February 20, 2024

Collected preps in San Antonio for Gun Runner rematch

Collected will seek his fifth stakes victory in 2017 © BENOIT PHOTO

Collected brings high speed and lots of class to Tuesday’s $300,000 San Antonio (G2) at Santa Anita. His four-race win streak came to an end in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) but the 4-year-old colt performed admirably finishing second to Gun Runner, equaling a career-best 111 BRIS Speed rating.

Gun Runner and Classic third-placer West Coast will train up to the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park January 27, but Collected is using the 1 1/16-mile San Antonio as a tune-up for the world’s richest race. The Bob Baffert trainee looks tough to catch as the probable odds-on favorite among six rivals.

By City Zip, Collected pocketed a trio of stakes wins at age 3 but has really come on this year. He returned from a near 10-month layoff with a facile victory in the Santana Mile in early April and continued to impress in the Californian (G2) three weeks later. The chestnut began to draw serious attention when recording a 14-length thrashing in the June 24 Precisionist (G3), improving his record at Santa Anita to four-for-four, and then knocked off Arrogate leading wire-to-wire in the Pacific Classic (G1).

His BRIS Speed ratings (106-111-110-111) tower over the opposition and Mike Smith takes over the reins.

Baffert will also send out Hoppertunity. The classy 6-year-old veteran will seek his third consecutive win in the San Antonio, which used to serve as more of a Dubai World Cup (G1) prep in early February, and the six-time graded scorer has earned more than $4.3 million. However, Hoppertunity has dropped five of his last six starts and a runner-up finish is a more realistic goal here. Flavien Prat rides.

Accelerate was going good during the summer, recording an 8 1/2-length upset in the San Diego (G2), but the 4-year-old colt will need to rebound following a dull ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Javier Castellano picks up the mount for John Sadler.

Prime Attraction began to turn things around on turf and switched back to the main track to capture in the November 25 Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar. The Jim Cassidy trainee will be stepping up in this spot but still rates a serious contender for a top three placing with Victor Espinoza. Pat O’Brien (G2) upsetter Giant Expectations, who exits a sixth in the Dirt Mile; and stakes winner Top of the Game complete the field.

A total of four graded stakes will be offered on the opening-day program, with the $300,000 Malibu (G1) and $300,000 La Brea (G1) headlining the action.

The $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) will feature eight sophomores at a mile on turf and stakes winners Big Score and Bowies Hero rates as top contenders.