Suggestive Boy, who went to the sidelines with a splint injury last spring, returns from an 11-month absence to defend his title in the $200,000 Arcadia Stakes Feb. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
The mile turf specialist from Argentina put together back-to-back wins in the Arcadia and the Frank Kilroe Mile last year at Santa Anita for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally and owner Pozo de Luna. The 6-year-old bay horse by Easing Along has been on the worktab at Santa Anita since early December, negotiating seven furlongs in 1:27 ⅗ in his final prep for the Arcadia Jan. 23.
He draws a tough assignment for his return against nine older horses in the Arcadia, which is race 8 on Santa Anita's Saturday card with a 4 p.m. PST scheduled post. The Arcadia immediately follows the one-mile Las Virgenes for 3-year-old fillies.
Joe Talamo has the mount on Suggestive Boy, a lifetime winner of seven of 13 starts with earnings of $684,654. He breaks from post 8 with 120 pounds, three fewer than the top-weighted Vagabond Shoes and No Jet Lag.
Idle since running a close fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Nov. 2, Irish-bred Vagabond Shoes signaled his readiness by working a bullet five furlongs Jan. 28 at Santa Anita in :59 ⅗ for trainer John Sadler.
Owned by Hronis Racing, Vagabond Shoes won the Del Mar Handicap going 1 3/8 miles on turf three starts back on Aug. 24 and was then second, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, in the 1 ¼-mile John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita Sept. 29.
A 7-year-old gelding by Beat Hollow, Vagabond Shoes has four wins, two seconds and a third from 15 tries at a mile on turf. In a field that appears to have ample speed, it’s expected he’ll again be taken off the pace by regular rider Victor Espinoza.
Anthony Ramsden's No Jet Lag disappointed in his most recent try, finishing seventh in the opening-day Sir Beaufort Stakes as the 7-5 favorite, and he was sixth in the Breeders' Cup Mile before that. Trained by Simon Callaghan, the 4-year-old gelding by Johar won his first two starts in the United States following his transfer from England last summer, including Santa Anita's City of Hope a month before the Breeders' Cup. He drew the far outside post in the Arcadia and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani.
Speedy Winning Prize finished third, beaten three-quarters of a length when attempting to wire the 1 1/16-mile Citation Handicap Nov. 29 for trainer Neil Drysdale. Like Suggestive Boy, the 5-year-old son of Pure Prize was a group I winner in his native Argentina. He has won three of four starts at a mile on grass and will be reunited with Rafael Bejarano, who rode him to a mile turf win in his U.S. debut at Del Mar Aug. 22.
Red-hot trainer Tom Proctor, whose nine wins include three added-money victories at the current stand, will saddle the up-and-coming Procurement. The 4-year-old Milwaukee Brew colt will be ridden by apprentice Drayden Van Dyke, who seeks his first-ever Santa Anita stakes win. A Glen Hill Farm homebred, Procurement was second in the Sir Beaufort last time out.
Trainer Steve Asmussen will send out a sharp pair of veterans in Vinery Stables' Regally Ready and Mike McCarty’s Unbridled's Note.
Regally Ready comes off a gate-to-wire allowance win going a mile on grass Jan. 2, and retains the services of leading stakes jockey Mike Smith. A multiple graded stakes winner sprinting on turf, the 7-year-old More Than Ready gelding has four wins and two thirds from six tries on the Santa Anita lawn and has two wins from three starts at a mile on turf. Regally Ready has earnings of more than $1.3 million from an overall mark of 29-11-2-5.
A course specialist of sorts coming down Santa Anita’s 6 ½-furlong hillside layout, Unbridled’s Note comes off an impressive half length win in the Daytona Stakes over a good field Dec. 28. He will try two turns for only the third time in his career. Ridden by Nakatani in his last 10 tries, Unbridled’s Note will be handled for the first time by Kent Desormeaux in the Arcadia.
A fast-finishing third, beaten a head, in the Sir Beaufort Dec. 26, French-bred Si Sage should make his presence felt late under Martin Garcia. Trained by Darrell Vienna, Si Sage will make his fifth stateside start in the Arcadia.
Winner of the Uniformity Stakes down the hillside turf two starts back, Tom's Tribute made the lead turning for home in the Sir Beaufort and tired to finish sixth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths. Peace and Justice comes off a highly rated gate-to-wire allowance win going a mile over the course Jan. 5.