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Mar 11, 2011

Graded earnings on the line in Saturday's San Felipe

By: by Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A solid bunch of three-year-olds are scheduled to meet this Saturday in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes. The Grade Two $250,000 event features impressive maiden winners Runflatout and Albergatti, along with stakes winners Comma to the Top, Jaycito, Bench Points, and Premier Pegasus.

The much-heralded Runflatout recorded a 96 Beyer in winning his debut at Santa Anita on Jan. 29. It was the same figure Dialed In received for his victory in the Holy Bull. Runflatout blazed six-furlongs in an incredible 1:07 3/5, but he lugged in slightly through the stretch showing a bit of greenness, something that must be altered in his second career start. He also will have a new rider as Joel Rosario replaces Garrett Gomez, who'll pilot Albergatti.

The huge jump from a one-turn maiden sprint to a two-turn stakes race is a major hurdle that he might not overcome. Nevertheless, trainer John Sadler has been working his colt accordingly, going seven-furlongs on Feb. 28 in 1:24 2/5 and a blistering 1:10 2/5 six-furlong bullet work this past Monday. There have been a ton of amazing three-year-old sprinters this winter and Runflatout will be the first of them to try a distance of ground. If he is successful, a trip to the Santa Anita Derby will surely follow.

Albergatti is another notable maiden winner although it took him two tries to find the winner's circle. The son of Unbridled's Song finished second to Da Ruler in his debut but rebounded in his next start to defeat Chico d'Oro by 1 1/2-lengths and Purely Awesome by 10 while running seven-furlongs in a brisk 1:20 3/5.

Both Albergatti and Runflatout like to race near the lead so unless one (or both) of them try to rate on Saturday, the expected fast fractions might knock the two horses out of contention.

Premier Pegasus is another speedy colt but at least he has shown ability to rate off the lead as he did against The Factor and City Cool in the San Vicente. He got within a half-length of The Factor approaching the top of the stretch and held on gamely for third while finishing the seven-furlongs in 1:21.

The son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus might be caught in a tough spot having to chase the early speed and then hold off the closers. Still, the 1 1/16-mile distance should be within his reach, and for a horse that doesn't work particularly fast, the 57 3/5 five-furlong Mar. 5 workout shows he's raring to go.

Comma to the Top returns to the races after a disappointing fourth-place finish (at 1-2 odds) in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. This will be the gelding's 12th career start (with six victories) but his first on conventional dirt. Unfortunately for his connections, he might not be good enough to tackle these quality horses.

Saturday will be the day for trainer Tim Yakteen to see what he has in Bench Points. The California-bred is undefeated in four lifetime starts but three of those races came in state-bred events. The fourth was the one that brought a lot of attention to the gelding when he knocked off 1-5 Da Ruler in a last-to- first effort on Feb. 11.

Bench Points was knocked around at the start by Hollywood Heist and still came on to win going away, while running a 12 second final eighth of a mile. He should absolutely adore the added distance and an expected quick early pace will certainly help his chances. On the negative side, this is a massive step up in class even though he is more experienced than most of his opponents.

Jaycito is the most accomplished horse in the race (outside of Comma to the Top) as he sports a Grade One victory on his mantle. In the Norfolk Stakes last fall, he raced four-wide the entire 1 1/16-miles and took down J P's Gusto by a length. His subsequent start did not go over too well as he missed the first turn, which put him close to 25 lengths behind the leader after the first half-mile. Still, he only missed the third spot by a little more than five lengths.

Since then, he's switched from Mike Mitchell's barn to Bob Baffert's with nine workouts under his belt. The four-month layoff will be a factor so look for Jaycito to run well but come up a little short through the stretch.

Selections: 1) Bench Points; 2) Premier Pegasus; 3) Jaycito

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