From a strict probability perspective, trainers Bob Baffert and John Sadler have a combined two-in-three chance of winning Saturday’s $200,000 Palos Verdes (G2) at Santa Anita. Bettors, however, will likely deem their chances much higher as they saddle four of the six entrants in the 6-furlong dash, won the past two seasons by multiple champion Roy H.
Sadler conditions morning-line favorite Flagstaff, third to Omaha Beach in his stakes debut in last October’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) before eking out a nose victory over the Baffert-trained Roadster in the Damascus S. on Breeders’ Cup weekend.
Baffert’s duo, both pegged at 5-2, include stakes newcomer Speed Pass, who is 2-for-2 after a pair of wins at Los Alamitos, and stakes winner Ax Man, who’s run below expectations in previous graded attempts.
“This is a step up, but he’s a nice horse,” said Baffert of Speed Pass. “If he runs well here, I might take him to the Middle East,” referring to the Mar. 28 Golden Shaheen (G1) at Meydan.
Sadler’s second entry is St. Joe Bay, the 2017 Palos Verdes winner who’s been out of action since last March, when he won the San Carlos (G2) by three lengths.
Peter Miller, who trained Roy H., sends out multiple allowance victor Captain Scotty, who returns to the main track after weakening to fifth in the Joe Hernandez (G2) on the grass. The relative outsider is California-bred Grinning Tiger.