kingdom proving to be uncatchable by the Bob Baffert brigade in Saturday’s San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park, then discuss who they like moving forward toward the Kentucky Derby (G1), including any potential longshots.
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The track press release:
In a thoroughly dominant performance, trainer Richard Mandella’s Forbidden Kingdom blasted off from the gate and never looked back en route to a 2 ¼ length victory in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Juan Hernandez, the chestnut son of American Pharoah got seven furlongs in 1:22.75 and stamped himself a candidate for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 9.
Fresh off a troubled second place finish going seven furlongs in the Grade III Bob Hope Stakes Nov. 14 at Del Mar, Forbidden Kingdom made no mistakes today from his rail post position as he carved out sizzling splits of 21.86, 44.49 and 1:09.31.
“He’s as quick as they come,” said Mandella, who indicated he would stretch Forbidden Kingdom out to a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes here on March 5. “In his last race, he tore a piece of his foot off (after stumbling at the start) and then we had a quarter crack. We had to fix it up and it is good and we hope it stays good.
“We’ll have to try two turns down the road here. He’s gotten better about everything. He was so professional today, everything went well. He used to get a little antsy in the gate. He’s stumbled a few times.”
With odds-on favorite Doppelganger running a disappointing fourth, Forbidden Kingdom was never at any point challenged. Off at 7-2, he paid $9.80, $4.00 and $4.40.
“He has a lot of speed and sometimes he just runs off, but today he was a little different horse,” said Hernandez, who has ridden Forbidden Kingdom in all four of his starts. “It looked like he settled down a little bit more, so that helped a lot…He was really happy and comfortable there, so I just let him run.
“I felt at the quarter pole the other horses were coming from behind, so I just tapped him on the shoulder and I felt how he responded back, he never stopped.”
Owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm, LLC, Forbidden Kingdom, who is out of the Five Star Day mare Just Louise, picked up $120,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $194,000 while notching his second win.
Bob Baffert stablemates Pinehurst and McLaren Vale ran one-two, separated by neck. Pinehurst, who sat second the entire trip, was off at 9-5 and paid $3.00 and $3.60 with Mike Smith up.
Ridden by Abel Cedillo, McLaren Vale, who sat third throughout, finished a neck clear of stablemate Doppelganger and paid $4.80 to show while off at 8-1.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Doppelganger, an impressive first-out maiden winner going six furlongs at Los Alamitos Dec. 11, never threatened for the win but hit his best stride late while finishing 20 lengths clear of longshot What in Blazes.
GRADE II, $200,000 SAN VICENTE STAKES QUOTES
JUAN HERNANDEZ, FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, WINNER: “He has a lot of speed and sometimes he just runs off, but today he was a little different horse, he just relaxed a little bit more and it looked like he settled down a little bit more, so that helped a lot. Last time I think he went a little quick, but today he went to the lead. He was really happy and comfortable there, so I just let him run.
“I felt at the quarter pole the other horses were coming from behind me, so I just tapped him on the shoulder and I felt how he responded back, he never stopped. Everybody at the barn loves this horse and Mr. Mandella had him ready. Thank you to everyone at the barn for having this horse ready.”
RICHARD MANDELLA, FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, WINNER: “He’s as quick as they come. In his last race, he tore a piece of his foot off and then we had a quarter crack. We had to just fix it up and it is good and we hope it stays good. We’ll have to try two turns down the road here. He’s gotten better about everything. He was so professional today, everything went well. He used to get a little antsy in the gate. He’s stumbled a few times.”
Is the San Felipe (Grade II, $400,000 at 1 1/16 miles March 5) on your radar? “Probably, yes.”
JOE MORAN, MYRACEHORSE, FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, WINNER: “It’s incredible you can hear everyone’s energy, coming down the lane and even before the race that’s what it’s all about. Purchasing this horse as a yearling, I think it made it that much more special. Right after the hype of Authentic winning the Kentucky Derby, we bought into him into his career as a developed horse. So, to do all the development with this horse, it makes it more special… Trainer Richard Mandella has done a wonderful job to get tis horse to relax in the mornings.”
NOTES: The winning owners are MyRacehorse & Spendthrift Farm, LLC.
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