San Felipe Stakes – Santa Anita Park March 5, 2022
The San Felipe Stakes is an American Thoroughbred race held every year in Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. It is a Grade 2 race open to three-year-old horses.
The San Felipe primarily serves as the last local preparation race to the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Offering 50 qualifying points to winners, sufficient to practically guarantee a spot at the Churchill Downs starting gate.
The race is typically held in the early part of March and it takes place over the distance of one or one-sixteenth miles (8.5 furlongs) on dirt. It currently has a purse of $400,000. It is designated as an official pre-race for the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
The San Felipe Stakes honors the Los Angeles County town of San Felipe and has been run at Santa Anita since 1935 however, it wasn’t able to settle to its current form and distance until 1952.
However, the initial times were successful because Jet Pilot (sixth in 1947) and Determine (victorious 1954) were able to win the Kentucky Derby. Others like Tomy Lee (1959), Lucky Debonair (1965), Alysheba (1987), Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) along with Giacomo (2005) were the winners of the Kentucky Derby after finishing second in the San Felipe.
Triple Crown champion Affirmed (1978), Horse of the Year Sunday Silence (1989) as well as the gorgeous Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) All followed the path of Determine by winning the San Felipe/Kentucky Derby double.
The future Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner California Chrome dominated the 2014 San Felipe Stakes in a fast time of 1:40.59 just short of the record for stakes of 1:40.11 established by Consolidator in 2005. Bodemeister (2012), Dortmund (2016) along with Exaggerator (2016) as well as Exaggerator (2016) also used to use the San Felipe as an entry point to money-winning races beneath the Run for the Roses, reiterating San Felipe’s status as a crucial exam in the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
In 2021, Life Is Good broke sharply out of the gate, took a four-length lead on the backstretch, and then cruised home in the 1 1/16-mile race to win by eight lengths. The win earned the 3-year colt 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points though the connections choose to pass the Derby to focus on the end of the season and a BC Mile Championship.
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