Hejazi breaking his maiden at Santa Anita Jan. 15, one race after finishing third in the GI American Pharoah. (Benoit Photo)
Hejazi heads Baffert quartet now under Yakteen to start in Grade II Kentucky Derby prep race
Santa Anita Press Release/Edited
ARCADIA, Calif.— One of four Bob Baffert trainees that will be saddled for the first time by Tim Yakteen, Hejazi heads an outstanding field of 11 sophomores going a mile and one-sixteenth in Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.
One of America’s most important Derby preps, the San Felipe winner will be awarded 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with the second through fifth place finishers receiving 20, 15, 10 and five points.
Although as yet unproven going a route of ground, New York-bred Hejazi has been near brilliant on two occasions and with a $3.5 million price tag as a 2-year-old in training this past May, will hope to be a show-stopper in the San Felipe with Mike Smith Back aboard.
Favored in three out of his four starts, Hejazi comes off a brilliant 1 ¼ length maiden score at 1-2 going 6 ½ furlongs here on Jan. 15, earning a 99 Beyer Speed Figure.
In his only try around two turns, Hejazi, who was off at 5-2, was a well beaten third two starts back behind stablemate Cave Rock in the Grade I American Pharoah at a mile and one sixteenth.
Off as the even money favorite in his second start, Hejazi ran second going 5 ½ furlongs behind stablemate Speed Boat Beach. And although he was beaten 1 ¼ lengths, Hejazi posted a lofty 100 Beyer. Owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., Hejazi, who is by Bernardini out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare G Note, is 4-1-2-1 and will hope to procure a berth in the Run for the Roses with victory on Saturday.
An impressive first-out maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs at Del Mar Sept. 3, National Treasure was then second in the Grade I American Pharoah going a mile and one sixteenth here on Oct. 8, was third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 4 at Keeneland and was most recently third, beaten one length as the 3-5 favorite by stablemate Reincarnate (third in Saturday’s Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park) going one mile in the Grade I Sham Stakes here on Jan. 8.
With John Velazquez riding for the fifth consecutive time, National Treasure, who was purchased as a yearling for $500,000, will no doubt command considerable respect heading into the 86th running of the San Felipe. A bay colt by Quality Road out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Treasure, National Treasure is 4-1-1-2 and is owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stable, LLC, et al.
A well beaten third as a maiden three starts back in the Grade I, seven furlong Del Mar Futurity Sept. 11, C R K Stable’s Skinner was then distanced in the Grade I American Pharoah here on Oct. 8, but was an ultra-impressive 3 ¼ length one mile maiden winner off the bench here on Feb. 12 and thus looms a major contender in Saturday’s San Felipe.
Trained by John Shirreffs and ridden by Victor Espinoza, Skinner was next to last early in his maiden win and rallied like an A-List Derby hopeful in his maiden score while earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
A $510,000 Ocala, FLA 2-year-old in training sale purchase last April, Skinner is by Curlin out of the Malibu Moon mare Winding Way.
With Flavien Prat back in the saddle, Richard Mandella’s speedy Geaux Rocket Ride, a brilliant 5 ¾ length first-out maiden winner here going six panels on Jan. 29, takes a giant leap on Saturday in what will be only his second start. Purchased for $350,000 as a yearling, Geaux Rocket Ride is a Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride out of the Uncle Mo mare Beyond Grace. Owned by Pin Oak Stud, LLC, Geaux Rocket Ride earned a 92 Beyer while outrunning his 6-1 odds.
An impressive one-mile maiden winner here on Jan. 2, Sunny Brook Stables homebred Mr Fisk has kept good company in all three of his starts and would appear to have significant upside as one of the four Baffert alums.
A close second to next-out winning stablemate Reincarnate in a one mile maiden race two starts back on Nov. 25 at Del Mar, he defeated another next-out winning stablemate, Harlocap, by three quarters of a length in his maiden score and thus would appear to have a solid two turn foundation heading into his first graded stakes assignment.
A Kentucky-bred colt by Arrogate, Mr Fisk has been ridden in last two starts by Juan Hernandez but will get the first-time services of Frankie Dettori in the San Felipe.
Although Yakteen will be busy pinch hitting for Baffert with Hejazi, National Treasure, Mr Fisk and Fort Bragg, he’ll also be saddling Practical Move, who he sent out to a handy 3 ¼ length victory in the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 17.
Dismissed at 10-1, Practical Move stalked the early pace and drew off to win by 3 ¼ lengths under Ramon Vazquez, who rides back on Saturday. A bay colt by Practical Joke out of the Afleet Alex mare Ack Naughty, Practical Move, although never worse than third, was winless in four starts heading into the Los Alamitos Futurity, which was his second two-turn assignment.
Owned by Jean Pierre Amstoy, Jr., Leslie Amstoy and Roger Beasley, Practical Move sold as a 2-year-old in training for $230,000.
Special early first post time for a 12-race card on Saturday that will also include the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap presented by Yaamava’ Casino & Resort, the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile and the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes, is at 12 noon with admission gates opening at 10 a.m.