Kobe's Back and Papa Turf bring top credentials into Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 San Vicente at Santa Anita, a seven-furlong test that has drawn a field of six three-year-olds.
Kobe's Back is the lone stakes winner, capturing the Willard Proctor Memorial at first asking last summer, and the John Sadler-trained colt posted a runner-up to eventual champion Shared Belief when making his second start in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue. The gray son of Flatter clipped heels and lost all chance when concluding his juvenile season with a 10th in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity and he could appreciate the cutback in trip Sunday. Joel Rosario will be in for the mount.
Papa Turf has a recency edge over his rival, finishing second in the January 20 San Pedro to the well-regarded Indianapolis, who was forced to miss a planned start in the San Vicente due to a cough. Trained by James Kasparoff, Papa Turf is the most experienced member of the field with five starts to his credit, including a maiden victory at Santa Anita last fall, and the Yes It's True colt will retain the services of Joe Talamo.
Cherubim showed little when making his career debut on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track but really took to the Santa Anita main track in his second outing, scoring by 3 ¼ lengths on December 28. He's been flattered by runner-up Chelios and third-placer Pimpernel, who have both broken their maiden in commendable fashion since then, and Cherubim must be considered a threat for trainer Simon Callaghan in his stakes bow.
"Horses have been coming out of that race winning," Callaghan said. "We're really excited [about running in the San Vicente]."
Regular rider Mike Smith has the call on Cherubim.
Roger Rocket will jump straight to stakes company for Bob Baffert following a head triumph in his career debut on January 18. Corey Nakatani rides. Grazen's Hope, who is unbeaten from two career outings at Golden Gate Fields, invades Southern California for Steven Miyadi.
Rprettyboyfloyd is winless from two starts, posting a pair of runner-up finishes, and he's cross-entered to a maiden special weight on Saturday. However, the Denise Breuer charge rates an interesting darkhorse if his connections opt for the San Vicente. After finishing 3 ¼ lengths back of Bayern in his first start, the ridgling missed by only a half-length to the highly-touted Chelios on January 26.