Forbidden Kingdom passed his first-two test Saturday in emphatic style with a wire-to-wire, 5 3/4-length triumph in the $401,000 San Felipe S. (G2) at Santa Anita.
Favored at even-money in the field of seven three-year-olds, Forbidden Kingdom outsprinted Armagnac to the lead entering the clubhouse turn, was up three lengths down the backside and refused to stop, even after rattling off early fractions of :22.66, :45.90, and 1:10. 46.
“I was anxious to see this race and see if he would get two turns. He looked even better,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “I was a little nervous when I saw the 45 on the board for the first half. He just did what he likes to do.”
Up seven lengths on the far turn and in upper stretch, Forbidden Kingdom’s margin was whittled down only slightly in the final yards.
“I let him have fun,” winning jockey Juan Hernandez said.
Owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm, Forbidden Kingdom returned $4 after covering 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:43.98. Second choice Doppelganger finished second, 4 3/4 lengths ahead of 26-1 longshot Happy Jack. Beautiful Art finished fourth at 37-1 and was followed by Cabo Spirit, Armagnac, and Worse Read Sanchez.
Forbidden Kingdom earned 50 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points for the victory, tantamount to securing a place in the field for the May 7 classic. Mandella said Forbidden Kingdom would have his final prep in the April 9 Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Doppelganger was ineligible for Derby points as trainer Bob Baffert is currently suspending from racing at Churchill Downs. Happy Jack earned 10 points and Beautiful Art accrued five points.
This was the second consecutive stakes win for Forbidden Kingdom, who captured the Jan. 29 San Vicente (G2) over seven furlongs by 2 1/4 lengths. He won one of three starts at two, placing in the Speakeasy S. and Bob Hope (G3) following a debut win at Del Mar in August.
Bred by Springhouse Farm in Kentucky and sold for $300,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Select yearling sale, Forbidden Kingdom is by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and out of Grade 3 heroine Just Louise, a Five Star Day half-sister to Grade 2 winner Sara Louise.