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Pioneerof the Nile faces small field at Santa Anita

San Felipe Stakes will be his last major prep for the Santa Anita Derby.

March 14, 2009|Eric Sondheimer

The West Coast's top Kentucky Derby contender, Pioneerof the Nile, will run in his final major prep before next month's Santa Anita Derby in today's $200,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita.

It's one of four Grade II races for 3-year-olds around the country, less than two months before the May 2 Kentucky Derby.

Pioneerof the Nile, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Garrett Gomez, will be heavily favored in the small field of seven that could be reduced by late scratches.

It will be race No. 4 on a 10-race card that includes the Grade I $300,000 Santa Margarita Handicap at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares.

Life Is Sweet is seeking her third consecutive stakes win in the Santa Margarita and will also be ridden by Gomez. Trained by John Shirreffs, Life Is Sweet is a royally bred 4-year-old daughter of Storm Cat. She'll face competition from Santa Teresita, who won the Grade I Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 14.

Gomez has won 15 stakes at the Santa Anita meeting, four short of tying Laffit Pincay Jr. and Corey Nakatani for most in a single Santa Anita campaign.

General admission for today's races is $1, as are programs, beer, hot dogs, popcorn and soft drinks.

-- Eric Sondheimer

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