Recently named 2017 champion sprinter Roy H makes his six-year-old bow on Saturday at Santa Anita Park in the $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (G2).
The More Than Ready gelding, who captured five of his six races last year capped off by the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), faces another Breeders’ Cup winner in Mongolian Saturday, who upset the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
In addition to the Sprint, Roy H also collected wins in the True North Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park, where he actually made his stakes bow, and Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) last season. The Peter Miller-trained bay’s only loss came when he ran second in the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar. Kent Desormeaux remains aboard the Kentucky-bred.
Mongolian Saturday is seeking a return to the winner’s circle here. The Enebish Ganbat-trained eight-year-old last scored in the 2016 Woodford Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, which was his first contest back stateside after going on a four-race run overseas following his Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint upset. The Any Given Saturday gelding hasn’t performed poorly, racking up placings in the Parx Dash Stakes (G3), Turf Monster Stakes (G3) and Woodford last year, but enters the Palos Verdes off a last-of-12 effort in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Flavien Prat in the saddle can only help Mongolian Saturday’s chances as he returns to the main track for the first time since a runner-up effort in the 2015 Woodford.
The $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2) attracted Mubtaahij, who could use the 1 1/8-mile affair as a prep for the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) in March.
The Bob Baffert trainee scored a 1 1/2-length victory in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) last September prior to running eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Mubtaahij began his five-year-old campaign last February at Meydan, finishing second in the Curlin Stakes, then filled the fourth spot in the Dubai World Cup one race later.
The bay son of Dubawi enters the San Pasqual off a third-placing in the Native Diver Stakes (G3), for which he earned a career-best 108 BRIS Speed rating, and keeps Drayden Van Dyke in the irons.
Also entered in the San Pasqual are multiple Grade 2 winner Accelerate, who was runner-up in this same contest last year following a third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), and Grade 3 hero Pavel, who ran third in the 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and most recently crossed under the wire in fourth in the Malibu Stakes (G1).
One race prior to the San Pasqual, Isotherm will attempt to defend his title in the $200,000 San Marcos Stakes (G2).
The Lonhro five-year-old captured last year’s edition of the 1 1/4-mile turf contest by a half-length, but was fifth in just two starts since. Isotherm also switched trainers before his most recent race and will be making only his second start for Phil D’Amato in this spot.
Itsinthepost ran second to Isotherm last year but would go on to take the San Luis Rey Stakes (G2), Elkhorn Stakes (G2) and John Henry Turf Championship (G2) before closing out his five-year-old season with a seventh-placing in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The French-bred gelding has already started, and scored, in 2018, capturing the San Gabriel Stakes (G2) on January 6 under the returning Tyler Baze.
Flamboyant, second in last year’s San Marcos and winner of the 2016 edition of the contest, will try to turn the tables on Itsinthepost after filling the runner-up spot in the San Gabriel last out. Editore was third in the San Gabriel and returns for another shot at the top two.