2023 San Felipe Stakes at a Glance

Racing in the SoCal sunshine at Santa Anita Park. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

Touting past winners such as Affirmed and Sunday Silence to more recently California Chrome and Authentic, the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park has proved time and again a key steppingstone on the path to the Kentucky Derby.

Saturday’s edition of the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe drew a field of 11 to compete in the Grade 2 stakes that will award 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve qualifying points to the top five finishers in descending order.

The San Felipe, held around two turns, drew five entrants from the barn of Tim Yakteen, including four 3-year-olds recently shifted from Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert to Yakteen by the Feb. 28 deadline in order to be eligible for Kentucky Derby qualifying points: National Treasure, Hejazi, Fort Bragg, and Mr Fisk.

Let’s take a closer look at the cast for this year’s San Felipe:

san felipe stakes

Racetrack: Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, Calif.

Date: March 4

Purse: $400,000

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Race: 6

Post Time: 5:30 p.m. ET

Notable winners: Life Is Good (2021), Authentic (2020), California Chrome (2014), Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Medaglia d’Oro (2002), Point Given (2001), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), Artax (1998), Bertrando (1992), Sunday Silence (1989), Affirmed (1978), Hill Rise (1964), and Determine (1954).

First held: 1935

1. Chase the Chaos (12-1 morning-line odds): The Pennsylvania-bred El Camino Real Derby winner enters the San Felipe as a wild card. He’s excelled on the synthetic Tapeta Footings surface at Golden Gate Fields and boasts proven stakes class, but his lone previous start on a dirt main track came in his career debut in August 2022 when second at Canterbury Downs in a race moved off the turf to a muddy main track. Not sure he’s fast enough, so given the surface question looking elsewhere.

JOCKEY: Armando Ayuso; TRAINER: Ed Moger Jr.

2. National Treasure (3-1): He’s one of the aforementioned Yakteen five and one of the four that recently came over from Baffert’s barn. Looked like he might have needed a race in his season debut when third in the Sham Stakes. Expecting an improved effort here from the third-place finisher in 2022 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by TAA, but prefer others on top.

JOCKEY: John Velazquez; TRAINER: Tim Yakteen

3. Practical Move (4-1): Practical Joke colt pulled a 10.60-1 upset for Yakteen in winning the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 17, 2022, and he looked like he appreciated the extra distance in winning that race by 3 ¼ lengths. Has been training well and looks like a legit win candidate.

JOCKEY: Ramon Vazquez; TRAINER: Tim Yakteen                                               

4. Bluegrass Go Go (50-1): It seems like Doug O’Neill-trained 3-year-olds that look overmatched on paper consistently outrun their odds, but other than that it’s tough to make a compelling case for this colt. He’s winless in three starts and stretching out around two turns for the first time.

JOCKEY: Edwin Maldonado; TRAINER: Doug O'Neill

5. Genius Jimmy (20-1): He enters the San Felipe off an impressive front-running three-length maiden win at 1 1/8 miles in his fourth career start. Problem is, that race was on the grass and this Jimmy Creed colt was beaten by 16 ¾ lengths in his lone previous try on the dirt back in his career debut in October 2022. No harm in taking a shot on the Derby trail but difficult to imagine Genius Jimmy winning.

JOCKEY: Kazushi Kimura; TRAINER: Michael McCarthy

6. Crypto Ride (SCRATCHED): He has competed in races restricted to California-breds in five of six starts and has only a maiden claiming victory to show for it. Hard to envision him acing this massive class test.

JOCKEY: Umberto Rispoli; TRAINER: Craig Lewis

7. Hejazi (7-2): Very fast 3-year-old but the substance has not yet quite lived up to the speed figures. A $3.55 million auction purchase, he earned his first win in his fourth race Jan. 15 at Santa Anita Park in a 6 ½-furlong sprint after running in the top three in each of his first three races. Soundly beaten by Cave Rock in his lone previous try around two turns in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes, but pedigree suggests he should absolutely handle 1 1/16 miles.

JOCKEY: Mike Smith; TRAINER: Tim Yakteen

8. Geaux Rocket Ride (5-1): He was a dominant front-running winner in his career debut Jan. 29 in a three-quarter-mile sprint that earned eye-catching speed figures for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. This is a tough spot here for his second start, but Mandella is among the best to ever saddled a racehorse so if he has confidence if this Candy Ride colt, expect him to run well.

JOCKEY: Flavien Prat; TRAINER: Richard Mandella

9. Fort Bragg (8-1): Seems to have formed a habit of finding trouble in his races. Disqualified for interference after finishing first (ahead of San Felipe entrant Practical Move) in his second career start, he then held off eventual Sham Stakes winner Reincarnate in his third race despite a rough start. Stakes debut in Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity was a bit disappointing after more early trouble, but no denying he has finished ahead of some quality 3-year-olds.

JOCKEY: Juan Hernandez; TRAINER: Tim Yakteen

10. Skinner (5-1): Looked outstanding in winning a one-mile maiden race Feb. 12 at Santa Anita Park by 3 ¼ lengths from off the pace and speed figures supported that it was a quality win. Tried stakes competition twice as a 2-year-old and was beaten by 9 ½ lengths in the Runhappy Del Mar Futurity and 28 ½ lengths in the American Pharoah Stakes. Sometimes the lightbulb goes on for young racehorses with time and experience. If that is the case with Skinner he’s a viable win candidate, but I’m admittedly skeptical of the quality of the competition from his recent win.

JOCKEY: Victor Espinoza; TRAINER: John Shirreffs

11. Mr Fisk (15-1): Finished second by three-quarters of a length to Reincarnate in his final start at 2, a race that was flattered when his vanquisher won the Sham Stakes Jan. 8. In between, Mr Fisk outfinished next-out winner Harlocap to win a one-mile maiden race Jan. 2. An intriguing longshot candidate hurt by a tough outside post.

JOCKEY: Frankie Dettori; TRAINER: Tim Yakteen

THE PICK: Geaux Rocket Ride


SUPERFECTA: 8-7-2-11 

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