ARCADIA, CA – Trainer Jorge Navarro was on hand early Sunday morning as his top pupil Shancelot put in his final work for Saturday’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G1) over the local main track. The race is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Sprint.

( Content Continues Below Ad )

After breaking away from his pony on the backstretch, Shancelot worked 4 furlongs over the main track, with the on-track clockers catching him in :47.20. Navarro said he was most impressed by the stretch run and that Shacelot didn’t want to pull up after the wire.

“When he got to the 1/4 pole, he took off like he always does,” Navarro said. “When he tried to pull up, he wanted to keep going. That’s what I like to see.”

Following the conclusion of the summer meet in June, Santa Anita Park’s main track underwent extensive renovations with an eye on improving safety and track conditions. Riders have commented that the dirt is much deeper since it reopened for works in mid September, a sentiment that Navarro was quick to share.

“If I hadn’t worked him on this track, then we would’ve been in trouble (for Saturday),” Navarro said. “This is why we came out early. I wanted him to get a good feel for it before he has to race.”

East coast-based jockey Chris DeCarlo, Shancelot’s regular exercise rider for much of his training, landed at 1 am on Sunday and flew back just 11 hours later. DeCarlo was happy with how the 3-year-old colt took to the new surface.

“It’s got a lot of cushion, but it’s firm on the bottom,” said DeCarlo, who won the 2016 Santa Ana Stakes (G2) in his most recent local start. “It’s good. With the track being deeper, some horses get a good hold of it. He was able to get a hold. The dirt is lighter here (compared to the east coast tracks).”

Shancelot and jockey Chris DeCarlo (right) head to the Santa Anita Park track along with Jorge Navarro (far left) and his groom, “Shortie” (gray shirt) – Credit Curtis Kalleward

Shancelot began his career winning three straight, culminating in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) at Saratoga in his graded stakes debut. The son of Shanghai Bobby suffered his first defeat in his most recent effort, the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1), getting caught at the wire while running on a dead Saratoga rail. Navarro said that the loss was a learning experience for both the horse and Emisael Jaramillo, Shancelot’s jockey and one of Navarro’s top go-to riders.

“We didn’t talk about (the loss) until about a week ago,” Navarro said. “He went straight to the deep part of the track. He thought he was so fast, he could jump the fence, run on the turf, jump back, and still win. Sometimes, the best horse just gets beat.”

On Saturday, Shancelot is expected to face off against fellow sophomore Omaha Beach, the Arkansas Derby (G1) winner and Kentucky Derby (G1) morning line favorite who missed the Run for the Roses after trainer Richard Mandella discovered an entrapped epiglottis.

A full preview will be available on www.RacingDudes.com later this week.