Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes Analysis, Santa Anita Park – 3/16/13

The Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes will be contested on the turf going twelve furlongs Saturday at Santa Anita Park. A competitive field of nine is scheduled to enter the starting gate. You should be able to eliminate a few contenders immediately, simply because of the distance of this race.

Interaction is likely to go off as the post time favorite. Coming off a game second in his first start off of a two month layoff, Interaction came from out of the clouds to only lose to the front running Slim Shadey by a length. He’s likely to take a step forward off of that performance, which is a scary thought for the rest of the field. Even if he runs back to his last race, he’s got a big shot in this spot.

The aforementioned Slim Shadey won the Grade II San Marcos last month over this Santa Anita turf course. Trained by Simon Callaghan, the five-year old gelding has put together a nice resume over his career. As nice as he is, I think he’s a “need the lead” type of horse to have any chance at winning, and I don’t think he’ll be on the front end in this race. Another negative for him, in my estimation, is the distance at which this race will be run. Slim Shadey’s ideal distance is a mile and a quarter, and I think the mile and a half of the San Luis Rey is going to be too much for him to handle. He’ll be competitive, but I don’t love him in this spot.

Bourbon Bay has proven over his career that long distance races are his preference, which makes him dangerous in a race like this. However, it’s hard for me to get too excited about a seven-year old that will be running in his first race in more than three months. I’d imagine he’ll take some money and be relatively close to his morning line of 7/2, maybe float up to 4/1 or 5/1, but I think Bourbon Bay is going to need a race to really get his legs back underneath him.

Before I had mentioned that I didn’t think Slim Shadey was going to be able to get to the lead, and that’s because I think my selection, Bright Thought, is going to wire the field and win the San Luis Rey Stakes. There are plenty of question marks around Bright Thought, such as the distance and the jump in class. However, I think his upside and potential is what is more important in this situation. The two times he’s run on turf in his career, he’s run phenomenally, destroying lesser competition each time. He’ll be getting the “acid test” today as he faces graded stakes competition for the first time, but I believe he’s got what it takes to get the job done. I like Bright Thought to go gate to wire in the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita.

SELECTION: 7 – Bright Thought, Victor Espinoza; ML 7-2

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