The weights for the $750,000 Santa Anita H. (G1) were announced Saturday evening, one week in advance of the Big ‘Cap, and it was no surprise that superstar Arrogate was assigned the top impost of 126 pounds. Fellow Bob Baffert trainee Hoppertunity came next on the list at 123.
But with both Arrogate and Hoppertunity passing in favor of the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1), Saturday’s Big ‘Cap starting highweights will carry just 122 pounds – Shaman Ghost and Midnight Storm.
Shaman Ghost ships in from Florida on Tuesday for Jimmy Jerkens. The winner of Canada’s iconic Queen’s Plate during his Sovereign Award campaign in 2015, he added the Woodward (G1) and Brooklyn (G2) to his resume last season. Hopefully this trip westward turns out better than his venture for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), when he had to scratch with a fever. Shaman Ghost was last seen finishing best of the rest behind Arrogate in the January 28 Pegasus World Cup (G1).
“Most of the time, it’s pretty fast and speed favoring out there (at Santa Anita),” Jerkens said, “but I like the way my horse ran in the Pegasus. He usually breaks very well. In the Pegasus, he was up with the top flight, in front of California Chrome, into the first turn and then they ran away from him a little down the backside.
“I think they’ll have to go fast early and if they come back, a mile and quarter is a great distance for my horse. If any horse fits the distance, it should be him.”
Javier Castellano, aboard for the Woodward as well as his third in the Clark H. (G1), makes the trek from Gulfstream to regain the mount.
“Javier is thrilled to be riding this horse,” his agent, Mike Lakow, said. “He won the (2004) Breeders’ Cup Classic with his sire, Ghostzapper, who was also owned by Mr. Stronach, so it would be nice to win the Big ‘Cap with Shaman Ghost.”
Midnight Storm gained fame on turf, scoring his signature win in last summer’s Shoemaker Mile (G1), but has successfully switched to dirt of late for Phil D’Amato. The son of Pioneerof the Nile romped in the Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar and most recently in the January 1 San Pasqual (G2) over this track. But the step up to 1 1/4 miles is a question.
According to Santa Anita publicity, three of the 119-pound assignees are expected to line up: Grade 1 soldier Hard Aces, fifth in the San Antonio (G2) behind Hoppertunity in his latest; Grade 2 veteran Imperative, who outdueled Stanford in the Poseidon on the Pegasus undercard; and last-out San Marcos (G2) winner Isotherm, unplaced in his two prior dirt tries.
Two other probables are going turf-to-dirt off the San Marcos – Argentine celebrity Hi Happy, rounding into form with a fourth, and seventh-placer Twentytwentyvision. They’re pegged at 116 pounds, along with recent allowance winner Follow Me Crev. Getting in with just 115 pounds is lightly raced Gangster, who would be making his stakes debut on the big stage.
Here is the complete list of weights: