Whether Forbidden Kingdom continues on the Triple Crown trail or perhaps goes back to focusing on one-turn races will be decided Saturday in the $400,000 San Felipe S. (G2) at Santa Anita. Either way, Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella has a budding star.
Although Forbidden Kingdom weakened after setting the pace in his first two stakes appearances, the son of American Pharoah impressively carried his speed all the way in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) last out, beating recent Saudi Derby winner Pinehurst by 2 1/4 lengths.
Unsurprisingly, trainer Bob Baffert, who has won eight San Felipes, including the last two with Authentic and Life Is Good, has entered a pair of serious contenders. However, due to his current suspension from racing at Churchill Downs, neither Doppelganger nor Armagnac are eligible to earn any of the Kentucky Derby (G1) points on offer in the 1 1/16-mile affair (50-20-10-5 to the respective top four finishers).
Doppelganger, who started the 9-10 favorite in the San Vicente, failed to challenge in an even fourth-place effort. He, too, is stretching out around two turns for the first time, while tablemate Armagnac exits a maiden win over the San Felipe distance and will be guided again by John Velazquez.
Cabo Spirit, beaten 15 lengths by Messier in a second-place finish in the Robert B. Lewis (G3), is joined by Lewis also-ran Happy Jack. The latter and the state-bred allowance-placed Worse Read Sanchez will be saddled by Doug O’Neill.
The field is rounded out by Beautiful Art, who graduated last out in a six-furlong maiden claimer in which he was offered for a $200,000 tag.