San Carlos Stakes (Grade 2)- $250.000 Purse
SA- For Three Year Olds and Upward
Seven Furlongs on the Dirt
June 23, 2018
There will be a field of eleven heading to the starting gate for the 14th running of the San Carlos Stakes, a Grade 2 long sprint at SA. The very first running of the race was won by Alpha Ultimo in 2005, and ever since then there have been many well known virtual horses that have been victorious in this race. The purse has bounced around somewhat, ranging from $150.000 when Alpha Ultimo, to a high of $300.000 in 2016, so right now we are near the high end. It has been a good race for Mb Stables, who has won the last two editions. Spring Lover, who won the Metropolitan Handicap just a couple weeks ago, was the winner of this race last year. Let’s take a look at our runners!
#1- Out On A Limb (Jader Stable, ridden by J R Velazquez)- He will make his debut for Jader Stable in this race just ten days after being acquired in private sales from Smokey Stover for $10.000. Out On A Limb ran second in the BC Dirt Mile last season, coming from off the race as a longshot. That is typically his running style, and it has worked quite well for him throughout his career. He has continued to run well this year, and his most recent race was a victory at the muddy CD on Derby Day. Since then, he has been resting up while continuing to produce strong works.
#2- Gold Sunset (Maze Stables, ridden by J Talamo)- This is a very lightly raced four year old, and he makes just his seventh start in this one. He’s won just one of them, coming at the free track in his third start. Recently ran second in an open allowance at GG, one of two open allowances he has attempted despite being eligible for N2L allowances. The trainer has never won a graded stake, and for that to change here, Gold Sunset is going to have to get better. Recent work at a mile, though still solid, is nearly a second slower then Out On A Limb. Tough assignment here.
#3- Scripted (Mb Stables, ridden by J L Ortiz)- The trainer has three chances to extend his winning streak in the stake to three, and all of them seem to be strong contenders. With Scripted, Mb Stables brings to the race the winner of the $400.000 Carter Handicap in April, which is also a seven furlong race, held at AQU. His most recent outing saw him disappoint as the betting favorite at the Grade 2 CD, a race won by Out On A Limb. Scripted was just seventh in that field, and that’s with the mighty F Pennington in the saddle! He probably just didn’t like the muddy going, is primed for a bounce back here.
#4- Sonar (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- In his last start, Sonar was victorious in the Grade 3 Fleet Sprint Handicap, picking up his ninth win in sixteen starts. I always like a horse that knows how to find the winners circle, and Sonar has been very good at that. He has spent most his career running six furlongs, or seven furlongs. When running six furlongs, as he did in the Fleet Sprint, he is 3-for-3, and we’ll given him his 6 ½ race for that as well, and call him 4-for-4. At seven furlongs, he is 2-for-8. Not sure if that means anything or not, but in a close field, it’s worth noting.
#5- Saturday Khartoum (Rousee, ridden by M E Smith)- The gelding by Hong Kong Phooey closed out his three year old season running very well, including a second place showing in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler, where he ran a 102 SRF. This year started well also, winning the $100.00) SSM Sprint, topping Scripted in the process. However, Saturday Khartoum is still looking for that first graded win. He has made a couple attempts since the Bold Ruler, and is coming up short. He’ll contend, but there’s a few in here that I think he will have a tough time beating.
#6- Rodeo (Allinthegate, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Making his 22nd career start in the race, Rodeo may be on the best form of his life right now. He has won his last two, each being an open allowance, and that streak can be carried out a little more to say he’s won three of five. He’s been in the money in his last six, and is consistently able to earn some sort of check for the trainer. Now, he will attempt a graded stake for the second time. Back in 2016, he did try the Kings Bishop, but that was a long time ago. As long as that form continues, Rodeo is tough to bet against, but this is a jump in class, too.
#7- Hooligans Holiday (Threshold, ridden by J R Leparoux)- Makes his graded stake debut after about two and half months of rest since his last start. That was a win in the $80.000 Caica Electronica at AQU, a similar seven furlong race. He is two for two since being acquired by Threshold in private sales back in December for $21.750. The time off is likely more a product of looking to find the perfect race of distance for him without needing to worry about three year olds. Though this is three and up, there are no threes in the race, so the trainer will be happy with the test that Hooligans Holiday has here. He’s otherwise unproven, so this is about seeing what he can do against this level.
#8- Insect (Mb Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- The third of the Mb Stables entries, this Di Medici gelding has won seven of his 18 career starts, and looks to win his third in a row. He has also been very good with I Ortiz Jr in the saddle, and while we all know he is no F Pennington, Insect is four-for-four with I Ortiz Jr aboard. Speaking of the great Pennington, though, he was aboard when Insect picked up the biggest win of his career, the Grade 1 Forego. You have to like how consistent that Insect is, and he is capable of putting together some big SRF’s. He’s one of the top threats in this field.
#9- Commanding Brit (Lemax Farms, ridden by E Jaramillo)- Closed out his three year old season on great form, highlighted by two second place finishes, coming in the $200.000 Damascus, and the Grade 3 Mr Prospector. He didn’t win a ton last year, but several places allowed him to accumulate solid earnings. The trainer would have hoped he would build on that this year, and while he did win the Grade 3 GP Sprint Championships in March, showing he still can turn out a big one, his other three races have led to off the board finishes, and disappointment.
#10- Benzar (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by C J Lanerie)- This colt has only won two out of his fifteen career races, but he keeps getting good challenges from the trainer. Recently, he has been running over a mile, and was even seen at the Pegasus World Cup in January. Until his last race, the LS Handicap last month, the routes have not been going as well. Going back to last year, his career high SRF, of 100, came in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler in October. He was fourth there, but if he can channel that effort here, he could pull off an upset. Might go at a decent price, and worth a shot if the odds climb too high.
#11- Valiant Phan (Angelos Stable, ridden by C Hill)– Seemed to be a rather nondescript runner until late last year. Sometime in a two week span around Thanksgiving, Valiant Phan just seemed to figure this racing thing out, and moved up from claimers, and into small ungraded stakes. That went well, as did a steady diet of races on the underrated PA-bred circuit which culminated in him winning the $100.000 Lyman Stakes. After that, it was time to take another step, and the gelding was entered into the Grade 3 Aristides, and he would wire the field, a field in which he was six pounds heavier then half the runners. He’s shown he is good on short rest, with makes it appealing that he is back at it after three weeks from this start. This horse is trending the right way, I’d be inclined to pick him if he wasn’t starting from this post.