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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kentucky Derby Prep Race: San Felipe Stakes Entries at Santa Anita Park March 14

Six race horses will take on Pioneerof the Nile Saturday when the West Coast’s leading Kentucky Derby contender continues his journey down the Triple Crown trail in Santa Anita Park’s $200,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2).

The 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes is a prep race for the Kentucky Derby 135 at Churchill Downs on May 2. Santa Anita’s San Felipe entries with jockeys and weights in post position order:

He’s Really Big under jockey Aaron Gryder carries 115 lbs.
Pioneerof the Nile under jockey Garrett Gomez, 122 lbs.
Feisty Suances under jockey David Flores, 115 lbs.
Shafted under jockey Joel Rosario, 115 lbs.
Jeranimo under jockey Brice Blanc, 115 lbs.
Kelly Leak under jockey Victor Espinoza, 115 lbs.
New Bay under jockey Joe Talamo, 115 lbs.
Following tenacious victories in Hollywood Park’s CashCall Futurity (G1) and last month’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita, Pioneerof the Nile will be heavily favored to gain his third graded stakes win on Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes.

Zayat Stable’s homebred son of Empire Maker is the colt, Pioneerof the Nile, whom race horse trainer Bob Baffert feels is destined to return him to Triple Crown prominence after his sensational run of 8 triumphs within 6 years ended the 2002 season.

Two-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Garrett Gomez, the national leader in purse earnings while seeking a fourth straight title, will attempt to extend his perfect relationship with Pioneerof the Nile to 3 consecutive victories. Carrying high weight of 122 pounds in the San Felipe, Pioneerof the Nile will break from post position No. 2.

A winner of 8 Breeders’ Cup races, the 39-year-old jockey Garrett Gomez maintains a blank slate when it comes to Triple Crown events as well as the Santa Anita Derby and the San Felipe.

Last weekend, Pioneerof the Nile’s Triple Crown stock escalated when I Want Revenge ran off with Aqueduct’s Gotham Stakes (G3) by 8 1/2 lengths after losing to Pioneerof the Nile by a nose and 1 1/2 lengths in the CashCall Futurity and Lewis Stakes, respectively.

Pioneerof the Nile’s opposition includes Woodford Racing’s Kentucky Derby hopeful Shafted, who was sent off at odds of 6-1 in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes following an impressive 2 1/2-length allowance race victory going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on January 2. However, the son of Mineshaft, trained by Mark Casse, showed little in the Lewis when finishing eighth.

Shafted’s connections offered no excuse for the chestnut colt’s poor effort behind Pioneerof the Nile that day, but are cautiously optimistic that he will return to his earlier form in the San Felipe.

The San Felipe Stakes is horse race 4 in Santa Anita Park’s March 14 card. San Felipe post time is 2:03 pm.

Horse racing news edited from www.santaanita.com.

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