Photo by Benoit Photo.
Several horses bred in the mid-Atlantic region and nominated to the Triple Crown series later this spring were in action this weekend, and none emerged with a win.
Perhaps the leading region-bred in Crown contention, Mor Spirit, tackled Grade 2 rivals in the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Ridden by Gary Stevens, Mor Spirit, a Pennsylvania-bred, appeared to get a bit rank around the clubhouse turn, but settled readily down the backside when next to last going past the half mile pole. With a cue from Stevens, he picked it up between horses around the far turn, rallied well, while within himself for second money and galloped out on terms with the winner past the wire.
“He was super sharp. As I was coming into the lane, I knew I wasn’t going to catch the winner, but I knew we had to get some (Kentucky Derby) points,” Stevens explained in a release. “I like where we’re sitting for the Santa Anita Derby. I lost a battle today, but I like our position. Bob (Baffert) was happy, so I’m happy…He’ll settle a little better for me in the Santa Anita Derby.”
Mor Spirit, as well as winner Danzing Candy and show horse Exaggerator, is headed to California’s top Triple Crown prep, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, on April 9.
Mor Spirit was the lukewarm 8-5 favorite in the six-horse field, with Exaggerator the second choice at 2.20-1.
Back on the East Coast, bettors made Maryland-bred Charmed Victory the 3-2 favorite in the $75,000 Private Terms Stakes. Maryland’s last Triple Crown prep, the Federico Tesio Stakes, will be April 16, also at Laurel Park.
On a weekend when route races seemed to play to speed, Charmed Victory found himself in a tough spot: dawdling in sixth place (of six) after a quarter-mile with Abiding Star all by himself on the lead. That proved a toxic combo for Charmed Victory, a Rodney Jenkins trainee, who ended up fifth, beaten by over 12 lengths, while Abiding Star cruised to a 1 1/2 length win in 1:46.61 for 1 1/16 miles.
At Oaklawn, two Midlantic-breds faced off in an allowance contest. But Maryland-bred Southside Warrior and Pennsylvania-bred Bird of Trey ended up seventh and eighth, respectively.
For more on the region’s Triple Crown trail, visit our Triple Crown Trail page.