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Omega Star looking to shine in San Felipe

Joe Talamo hopes hard work pays off when he rides Omega Star in Saturday's Grade 2 San Felipe, Santa Anita's last major stepping stone to the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 6. The 23-year-old jockey will be aboard the California-bred son of Candy Ride for the first time in a race where he tackles heavyweights Flashback and Goldencents while stretching out to 1 1/16 miles.

"I've been working him and he's been working good," Talamo said of the gelding trained by John Shirreffs for owners Herman Sarkowsky and Marty Wygod. "I really didn't know too much about him before I worked him, but John's been putting him two or three lengths behind another horse.

"He said he could get rank in some of his races, like in his last two, but he's been very relaxed behind horses when I've worked him. When I ask him, he really explodes and has a nice turn of foot."

Omega Star was second to another Cal-bred entered in the San Felipe, Tiz a Minister, who rallied from 10th and last under Garrett Gomez to overtake stretch leader Omega Star and win the California Breeders' Championship at one mile on Santa Anita's wet/fast track January 26.

Talamo knows the task won't be any easier on Saturday.

"It's a pretty tough race, obviously, with Goldencents and Flashback, but this race should definitely give us a good read on Omega Star," he said. "I've watched all his replays and he's a real nice horse with a bright future. He'll get tested Saturday, that's for sure."

The San Felipe marks the first time in three career starts that Omega Star has broken from a post position other than the rail. He drew the extreme outside in a field of eight, which Talamo feels is an advantage, even going long.

"It gives me more options," he said, "because who knows what horse is going to go (for the lead)? I think (trainer) Eric Guillot's horse (Salutos Amigos) is probably the speed of the race, coming off (three) sprints, but who knows with Goldencents and Flashback?

"Those two are horses that have been pretty forwardly placed, so I'm excited. It's going to be a good race."

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