There will be a quartet of open stakes offerings on the Friday and Saturday undercards of this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
The lone event of the kind Friday, the $200,000 Marathon at 1 3/4 miles, opens the 10-race program. Campaign, who’s won the 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City (G3) and Cougar II H. (G3) on the Southern California circuit, was made the 4-5 morning line favorite.
Itsinthepost, a multiple graded stakes winner on the turf, is the logical second choice having run second to Campaign in the Cougar II two starts back. The field also features American Tattoo, a Group 1 winner in Argentina and multiple allowance scorer for Todd Pletcher since his importation.
The $100,000 Damascus on Saturday, for three-year-olds and up at seven furlongs, attracted only five entries, but they include Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster, who adds blinkers in his comeback from a layoff of more than five months. The Bob Baffert trainee finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and second in the Affirmed (G3) in his last two starts.
His primary challenger might be Flagstaff, a sharp third behind Omaha Beach and Shancelot in his stakes debut, the October 5 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1).
The most lucrative of the Saturday undercard features is the $200,000 Twilight Derby for three-year-olds at nine furlongs on the turf. Belmont Derby (G1) winner Henley’s Joy ships west after a recent fourth to Neptune’s Storm in the Hill Prince (G3), with the Del Mar Derby (G2) top two of Nolde and Originaire also in the fray.
Grade 3 winner Kingly could be a threat to lead all the way after narrowly missing in the City of Hope Mile (G2) against older rivals. Gray Magician has displayed competitive graded form on the main track, but could be up against it in his first try on the grass.
Saturday’s card opens with the $100,000 Senator Ken Maddy, a 5 1/2-furlong turf dash for fillies and mares. Kentucky shipper Girls Know Best could wind up here if she fails to get into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) off the also-eligible list later in the card. The ultra-consistent Just Grazed Me also bears watching off a course-and-distance score in the $100,000 California Distaff against state-breds.