A trio of recent graded stakes winners, Gormley, Mastery and Iliad all figure prominently among a field of seven sophomores in Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth. A key steppingstone to the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8, the San Felipe, which will be contested for the 80th time, has produced five winners that have gone on to victory in the Kentucky Derby: California Chrome in 2014, Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, Sunday Silence in 1989, Affirmed in 1978 and Determine in 1954.
Long regarded as one of America’s most important Derby preps, the San Felipe holds a total of 85 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, to be distributed on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the first, second, third and fourth place finishers.
GORMLEY: A three length winner of the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Frontrunner Stakes in only his second start here on Oct. 1, he was subsequently well beaten in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5, but bounced back with a gutty head victory in the Grade III, one mile Sham Stakes over a sloppy track on Jan. 7. A Kentucky-bred colt by Malibu Moon, Gormley has won three out of his four starts and has been on or just off the lead in all three wins, including a first-out maiden score at 6 ½ furlongs on Sept. 4. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, trained by John Shirreffs and ridden by Victor Espinoza, Gormley will vie for top billing in the tote with Mastery.
MASTERY: Unbeaten in three starts for Bob Baffert, this Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride has been idle since taking the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 10. Like Gormley, Mastery, who tried two turns for the first time on Dec. 10, likes to run on the lead. Odds-on in all three starts, Mastery, who is owned by Cheyenne Stables, LLC, will be ridden for the third time in a row by Mike Smith, who took last year’s San Felipe with Danzing Candy.
ILIAD: A bay ridgling by Ghostzapper, he comes off a 3 ½ length win going seven furlongs in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 12, which was his first start for trainer Doug O’Neill. Owned by Kaleem Shah, he made his first two starts with Bob Baffert, breaking his maiden going six furlongs on Dec. 18 at Los Alamitos. Although both Gormley and Mastery have an abundance of early lick, Iliad could be on the early San Felipe lead, as he’s trying two turns for the first time in what will be his fourth career start. He be ridden by Flavien Prat, who was aboard for the San Vicente win.
THE GRADE II SAN FELIPE STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 5 of 11 Approximate post time 2:30 p.m PT
- Term of Art—Tyler Baze—122
- Vending Machine—Norberto Arroyo, Jr.—120
- Ann Arbor Eddie—Mario Gutierrez—120
- Mastery—Mike Smith—124
- Gormley—Victor Espinoza—122
- Iliad—Flavien Prat—120
- Bluegrass Envy—Jacob Radosevich—120