Stars of Yesterday: Wanting Again at Greatest San Felipe Stakes Winners

Saturday’s card at Santa Anita Park contains the $300,000, Grade 2 DK Horse San Felipe Stakes. A few of California’s prime 3-year-olds will sq. off within the closing native prep race for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

After all, many of those horses have their eyes on greater prizes. The highest 5 finishers will earn factors towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Offered by Woodford Reserve, with the winner getting 50 factors.

The San Felipe was first held in 1935, and has been restricted to 3-year-olds since 1941. Since 1952, it has been held at its present distance of 1 1/16 miles. It has been a Grade 2 race since 1989.

Right here, we’ll have a look again at a number of the greatest horses to win the San Felipe.


CAREER RECORD: 29 begins, 22 wins, 5 seconds, 1 third


Affirmed was already a really acquainted identify to racing followers going into the 1978 Derby path. He was voted champion 2-year-old male of 1977 on the energy of three Grade 1 wins. All of these victories got here in opposition to one other promising colt named Alydar, who turned the tables on Affirmed within the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes in the direction of the tip of the yr. Whereas Affirmed spent nearly all of 1977 on the east coast, coach Laz Barrera determined to ship him west in early 1978 to organize for the Kentucky Derby.

He started his 3-year-old season with an allowance race on March 8, which he gained handily by 5 lengths. Eleven days later, he squared off in opposition to 5 rivals within the San Felipe Handicap. Because the highweight of the sector by 4 kilos, Affirmed was the 3-10 favourite.

He needed to sweat slightly bit however nonetheless obtained the job accomplished. Celebrity jockey Steve Cauthen, carrying the pink and black Harbor View Farm silks, rated Affirmed off the lead then requested him for run across the closing flip. Nevertheless, early chief Likelihood Dancer refused to present in and valiantly held onto the lead. With the 2 matching strides down the stretch, the end result was doubtful till the final sixteenth, when Affirmed lastly wore the longshot down and drew off to a two-length win.

The San Felipe was simply the beginning of Affirmed’s momentous 3-year-old season. He gained his subsequent two Derby preps handily, then swept his method by the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes to grow to be the 11th Triple Crown winner. In every race, his archrival Alydar completed second. The Belmont noticed a titanic duel between the 2 rivals, with Affirmed in the end prevailing by a head.

As a 5-year-old in 1979, Affirmed gained 5 extra Grade 1 races, together with a win over the good Spectacular Bid within the Jockey Membership Gold Cup. He turned the primary horse to earn greater than $2 million in a profession, retiring because the all-time main cash earner.


CAREER RECORD: 25 begins, 8 wins, 8 seconds, 3 thirds

CAREER EARNINGS: $1,618,043 

Desert Wine was already well-accomplished going into the 1983 San Felipe Handicap. He was a three-time graded stakes winner, and had completed second in three extra stakes, together with the Hollywood Futurity, which on the time was the richest race for 2-year-olds in American racing historical past.

To start his 3-year-old marketing campaign, Desert Wine gained the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes by 2 ¼ lengths because the 13-10 favourite. On the energy of that win, he was an amazing 7-10 favourite in a discipline of six for the San Felipe.

Chris McCarron despatched Desert Wine out to the lead, however acquired fixed strain from longshot Straightforward Money. In the meantime, Invoice Shoemaker saved second selection Naevus proper off the battle then pounced when Straightforward Money started to fade. The 2 favorites duked it down down the stretch, whereas Naevus started to float out. Though Naevus crossed the end line a head in entrance, the stewards posted inquiry the signal not lengthy after the race.

After some deliberation, Naevus was disqualified from first and positioned second. Desert Wine was put up because the winner, guaranteeing his standing as California’s prime Derby prospect.

Desert Wine’s star dimmed a bit in his subsequent two races. He was sixth because the 9-10 Santa Anita Derby favourite, then was second within the Blue Grass Stakes. Nevertheless, he redeemed himself within the Triple Crown, with runner-up finishes within the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. As a 4-year-old, he was even higher, profitable three Grade 1 races in California.


CAREER RECORD: 14 begins, 9 wins, 5 seconds, 0 thirds


Going into the 1989 San Felipe Handicap, Sunday Silence regarded loaded with potential however hadn’t confirmed a lot on the observe but. He had by no means raced in opposition to stakes firm, and had by no means gone past 6 ½ furlongs. In a first-level allowance race 17 days earlier than the San Felipe, he gained by 4 ½ lengths on a moist observe. Off that race, he was the 8-5 second selection on the morning line for the San Felipe, and closed at 2.90-1. Music Merci, a three-time stakes winner, was the overwhelming 1-2 favourite.

After a tough break, Pat Valenzuela moved Sunday Silence right into a stalking place, whereas longshot Sure I’m Blue opened up an extended early lead. When that rival light, each Sunday Silence and Music Merci made strikes after the chief. Whereas Music Merci fell flat, Sunday Silence saved going, and drew off to win by 1 ¾ lengths.

Regardless of that win, Sunday Silence wasn’t the favourite within the Santa Anita Derby. Houston, a promising colt from the D. Wayne Lukas barn, was 9-10, whereas Sunday Silence was 2.40-1. Nevertheless, whereas Houston struggled, Sunday Silence rolled to an 11-length win, quashing all Californian doubters, and giving the highest 3-year-old on the east coast, Straightforward Goer, a worthy rival.

Because it turned out, Sunday Silence and Straightforward Goer would enter the historical past books intertwined. Sunday Silence beat him within the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, however Straightforward Goer turned the tables within the Belmont Stakes. Of their closing assembly in the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Traditional, Sunday Silence held off the frantic late rally of Straightforward Goer to win by three-quarters of a size and clinch Horse of the Yr honors. He’s one in every of 4 horses to win the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Traditional in the identical yr.


CAREER RECORD: 24 begins, 9 wins, 6 seconds, 2 thirds


By 1992, it had been precisely 30 years since a California-bred horse gained the Kentucky Derby. Bertrando regarded like an excellent guess to snap that drought going into the 1992 San Felipe. As a 2-year-old he gained two graded stakes in California, after which was second to Arazi within the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. For his 3-year-old debut within the San Felipe, he was the 2-5 favourite within the six-horse discipline.

He needed to work exhausting, however Bertrando obtained the job accomplished. Alex Solis, as ordinary, put him on the lead, and was compelled to set brutal fractions whereas being hounded by Hickman Creek. Regardless of the tempo strain, Bertrando held sway within the stretch and gained by three-quarters of a size whereas holding off a late rally from Arp.

This race set the stage for a Santa Anita Derby showdown with one other promising 3-year-old in A.P. Indy. Bertrando was the 11-10 second selection whereas A.P. Indy went off because the 9-10 favourite. After Bertrando set the tempo, A.P. Indy wore him down for a 1 ¾-length victory.

Sadly, Bertrando by no means obtained the possibility to finish the California-bred Derby drought. An sickness sidelined him for the subsequent eight months. He returned good as new at age 4 with three graded stakes wins. The headliner was a monstrous 13 ½-length win within the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park, which earned him the standing of Breeders’ Cup Traditional favourite. He completed second in that race behind 133.60-1 longshot Arcangues.

ARTAX (1998)

CAREER RECORD: 25 begins, 7 wins, 9 seconds, 3 thirds


Though he would make the most effective use of it later in his profession, Artax flashed loads of pace on the 1998 Derby path. Within the Santa Catalina Stakes he set the early tempo, held off strain, and drew off to a 5 ½-length win. Off that efficiency, he was the 6-5 favourite within the San Felipe Stakes. He confronted solely 4 rivals, together with an up-and-coming Bob Baffert trainee named Actual Quiet. That colt went on to do nice issues, falling only a nostril in need of a Triple Crown victory within the Belmont Stakes.

On this present day, nonetheless, Artax prevailed. Chris McCarron put him on the early lead, setting a quick opening quarter-mil of twenty-two.80 seconds. As soon as McCarron established early place, he drastically slowed the tempo down. The half-mile break up was 46.85 seconds, representing a second quarter in simply 24.05 seconds. With that form of tempo benefit, Artax was in a position to maintain on to the lead all through. Though Actual Quiet gave him a problem late, Artax crossed the end line a head in entrance.

That proved to be his final triumph round two turns. He was unable to get to the lead in both the Santa Anita Derby or the Kentucky Derby and turned in disappointing performances each occasions. After an uninspiring streak in California, Artax was despatched east in March 1999 to the barn of coach Louis Albertrani.

Beneath Albertrani’s care, Artax competed completely at shorter distances. The technique labored brilliantly as he gained 4 graded stakes in 1999 and completed second in 4 extra. Within the Carter Handicap, he set a seven-furlong observe document at Aqueduct, masking the space in 1:20.04. He concluded his season with a half-length rating within the Breeders’ Cup Dash.


CAREER RECORD: 9 begins, 6 wins, 2 seconds, 0 thirds

CAREER EARNINGS: $1,994,400 

“FuPeg” made waves earlier than he even raced. On the Keeneland July yearling sale in 1998, Japanese businessman Fusao Sekiguchi bought him for an unbelievable $4 million. A son of Mr. Prospector out of a Danzig mare, FuPeg was bred for greatness.

A late-developing and rambunctious scort, FuPeg didn’t win his first race till Jan. 2 of his 3-year-old yr, breaking his maiden by two lengths because the 1-5 favourite. After an allowance win he was made the 1.30-1 favourite within the seven-horse San Felipe discipline. Amongst his rivals had been two-time stakes winner The Deputy, reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Anees, and eventual Belmont Stakes winner Commendable.

Kent Desormeaux gave Fusaichi Pegasus an incredible journey within the San Felipe, patiently score him off pace-setting Commendable. Commendable had opened up a two-length lead coming into the stretch, however Desormeaux requested FuPeg to go and he simply glided by the chief. He crossed the end line three-quarters of a size in entrance, holding off the late rally of The Deputy.

After a powerful Wooden Memorial win Fusaichi Pegasus was made the two.30-1 favourite within the Kentucky Derby. He lived as much as expectations, rallying from behind for a 1 ½-length win. He turned the primary favourite to win the Derby since Spectacular Bid in 1979.

He raced solely thrice after the Derby. Following a second-place end because the 3-10 favourite within the Preakness Stakes, he disappeared till a win within the Jerome Handicap in September. He concluded his profession with a sixth-place end as the favourite within the Breeders’ Cup Traditional.


CAREER RECORD: 13 begins, 9 wins, 3 seconds, 0 thirds


Level Given had a robust 2-year-old marketing campaign in 2000, establishing himself as the highest Derby hopeful in Bob Baffert’s barn. He gained two graded stakes races and completed second within the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Level Given didn’t make his 3-year-old debut till the March 17 San Felipe. He was backed because the overwhelming 2-5 favourite within the discipline of eight.

Breaking from the surface put up, Gary Stevens rated Level Given in midpack early on whereas the pacesetters set very quick fractions. As they rounded the ultimate flip, these three started to present method and Level Given launched a robust five-wide rally. By the point they hit the eighth pole, Level Given had opened up a cushty margin, in the end crossing the end line 2 ¼ lengths in entrance.

After a dominant 5 ½-length Santa Anita Derby rating, the Kentucky Derby regarded like a coronation for Level Given. Nevertheless, he was a disappointing fifth, crushed 11 ½ lengths by Monarchos, who completed within the second-fastest Derby time ever. For the remainder of the yr, Level Given was good. He swept his method by the remainder of the Triple Crown, profitable the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes by open lengths. He gained the Haskell Invitational by half a size, then capped off a Horse of the Yr season with a 3 ½-length Travers Stakes win.


CAREER RECORD: 10 begins, 5 wins, 1 second, 1 third

CAREER EARNINGS: $1,634,200 

Pioneerof the Nile entered the 2009 San Felipe as the highest Derby prospect in California, if not the whole nation. He gained the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in his prior two begins. Bettors made him the consensus selection within the San Felipe as he left the gate because the 3-10 selection.

Second favourite New Bay opened up a transparent early lead, whereas Garrett Gomez saved Pioneerof the Nile towards the again of the six-horse discipline within the first quarter. Sensing the sluggish tempo creating in entrance of him, Gomez allowed Pioneerof the Nile to inch up towards the leaders. Simply after the half-mile level, Pioneerof the Nile had moved alongside New Bay and continued to press turning for residence. Within the stretch, Gomez requested him to go and Pioneerof the Nile gained by 1 ¼ lengths.

After a one-length win within the Santa Anita Derby, Pioneerof the Nile was the 6.30-1 third selection within the Kentucky Derby. He made what regarded like a profitable transfer on the far flip however managed no higher than second behind the dramatic rally of longshot Mine That Chook. Pioneerof the Nile’s racing profession ended following an 11th-place end within the Preakness Stakes, however he made maybe his greatest influence within the breeding shed. A son from his second crop, American Pharoah, went on to win the Triple Crown in 2015.


CAREER RECORD: 27 begins, 16 wins, 4 seconds, 1 third

CAREER EARNINGS: $14,752,660

Coming into the 2014 San Felipe, California Chrome was thought to be a colt with numerous potential, however he hadn’t completed loads in opposition to open firm. He had gained three stakes races in opposition to California-breds however had but to win a graded stakes race. The San Felipe regarded like it will be his class take a look at and bettors made him a 7-5 favourite to move it.

Victor Espinoza instantly put California Chrome on the lead and encountered tempo strain from second selection Midnight Hawk. That rival despatched him by sturdy fractions, going by the opening quarter-mile in 23.09 seconds and a half-mile in 45.55 seconds.

As they rounded the ultimate flip, California Chrome wasn’t exhibiting indicators of slowing down. The truth is, he was opening up on Midnight Hawk, who had no response in any respect. Within the closing eighth of a mile, Espinoza geared him down and he crossed the end line 7 ¼ lengths in entrance. This win immediately established him as one of many Derby favorites.

California Chrome continued to impress within the Santa Anita Derby, profitable by 5 ¼ lengths. He was the 5-2 favourite for the Kentucky Derby and he gained that as properly, turning into the primary California-bred to win the Derby since 1962. After his Preakness Stakes win, he was the 9-10 option to win the Triple Crown within the Belmont Stakes. Nevertheless, he completed fourth, defeated by 1 ¾ lengths by Tonalist.

After the Belmont, California Chrome continued so as to add to his résumé. He gained six extra graded stakes, together with the 2016 Dubai World Cup. In 2014, he was third within the Breeders’ Cup Traditional, and was second in that race in 2016. He was named Horse of the Yr in each of these years, regardless of his Traditional defeats. When he retired, he was the all-time earnings chief in American racing.


CAREER RECORD: 8 begins, 6 wins, 2 seconds, 0 thirds


Bob Baffert appeared loaded with Derby contenders on the 2020 Derby path, and Genuine was one in every of them. Off a win within the Sham Stakes, he was the 6-5 favourite within the seven-horse San Felipe discipline. Amongst his rivals had been stakes-winning stablemate Thousand Phrases and reigning TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Storm the Court docket.

There was little drama at any level within the contest. Drayden Van Dyke put Genuine on the early lead and by no means acquired any severe challenges for the highest spot. Genuine gained by 2 ¼ lengths, with Storm the Court docket third and Thousand Phrases a nonthreatening fourth. That win proved a harbinger of issues to return.

With the Kentucky Derby postponed to September because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Genuine had extra time to organize for the massive race. He took full benefit, profitable the Haskell Invitational and ending second within the Santa Anita Derby. Within the Kentucky Derby, he scored a front-running upset win over heavy favourite Tiz the Legislation, then misplaced a dramatic stretch duel within the Preakness Stakes to Swiss Skydiver. Genuine capped off his Horse of the Yr season with a 2 ¼ size win within the Breeders’ Cup Traditional, turning into the fourth horse to win each the Derby and the Traditional in the identical yr.


CAREER RECORD: 12 begins, 9 wins, 1 seconds, 0 thirds


Some buzz horses on the Kentucky Derby path fizzle out with a whimper when the deep water of elite competitors will get a bit rougher, however that almost all definitely was not the case with Life Is Good within the 2021 San Felipe Stakes … and past.

The bay colt by Into Mischief entered the San Felipe off back-to-back front-running wins in his debut Nov. 22, 2020, at Del Mar and in his first begin as a 3-year-old (and stakes debut) within the Sham Stakes in January 2021 at Santa Anita. Life Is Good was despatched off because the 1-2 favourite within the San Felipe, rapidly opened a three-length lead, and dominated by eight lengths to enhance to 3-for-3 for coach Bob Baffert. The 107 Beyer Velocity Determine painted Life Is Good by far the quickest 3-year-old on paper on the 2021 Kentucky Derby path, however he was subsequently injured and missed the U.S. Triple Crown races.

He returned in the summertime for brand new coach Todd Pletcher. After tasting defeat for the primary time when second within the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes, Life Is Good closed his 3-year-old season with dominant runaways wins within the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap and Huge Ass Followers Breeders’ Cup Filth Mile. As a 4-year-old in 2022, Life Is Good added Grade 1 wins within the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes, Whitney Stakes, and Woodward Stakes.

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