Santin © Benoit Photo
Millionaire Santin, a well-bred colt who ships in from Kentucky to try his luck in the Grade II, $250,000 Seabiscuit Handicap Saturday, looms as the one to beat in the nine-horse lineup for the Thanksgiving weekend headliner.
And while the son of Distorted Humor figures strongly in the mile and one-sixteenth turf test, it appears a long way away from a walkover.
Santin ran previously at Del Mar last year as a 3-year-old and missed in a photo to a handy colt named Beyond Brilliant, who he’ll have to face again Saturday. Also in the hunt is another millionaire, the speedy 5-year-old horse Smooth Like Strait. Then, just to make the stew extra spicy, we’ve got a pair of last-out stakes winners in Masteroffoxhounds and Hong Kong Harry, as well as another stakes-winning Kentucky shipper in Set Piece.
All in all it adds up to one of the most competitive and interesting races Del Mar fans are likely to see this fall.
Here’s the full field for the dandy stakes from the rail out with riders and morning line odds: Godolphin’s Santin, Umberto Rispoli in the tack, 3-1; Rockingham Ranch’s Masteroffoxhounds (Mike Smith, 12-1); Anastasi, Ukegawa or Valazza’s Hong Kong Harry (Flavien Prat, 7/2); Cannon Thoroughbreds’ Smooth Like Strait (John Velazquez, 4-1); C R K Stable’s Beyond Brilliant (Victor Espinoza, 4-1); Supreme Racing or Rockingham Ranch’s Lincoln Hawk (Joe Bravo, 20-1); Pozo de Luna’s Irideo (Hector Berrios, 10-1); Juddmonte’s Set Piece (Juan Hernandez, 5-1), and BBN Racing’s Kentucky Ghost (Ramon Vazques, 20-1).
Santin has a bankroll that reads $1,449,600. Among his four victories is the Grade I Arlington Million, run this year at a special meet at Churchill Downs on August 13. The bay also captured the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill on May 7, Kentucky Derby Day. He’s trained by veteran Brendan Walsh.
Beyond Brilliant is a triple stakes winner who has earned $726,780 under the care of conditioner John Shirreffs. His most recent tally was the Grade II City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita on October 1.
Smooth Like Strait rarely runs a bad race and has 19 in-the-money finishes in 23 outings, good for $1,795,573 in winnings. The quick son of former sprint champion Midnight Lute knows only one way to go – to the front – and no doubt will be the one they’ll all have to catch Saturday. He’s trained by Mike McCarthy.
Masteroffoxhounds is a last-out winner, having captured the John Henry Turf Cup at Santa Anita on October 1. His stablemate, Hong Kong Harry, also is a last-out winner, proving best in the Del Mar Mile on September 3. Both horses are trained by Phil D’Amato.
Set Piece was shipped west by top trainer Brad Cox. The 6-year-old Dansili gelding is an 11-time winner who sports a bankroll of $919,573.
Seabiscuit, of course, was one of America’s great racehorses. He took part in a famed match race at Del Mar in 1938 that helped put the fledging track on the map. It also was the forerunner of his eastern match race with Triple Crown winner War Admiral. “The Biscuit” won them both.
First post Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. for the nine-race card.