Imagination Wins San Felipe Thriller, Leads Baffert Exacta

Imagination battles stablemate Wine Me Up to the wire | Horsephotos

The GII San Felipe S. last its headliner with the scratch of the Bob Baffert-trained Nysos (Nyquist), but Baffert still dominated the race with stablemates Imagination (Into Mischief) and Wine Me Up (Vino Rosso) running in tandem for much of the 1 1/16 miles and in lockstep down the stretch before Imagination just got his nose in front on the wire Sunday at Santa Anita.

Of his one-two finish in the San Felipe, Baffert said, “We're trying to develop these horses, so it was good for both of them. Wine Me Up ran tough. It's like watching the 49ers Super Bowl game. Unfortunately, someone has to lose, but I'm proud of them both. They both showed up. That's all you can ask for.”

Wine Me Up was fastest out of the gate and had the lead in the early strides, but Imagination, the 4-5 favorite, strode up to challenge for the lead into the first turn.

Scatify (Justify), who broke from the rail in the four-horse field found himself in tight quarters off Wine Me Up's heels with Mc Vay (Constitution) pressing him from the outside. Rattled in the right quarters, he came out into the first turn, knocking Imagination and forcing Mc Vay wide into the bend. Hector Berrios took a strong hold of Scatify down the backstretch and that colt took back to the rear of the field.

Imagination, meanwhile, had recovered his momentum and took a length advantage over his stablemate as the half went up in :47.04. Wine Me Up moved back on even turns with the favorite and the two turned for home together. Imagination looked to be getting the better of his rival in upper stretch, but Wine Me Up along the rail battled back on even terms and it was a ding-dong battle to the finish.

“He broke out and we went to the clubhouse turn the guy behind me struck into me,” said winning jockey Frankie Dettori. “My horse got frightened, and I took him back to get him wide to get him to relax and get him back into the race. He fought a great duel. He was full of heart.”

Tom Ryan of SF Racing, co-owner of the winner, admitted he wasn't sure who had won the photo finish, but he found plenty to be positive about Imagination's effort.

“That was a great race,” Ryan said. “I didn't know which way it went at the wire. It was a little bit of a messy race early on, he had to recollect himself. He kind of got scared, these are young 3-year-old colts, they are learning their craft. It is amazing you could have a 12-horse field and nothing, and in a four-horse field anything can happen.

“It's good to see him have the confidence to put it back together and not back down from a fight and get there at the wire. I think there is a lot of potential in this horse. He is just learning as he goes, and I think the farther the better. He is a classy colt, he's always shown it, he looks it and thankfully his ability matches his looks.”

A $1.05-million Keeneland September yearling, Imagination opened his career with a pair of runner-up efforts at Del Mar late last year. He graduated going one mile at Santa Anita on New Year's Day and missed by just a neck to stablemate and 'TDN Rising Star' Maymun (Frosted) in a one-mile allowance Feb. 11.


Pedigree Notes:

Spendthrift's all-conquering Into Mischief was represented by the second and third-place finishers in Saturday's GII Davona Dale S. at Gulfstream Park and his son Timberlake put himself firmly on the Kentucky Derby trail this year with a win in the GII Rebel S. last weekend.

Magical Feeling, the fourth generation of this family bred by Peter Blum, is the dam of last year's GIII Monmouth Oaks winner and GI Acorn S. third Occult (Into Mischief). She has a yearling colt by Gun Runner, but aborted a Flightline foal for this year.

The cross of Into Mischief over Empire Maker mares has resulted in 29 winners from 43 starters and now has seven stakes winners, including Saturday's G3 Burj Nahaar winner Laurel River. As noted by Alan Carasso in Sunday's TDN, the cross has also been represented by GI Kentucky Derby hero Mandaloun, the Grade II winners Occult, Center Aisle and Taraz.


Sunday, Santa Anita
DK HORSE SAN FELIPE S.-GII, $294,000, Santa Anita, 3-3, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:44.55, ft.
1–IMAGINATION, 120, c, 3, by Into Mischief
           1st Dam: Magical Feeling (GSW & GISP, $554,532), by Empire Maker
           2nd Dam: Magical Mood (GB), by Forestry
           3rd Dam: Good Mood, by Devil's Bag
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($1,050,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Dianne Bashor, Robert E. Masterson, Waves Edge Capital LLC, Catherine Donovan and Tom J. Ryan; B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-Lanfranco Dettori. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 5-2-3-0, $256,800. *1/2 to Magical (Tapit), SW, $164,550 and Exulting (Tapit), MSW, $687,370; Full to Occult, GSW & MGISP, $451,450. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus* Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Wine Me Up, 120, c, 3, Vino Rosso–Deanaallen'skitten, by Kitten's Joy. ($115,000 Wlg '21 KEENOV; $300,000 2yo '23 OBSOPN). O-Michael E. Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman; B-Kenneth L. & Sarah K. Ramsey (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $60,000.
3–Mc Vay, 120, c, 3, Constitution–Dothraki Sea, by Union Rags. 1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($1,250,000 Ylg '22 FTSAUG). O-C R K Stable LLC; B-Band of Brothers (KY); T-John A. Shirreffs. $36,000.
Margins: HD, 6 3/4, 31. Odds: 0.90, 1.70, 9.90.
Also Ran: Scatify. Scratched: Nysos.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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