While Flightline’s stakes debut in the Malibu (G1) is a major storyline for Santa Anita’s opening day, the $200,000 San Antonio (G2) features Hot Rod Charlie, and on the undercard, Beholder’s first foal, Q B One, makes his long-awaited premiere in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden.
Maiden Special Weight – Race 4 (3:30 p.m. ET)
Q B One, a three-year-old by Uncle Mo, has been brought along in typically patient fashion by Richard Mandella. The Spendthrift Farm homebred was an early nominee to the Triple Crown, but ended up needing more time. After returning to the worktab in late September, Q B One has been drilling regularly. Kyle Frey will ride from post 4 in a seven-horse field.
Bob Baffert sends out two of his debuting rivals – fellow Uncle Mo colt Shaaz, the $1.1 million sales topper at Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic two-year-old sale in 2020, and $900,000 Keeneland September yearling Hopkins. Shaaz is better drawn in post 6 with John Velazquez, while the Quality Road colt Hopkins landed on the rail with Juan Hernandez.
Also set for his unveiling is Elector, a son of Constitution from the John Sadler barn. The entrants with racing experience are Dixie’s Two Stents and Soy Tapatio, both representing Doug O’Neill, and the Brian Koriner-trained Patron d’Oro who has not raced since April.
San Antonio (G2) – Race 6 (4:30 p.m. ET)
Most recently fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Hot Rod Charlie is reportedly using the San Antonio as his launching pad to the Dubai Carnival. O’Neill is mapping out a path to the Mar. 26 Dubai World Cup (G1) for the battle-tested sophomore, who earned a deserved Grade 1 laurel in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). The half-brother to champion Mitole earlier placed in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont (G1), and finished first in the Haskell (G1) before being demoted for interference. Hot Rod Charlie looms as the one to beat with regular rider Flavien Prat.
Multiple Grade 2 hero Express Train, who was ruled out of the Breeders’ Cup, returns to the 1 1/16-mile distance of his last win in the San Diego H. (G2). Often beaten going farther, the John Shirreffs trainee exits a third in the Awesome Again (G1).
Kiss Today Goodbye, a 15-1 upsetter in last year’s San Antonio, warmed up by splitting Baffert’s duo of Azul Coast and Eight Rings when second in his Nov. 20 Native Diver (G3) comeback.
Eight Rings, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) two back, hasn’t won a stakes since the 2019 American Pharoah (G1). But he missed narrowly in this summer’s Bing Crosby (G1), and Baffert opts to take the blinkers off here. Velazquez reunites with Eight Rings for the first time since his front-running allowance score over this track and trip Oct. 2.
Extra Hope, the 2020 Native Diver winner and San Antonio sixth, returned with a fading sixth in the Nov. 27 Berkeley H. (G3) at Golden Gate Fields. Reddam Racing’s homebred Go On, Hot Rod Charlie’s stablemate from the O’Neill barn, needs to improve to factor in his stakes bow.