(Trainer Bob Baffert / Coady Photography)

From the Santa Anita Media Team:

MEDINA SPPIRIT JOINS LIFE IS GOOD IN SAN FELIPE

Bob Baffert will double-team his opposition with varsity Triple Crown contenders Life Is Good and Medina Spirit in next Saturday’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes, a major steppingstone to the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on April 3.

“Life Is Good will work tomorrow and Medina Spirit worked today,” said the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer, who seeks to add to his record seven San Felipe victories.

Game neck winner in a three-horse photo of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Jan. 30, Medina Spirit went six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.20, fastest of 11 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:12.89.

“He worked well and if he comes out of it in good order, the plan is to run in the San Felipe,” Baffert said. “I’ll run two in there.”

Baffert’s previous San Felipe wins were recorded by Prime Timber (1999), Point Given (2001), Preachinatthebar (2004), Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Dortmund (2015), Mastery (2017) and Authentic last year.

Hall of Fame member John Velazquez, who piloted Authentic to victory in the Kentucky Derby en route to 2020 Horse of the Year honors, will ride Medina Spirit for the first time, while Mike Smith retains the mount on undefeated Sham Stakes winner Life Is Good.

Baffert also is considering Mastering for the Santa Anita Handicap next Saturday. The son of Street Sense would be making his stakes debut in the Big ‘Cap, which Baffert has won on five occasions, with General Challenge (2000), Misremembered (2010) and three times with Game On Dude (2011,2013, 2014).

 

CAN TIZAMAGICIAN MYSTIFY BIG ‘CAP FOES?

          With five stakes worth $1.4 million, two of them Grade I’s, Santa Anita presents its most appealing and lucrative program of the meet next Saturday.

Richard Mandella could be a major player.

The Hall of Fame trainer has Tizamagician for the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap for four-year-olds and up at a mile and a quarter; possibly United for the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf for four-year-olds and up; and Extra Hope for the Grade II San Carlos Stakes for four-year-olds and up at seven furlongs.

Also on the blockbuster card will be the Grade II San Felipe Stakes for Triple Crown candidates at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 China Doll for three-year-old fillies at a mile on turf.

Tizamagician, a speedy four-year-old Tiznow colt, was second in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes last out on Jan. 30 and will be seeking his first stakes victory in the Big ‘Cap. He will be ridden for the fifth straight race by Drayden Van Dyke.

Mandella hopes to capture his fourth Santa Anita Handicap triumph, having won in the past with Siphon (1997), Malek (1998) and Rock Hard Ten (2005).

United’s last 11 races have all been graded stakes at distances from 1 1/8 miles to a mile and a half, including a second by a head at 51-1 to 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Mandella added that rather than the Kilroe, United could instead go in the Grade III San Luis Rey Stakes at 1 ½ miles on March 20. “United is very sharp; awfully good right now,” he said.

United worked seven furlongs this morning in 1:25.80.

The Kilroe would be United’s first race since last Nov. 7 when the six-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland.

Extra Hope, whose last five races have been at a mile or longer, will cut back to seven furlongs in the Grade II San Carlos with Van Dyke in the irons.

 

PACE MAKES THE RACE IN TIZNOW STAKES

          Margot’s Boy, a versatile son of Clubhouse Ride, returns to the main track in Sunday’s $100,000 Tiznow Stakes after a disappointing ninth-place showing in the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic at 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 16.

Depending on how strategy plays out in the Tiznow, the four-year-old gelding could win his first stakes race.

“It’s hard to say,” offered Craig Lewis, who trains the bay for owner/breeder Alfred Pais. “The horse is more comfortable near the lead but it looks like a lot of speed in there, so it’s hard to say if there’s going to be a meltdown or what.”

Margot’s Boy won his first three starts in 2020, each at a mile on grass, then was third by a scant half-length in the Snow Chief Stakes in June of last year. Overall, he has a 3-3-1 record from 13 races, earning $187,996.

In those 13 races, he has gone postward at double-digit odds only once, that in the 2020 Del Mar Derby when he finished second by a head at 12-1.

“We’ll hope for the best,” said a cautious but cogent Lewis.

Juan Hernandez, who rode Margot’s Boy in his last two races, retains the mount. Hernandez is three wins away from a career milestone of 1,000 victories.

The Tiznow is named for the only back-to-back winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic who was Horse of the Year in 2000.

A California-bred son of Cee’s Tizzy owned by Cees Stable LLC and trained by Jay Robbins who retired in April of 2013, Tiznow defeated Giant’s Causeway by a neck in the 2000 Classic at Churchill Downs and Sakhee by a nose at Belmont Park in his final race a year later.

Each time he was ridden by Hall of Fame great Chris McCarron, who piloted the determined bay horse in 10 straight races, winning six.

Two other Hall of Fame members enjoyed victories on Tiznow, Alex Solis in his 8 ½-length maiden triumph in May of 2000 at Hollywood Park, and Victor Espinoza in the Grade III Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood that July.

Tiznow compiled career earnings of $6,427,830, not too shabby even by today’s inflated standards.

The field for the Tiznow, race eight of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Desmond Doss, (4-1) Abel Cedillo; Margot’s Boy, (5-1) Juan Hernandez; Brandothebartender, (3-1) Umberto Rispoli; Surfing Star, (4-1) Edwin Maldonado; and last year’s Tiznow winner, Fashionably Fast, (6-5) Tiago Pereira.