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Aaron previews the 2024 San Vicente Stakes (G2) from Santa Anita Park, then gives his top picks from this 7-furlong dirt sprint for 3-year-olds.
Trainer Bob Baffert entered Muth and Pilot Commander in pursuit of a record 13th victory in this race, but is a potential upset on the horizon? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Second to America’s top rated Derby hopeful in his most recent start, Bob Baffert’s Muth cuts back in distance from two consecutive routes as he heads a group of six sophomores going seven furlongs in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita.
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A winner of the Grade I American Pharoah Stakes here on Oct. 7 and subsequently second, beaten 6 ¼ lengths by Todd Pletcher’s presumptive 2-year-old champion Fierceness going a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Muth seeks to give Baffert his record 13th San Vicente win.
With Juan Hernandez named to ride, Baffert, who won last year’s edition seeks his second win in a row with Santa Anita’s leading rider and his fourth San Vicente victory in the last five years.
A $2 million Ocala Breeders Sales March 2-year-old in Training Sales purchase, Muth, who is by Good Magic, was off at 1-5 in his five furlong maiden debut four starts back here on June 18, a race in which he demolished his competition by 8 ¾ lengths.
Off at 1-2 going six panels in the Grade III Best Pal Aug. 13, he finished second to stablemate and eventual Grade I Del Mar Futurity winner Prince of Monaco. In his first try around two turns, Muth, off at 1-2, cruised to a 3 ¾ length win in the Grade I American Pharoah.
Owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., Muth, with earnings of $596,600, will no doubt be a short-priced favorite with Hernandez, who seeks his third San Vicente win in-a-row, as he also took the 2022 edition with Richard Mandella’s Forbidden Kingdom.
Trainer Tim Yakteen’s Moonlit Sonata, who was away slowly versus nine rival maidens in his 6 ½ furlong debut Nov. 25 at Del Mar, is a colt by Malibu Moon who would appear to have considerable upside in what will be his second start.
Away slowly in his debut, Moonlit Sonata, who will be ridden back by Geovanni Franco, was into contention while well within himself around the far turn and finished up like a colt that could improve considerably in his next out. A $75,000 Keeneland September Yearling, Moonlit Sonata, who was dismissed at 33-1 and earned a 75 Beyer Speed Figure, is owned by Soma Racing Stables, Inc.
Baffert’s Avis choice in the San Vicente is first-out maiden winner Pilot Commander, who like Moonlit Sonata, earned a 75 Beyer. A $700,000 OBS March 2-year-old in Training Sale graduate, Pilot Commander, who is by 2018 Triple Crown Champ Justify, led gate to wire, taking his six furlong debut on Nov. 11 at Del Mar by 2 ¼ lengths.
Off at 6-5 versus five rivals, Pilot Commander, who is owned by CSLR Racing Partners, LLC, was ridden by Hernandez, but will get the services of Flavien Prat, who seeks his first San Vicente score on Saturday.
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