If there’s anything close to a sure thing on today’s 10-race card during closing day at Santa Anita, it’s Bourbon Bay in the $150,000 Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap. He’s a short 6-5 favorite on the morning line.
Bourbon Bay, trained by Neil Drysdale, will be trying to become only the third horse and first since Kotashaan in 1993 to sweep the meet’s three marathon stakes on turf — the San Luis Obispo, the San Luis Rey and the San Juan. The first two are 1 1/2-mile races, and the San Juan starts up on the hill and is about 1 3/4 miles in distance.
In 1974, grass specialist Astray swept the three-race series, though the San Luis Obispo was split into two divisions that year.
Bourbon Bay, a 4-year-old gelded son of Sligo Bay, won the San Luis Obispo by 4 1/4 lengths and the San Luis Rey by 2 1/2 after beginning the meeting with a 3 1/2-length victory in an optional claimer at 1 1/2 miles over the grass on Jan. 6.
Overall, he’s won 4 of 11 on the lawn with two seconds and two thirds for earnings of $287,424. He’s 3 for 3 on the turf at Santa Anita.
The only horse I can see giving Bourbon Bay a run for his money is the Mike Mitchell-trained Tap It Light, who is coming off a three-quarter length victory in the Grade 3 Tokoy City Handicap at 1 1/2 miles over the turf on March 27. Tyler Baze retains the mount.
Stalingrad, a 6-year-old gelding trained by James Cassidy, has won 4 of 9 on the turf and has the back class to give the top two a battle, but his best races in graded stakes were more than a year ago at Saratoga and Belmont Park over soft turf courses. David Flores will ride.
Rafael Bejarano, the runaway winner of his third consecutive Santa Anita riding title, will climb aboard Bourbon Bay for the third consecutive race. It would be fitting if he ended the meet with a victory in the San Juan Capistrano.