Red King stepped up in last year’s $100,000 San Juan Capistrano (G3), registering his first stakes win with a 4 1/4-length decision, and the seven-year-old horse will make a title defense in the 1 3/4-mile turf affair on Saturday.
The San Juan Capistrano is the featured event on an 11-race penultimate program of the Santa Anita winter/spring meet that includes four stakes.
Trained by Phil D’Amato, Red King went on to add the Del Mar H. (G2) to his ledger last season, but the chestnut will be trying to snap a four-race losing skein, finishing third most recently in May 29 Charles Whittingham (G2). He will make his third start of the year with regular rider Umberto Rispoli.
Top rivals in the six-horse field include Acclimate and Ward ‘n Jerry.
D’Amato-trained Acclimate counts the 2019 San Juan Capistrano among his two stakes wins, and the five-time stakes-placed veteran exits a head second in the Whittingham. Ricardo Gonzalez will be up on the front-running seven-year-old gelding.
Grade 3 scorer Ward ‘n Jerry dropped down to starter allowance competition to record a pair of confidence-building wins in his last two outings, including a victory last out over Red King. Mike Puype has freshened the eight-year-old gelding 91 days in advance of this test, and Flavien Prat guides the stalker.
Astronaut, Lure Him In, and Pillar Mountain complete the field.