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San Felipe Stakes Preview: Baffert Duo Squares Off in Tough Prep
Thousand Words winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (Credit: Benoit Photo)

San Felipe Stakes Preview: Baffert Duo Squares Off in Tough Prep

It’s really nice to have the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2) back after it was cancelled last season during all of Santa Anita Park’s troubles. Like most California stakes, it drew a smaller field, but don’t be deceived: with four strong headliners, this might be the strongest Kentucky Derby (G1) prep of the weekend. Santa Anita Park put together a solid 12-race card on Saturday, which will also feature the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap (G1). The San Felipe will go off as race 8 with a post time of 3:07 PM PT.  

Much to the surprise of absolutely no one, trainer Bob Baffert is loaded for this race. He’ll send out the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) winner Thousand Words, as well as the Sham Stakes (G3) winner Authentic. That 1-2 punch should be tough to beat, especially since each horse has a different running style. Authentic drew post 4 with Drayden Van Dyke up, while Thousand Words will break from post 5 with Flavien Prat aboard. 

We’ll finally get to see what Honor A. P. can do after a five-month absence from the track. When we last saw him, he completely dominated a maiden special weight field at Santa Anita, winning by 5 1/4 lengths. His hype grew tremendously, but a minor setback forced him to miss the Sham. He seems to be back at full strength now and is the most interesting horse in the race. He drew post 2 and will have Mike Smith up for the ride.

Let’s not forget about Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Storm the Court, who will look to rebound after a poor effort last time out in in the San Vicente Stakes (G2). That race was considered a prep for this event, though, so he could be ready to show improvement. Joel Rosario will have the mount when he breaks from post 6.

The full field from the rail out: Fort McHenry, Honor A. P., Wrecking Crew, Authentic, Thousand Words, Storm the Court, and Swagsational

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Top Choice 

#4 Authentic – If he can repeat his Sham effort here, then he will be tough to beat. After a nice maiden special weight score on debut at Del Mar, Authentic backed up that performance in a big way, taking home the Sham by an eye-popping 7 3/4 lengths. He ran eratically down the stretch, reportedly due to the crowd noise, which is something that he’ll need to overcome, but Baffert believes that he’s corrected that by running him with ear plugs this time. He’s squarely the one to beat. 

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers 

#2 Honor A. P. – To be completely honest, it’s hard to know what to expect out of him today. After his maiden breaking score last time out, several handicappers in California thought that he was the most talented juvenile on the west coast. Minor setbacks have kept him from running since that effort, but he’s all the buzz when he’s on the track for morning workouts, and he looks like a beast of a horse physically. I’m not sure if you can trust him enough to put him on top, but he is not a horse who you want beating you in your multi-race wagers.

Exotic Plays

#5 Thousand Words – He has been what I would label as “workman-like” in his last two efforts, both of which were graded stakes victories. There’s nothing flashy about him, but he’s proven to be talented, and it’s a positive sign that Prat chose to ride Thousand Words over Storm the Court. This horse still seems to be figuring it all out, but he’s yet to lose in three starts. 

Party Crashers

#6 Storm the Court – This seems to be a make-or -break event when it comes to him making the Kentucky Derby. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) winner did not come back strongly in his 3-year-old debut, finishing fourth in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) last time out, but hopefully that effort was used as more of a workout to prepare him for this race. Even with improvement, though, it’s still questionable if his talent level is high enough to make a serious Derby run. We’ll find out in this spot. 

Throw Outs

#3 Wrecking Crew – They continues to give this horse chances in these types of races. He’s not bad, but it’s been proven over time that he just doesn’t match up with this caliber of competition. 

#7 Swagsational – The good news is that this horse has won three straight coming into this event. The bad news is they all came against weak company at Turf Paradise. This will prove to be a major jump up in class for him. 

#1 Fort McHenry – What in the world is he doing here? Out of nowhere, new trainer Doug O’Neill entered him for his first start on the west coast. He might be California Chrome’s little brother, but he’ll need at least a 30-length improvement if he wants to make an impact. 

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