ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 2, 2022)—In what shapes up as an important prep to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, C R K Stable’s Express Train heads a field of six older horses going a mile and one eighth in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita.
A game nose winner over A-List sophomore Hot Rod Charlie in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes going a mile and one sixteenth on Dec. 26, Express Train is the defending champ in the San Pasqual and he’ll be seeking his fourth graded stakes win on Saturday.
Trained by John Shirreffs, Express Train will be ridden back by Victor Espinoza, who delivered the mail at odds of 7-1 on opening day. A 5-year-old horse by Union Rags, Express Train is easily the leading money earner in the field with $815,800 from an overall mark of 15-5-4-3.
A newly turned 4-year-old, Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Law Professor prevailed in a protracted stretch battle with Grade I winner Beyond Brilliant to take the Grade II Santa Anita Mathis Mile by a half length on Dec. 26 and he has the look of a “now horse” as he bids for his third consecutive victory.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Law Professor, a 4-year-old gelding by Constitution, was ridden to consecutive wins by Jose Ortiz and will be handled for the first time by Juan Hernandez in the San Pasqual. With a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure in hand, Law Professor, who had raced on turf in his previous two starts, was off at 4-1 in the Mathis Mile, which was switched to the main track due to heavy rains. With three wins from seven starts, Law Professor seeks his second stakes win.
With John Velazquez riding him back, Bob Baffert’s Eight Rings, who went to the front in the opening day San Antonio and nearly dead heated with Hot Rod Charlie for the place while beaten a half length by Express Train, rates a big chance in what will be his 14th career start. A Grade I winner here at two, Eight Rings is a 5-year-old horse by Empire Maker seeking his second graded stakes win and his fourth overall.
In a dominant gate to wire performance, trainer George Papaprodromou’s American Theorem took a second condition allowance at a mile an one sixteenth by 2 ¼ lengths over Shooter’s Shoot on Jan 2 and was flattered by the fact the runner-up came back to post a big second here in Saturday’s Grade III Palos Verdes Stakes.
Owned by Kretz Racing, LLC, American Theorem, who earned a 90 Beyer on Jan. 2, will likely employ similar front-running tactics with Mike Smith back aboard.
A Derby prospect a year ago, Baffert’s Spielberg came back running off a 9 ½ month freshening to rally from off the pace and register a three length win in a one mile second condition allowance Jan 14 and will be ridden back by Flavien Prat as he seeks his second graded stakes win. A 4-year-old colt by Union Rags, Spielberg is owned by Golconda Stables, Madaket Stables LLC, SF Racing, LLC, et al and is 10-3-3-1 overall.
THE GRADE II SAN PASQUAL WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT
Kiss Today Goodbye—Abel Cedillo–120
Express Train—Victor Espinoza—124
American Theorem—Mike Smith—120
Eight Rings—John Velazquez—120
Law Professor—Juan Hernandez–124
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m., admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Express Train/Benoit Photo