News and STORIES

Midcourt, Roadster Face Off In San Pasqual

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Saturday February 01, 2020
Midcourt is set to face off against Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster and eight other rivals in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. The 5-year-old son of Midnight Lute has been worrying some supporters. 

In the Dec. 28 San Antonio Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita, he created several of his own problems. As the field entered the first of two turns, he advanced on them. He was carried wide when the others drifted out. 

However, Midcourt did not let the problems completely defeat him. He kept a steady pace and moved forward to finish third, beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Gift Box and 3 3/4 lengths by runner-up King Abner, who is also entered in the San Pasqual.

"Horses weren't closing that day, but he did make a good run, so we were happy with that," trainer John Shirreffs said. "With this horse, just getting away from the gate well is important. He needs to get into stride, and when he does, he's much more comfortable."

The problem of wide trips is somewhat normal for the slow-breaking Midcourt. The only time that did not happen was when he won the Nov. 23 Native Diver Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. He broke well in that race and scored a 5 3/4-length victory under Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza.

He also narrowly won the Oct. 27 Comma to the Top Stakes at Santa Anita while running wide. Midcourt has taken four of eight races and has earnings of $22,695 for owner C R K Stable. He has been trained by Shirreffs in the last six of those races. 

Roadster Set To Challenge

In the Native Diver, San Pasqual competitors Two Thirty Five and Roadster finished far behind in third and fourth, respectively. Two Thirty Five has not raced since, but Roadster finished second behind the recently retired Omaha Beach in the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes (G1) Dec. 28 at Santa Anita. 

"He was sick the next day. He was just flat," trainer Bob Baffert said of Roadster in the Native Diver. "He ran a good second to Omaha Beach, but it was too short for him."

Midcourt and Speedway Stable's Roadster have both won at the 1 1/8-mile San Pasqual distance. Midcourt's experience came from the Native Diver and Roadster's from the Santa Anita Derby, beating the 2-year-old champion of 2018, Game Winner.

Joal Rosario will be the jockey for Roadster, and they will break from the rail.

Prep For Santa Anita Handicap

Roadster will remain in California while stablemates McKinzie and Mucho Gusto are set to go to the Middle East this winter and spring.
The San Pasqual is a prep race for the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at 1 1/4 miles. 

Baffert has won the San Pasqual a record five times, starting back in 1999 with Silver Charm. His most recent victory was with Hoppertunity in 2015. Shirreffs took the race in 2010 with Neko Bay.

Midcourt is the 3-1 favorite on the morning line, while Roadster is the 7-2 second choice. Other San Pasqual contenders include Restrainedvengence and King Abner, who both are at odds of 4-1.

Instagrand and Combatant are also set to run, both having participated in Grade 1 races as 3-year-olds. Instagrand finished third behind Roadster and Game Winner last year in the Santa Anita Derby. 

Combatant, a 5-year-old, finished far back in 18th in the 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and he finished fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) with trainer Steve Asmussen for owners Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing. 

Combatant was purchased for $220,000 at the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale by bloodstock agent David Ingordo from the Gainesway consignment. He now races for owner Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler.