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In what appears to be a wide-open affair, Phil D’Amato’s 5-year-old Newgrange merits top billing as he takes on seven rivals at a mile and one eighth in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
To be run for the 86th time, the San Pasqual is a traditional steppingstone to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 2.
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m.
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Ridden for the first time by Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the Grade II San Antonio here on Dec. 26, Newgrange stalked the pace while second to the top of the lane and unfurled the best performance of his career as he came away with a 2 ¼ length score while earning a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure.
A full horse by Violence, out of the Empire Maker mare Bella Chianti, Newgrange’s connections will hope for a similar performance with Victor Espinoza engaged for the first time.
A winner of last year’s San Pasqual, Newgrange has a win and two thirds from three lifetime tries at a mile and one eighth.
Owned by Rockingham Ranch, David Bernsen, LLC and Little Red Feather Racing, Newgrange is four for six at Santa Anita and is a four-time graded stakes winner, dating back to Jan. 1, 2022, when he was trained by Bob Baffert as a newly turned 3-year-old.
With six wins and four third place finishes from 12 career starts, he has earnings of $887,634.
Bob Baffert will be well represented by a pair of starters, Newgate and Mr Fisk.
Newgate, who had been idle since winning the Grade III Robert B. Lewis here on Feb. 3, ran a big second to talented Big City Lights going 6 ½ furlongs in a second condition allowance Jan. 6 and should improve stretching out with a recent race to his credit.
In what was his first start versus older company, Newgate, who was fanned five-wide turning for home while about 3 ½ lengths off the lead, kept to his task gamely under Frankie Dettori and Big City Lights was fully extended to win by a half length.
With Dettori at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Newgate will be ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario as he bids for his second stakes victory. Owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC, et al, Newgate, a 4-year-old colt by Into Mischief, has a bankroll of $255,775 from an overall mark of 7-2-3-0.
Mr Fisk, a Sunny Brook Stables homebred 4-year-old colt by Arrogate, rates a huge chance off of two powerful stakes wins at Del Mar, an eight length score in the one mile Shared Belief Sept. 3 and a 1 ¼ length win in the Grade III Native Diver at 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 26.
Both wins came in combination with Juan Hernandez, who rides back on Saturday.
In the Native Diver, his first races versus older competition, he defeated stablemate Newgrange by 3 ¾ lengths as he came away from the field in very impressive fashion.
With what appears to be plenty of early speed signed on in the San Pasqual, Mr Fisk should be on the move turning for home as he bids for his third stakes win in a row. Out of the Maduro mare Plein Air, Mr. Fisk, who has registered consecutive Beyer of 91 and 90, has three wins and two seconds from eight career starts and earnings of $185,700.
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