Analysis of the San Rafael Stakes

The second major graded stakes for 3-year-olds looking to blaze the Kentucky Derby trail is this weekend at Santa Anita.

The $100,000 San Rafael has been won by the likes of A.P. Indy, Tabasco Cat and Brother Derek in years past. This year, Square Eddie looms the largest and is the one to beat.

For more analysis on the race watch That Handicapping Show, where I break down the race with co-hosts Tom LaMarra and professional handicapper, The Wizard. Also, courtesy of, here is a link to the Ultimate PPs for the race.


(1) The Pamplemousse - Was impressive when breaking maiden by 2 3/4 last out while going 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood. Has also thrown in three good works since then. Trainer Julio Canani is 5-1-2 from 10 starters at the current meet. Big step up here for this son of Kafwain, but may be in line for a piece of the money.

(2) Fiddlers Afleet - Second to Asmussen's Derby hopeful Haynesfield in Dec. 7 Damon Runyen Stakes at Aqueduct, but was beaten five lengths. He did earn a 101 Bris speed number for that effort, but has just one win in seven starts so far. Trainer change from Tom Bush to John O'Hara too. Pass.

(3) Brother Keith - Owner Ken Ramsey has been touting this horse since he was a young 2-year-old. Broke his maiden by three at Churchill in November and was sent to California with Bobby Frankel. The thinking there is that he is a son of 2003 BC Turf winner Johar and will take to the Pro-Ride. His Jan. 10 move (five furlongs in :59-flat) seems to have confirmed that. This is only his second start and will be coming back after more than nine weeks off; both concerns. But if the connections are right, he's an improving colt with legit Derby talent. Gets Garrett Gomez for the first time too. I give him a decent chance to upset Square Eddie and will use in all my tickets.

(4) Ryehill Dreamer - Makes U.S. debut after two wins in five turf starts in Europe. John Shirreffs takes over training. Turned in a sharp four-furlong move Jan. 13. Makes first non-turf start and hasn't started since August. Won't know what kind of talent he has until we see him. May be worth using underneath.

(5) Papa Clem - Broke maiden while going gate-to-wire last out at Santa Anita at the same distance, but had everything his own way with slow fractions. Seems to really enjoy the course, as he also has turned in three bullet works at Santa Anita this winter. Bejarano leaves for Square Eddie and Tyler Baze gets back on. Should be a big price if you want to take a chance.

(6) Square Eddie - Has to be on everyone's top 10 early Derby favorites list based on huge Breeders' Futurity performance and good, runner-up effort in BC Juvenile. A big run here might vault him to the top of the list. Certainly the class of this field. Major question mark is that he hasn't raced since Oct. 25, but O'Neill is usually good with horses coming off the shelf. Will probably be odds-on, so no real value. But if he's on his game, he's the winner. The pick.

(7) Charlie's Moment - Third to Chocolate Candy in Real Quiet Stakes. Was close to the pace in that one, but has shown ability to come from off it, which may be the way to go here with lots of early speed. Had a good run on this surface two starts back when getting nosed in a stakes test. Also graded stakes placed when taking third in grade II Best Pal back in August. May be a good horse to consider for exotics.

(8) Feisty Suances - Won an allowance by nearly six lengths at Santa Anita back in October while going a mile. Has looked good while facing Cal-bred company in last two, but this is a big step. Has shown good early speed and should be a pace factor. Hasn't done much wrong but may be in over his head.

The Pick: No point of playing win ticket on Square Eddie since price will be too low. I think trifectas are the way to go in this one. I'll play a $5 trifecta with (6) Square Eddie over (1) The Pamplemousse, (3) Brother Keith, (5) Ryehill Dreamer and (7) Charlie's Moment. It's a $60 ticket.

Who do you like?


Leave a Comment:

Chris Taylor

I am going to tri key square eddie,brother keith with square ddie,brother keith,the pamplemousse,fiddlers afleet with the square eddie,the pAmplemousse,fiddlers afleet,and brother keith.I think it 12 or 18 dollar bet.Oaklawn AMERICAN BEAUTY I AM GOING WITH MINEWANDER AND SUPERIOR STORM IN AND EXACTA

16 Jan 2009 2:37 PM

I think the way to play it is to be the pick 3.  A straight pick 3.  Alpha Kitten-Square Eddie-Madeo for 20 bucks or something like that and cash in with the favorite.  Then play a 1 dollar wider pick 3 just in case the big one doesn't hit, and include Ryehill Dreamer and the Pamplemousse and maybe Papa Clem.

16 Jan 2009 2:38 PM

After the success of  European Turf horses at last year BC. I going with Ryhill Dreamer for the Win.

16 Jan 2009 2:44 PM

Jason, Obviously Square Eddie is the one to beat but I'm very intrigued with Sheriffs horse. Away since August is certainly a big question but his Euro form shows he has been with equal, if not better, company than Square Eddie when he was over the pond and has a shot to upset. He is definitely worth a play on top and a sure use in the exotics. It would seem both the Ramsey and Canani horses are a use in the Tri. Best of Luck

16 Jan 2009 2:51 PM
Majella from Ireland

I like Brother Keith. I haven't heard of Rhyhill Dreamer, but I'm pretty sure hes by the Coolmore stallion Catcher in the Rye. But I'm not 100 percent sure.

16 Jan 2009 3:06 PM

deffffff square eddie!  i love him! a derby pick of mine ttoo!=] good luck S.E.!

16 Jan 2009 3:28 PM
Jason Shandler

Majella: Correct, he is by Catcher in The Rye.

To those of you who like him here, I am intrigued as well but the layoff concerns me. That is a long layoff to come back from and win a race against good company. Unless he's Big Brown, I am doubtful he'll get top spot here.

16 Jan 2009 3:59 PM
Abbie Knowles

As a big fan of the beautiful and brave Johar it has got to be Brother Keith for me!

God Bless

Best Wishes


16 Jan 2009 8:34 PM

The San Rafael has produced only six Santa Anita Derby winners since 1990...I'm a little worried about its down grade to a Grade III and its move from March to January. I'm looking forward to the San Felipe.  Sheriffs is always interesting.  Did Giacomo run in the San Rafael?

16 Jan 2009 9:16 PM

In 1990 Mister Friskey went 15 for 15 winning the San Rafael.  No one could touch him in the San Felipe, and later Santa Anita Derby.  He left some good ones (Tight Spot and Land Rush) in his wake.  History has kind of written off this one.

16 Jan 2009 9:38 PM

Waht about Not on the Same Page with that 115 beyer.  Where is he?

16 Jan 2009 10:01 PM
Derby Mass

#1 Pamplemousse was mentioned by a Santa Anita private clocker to be finally figuring it out.

#3 Brother Keith is highly regarded in maiden win and is nicely bred.

#4 Ryehill Dreamer making a move very similar to Square Eddie, but he did even better in Europe.

#6 Square Eddie is another Smart Strike colt, and he left Doug O'Neil almost speachless. Wow!!

#8 is cross-entered in Cal-Derby

Looks tough to beat Square Eddie here. Looks to be a single in Late Pick 4.

16 Jan 2009 10:05 PM

Brother Keith could be something special

16 Jan 2009 10:48 PM

I am going to key ryehill dreamer on my tickets. I feel square eddie can win but I will play a tri with ryehill dreamer with square eddie, pamplemousse, brother keith and fiddler's afleet runnung late. that is my tri with the same for my exactas.

17 Jan 2009 12:46 AM
m palmer

There is something interesting about Feisty Suances. His last work for the race was a 6F in a slow 1:15 plus on turf. Base on the PPs he is the fastest horse in the race and I dear say an unknown quantity although his record reads 4 Starts: 3 - 1 - 0, $78,820. He is a genuine 45 - 46 half mile horse that can steal the race if allowed to set moderate early fractions. As good as Square Eddie is , he has never followed a 46 half mile pace. and the SA track appears to be speed favoring which suits Feisty Suances.

We must be reminded that Feisty Suances' sire Suances, was the Champion 3-year-old colt in France in 1999. He is by a Good and Tough mare which may account for his speed. Good and Toug his by speed influencing Carson City. Carson City was dam sire of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. His second dam is by the In Reality stallion Believe It who was the dam sire of 1998 Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet.

He is therefore my long shot for the race. Why did the trainer work him in a slow 6F on turf?

17 Jan 2009 5:56 AM
Action Jackson

I love Bobby Frankel with odds. If he didn't think Brother Keith was going to fire, the colt wouldn't be in this field. Also, Brother Keith's sire, Johar, was one of the very few Gone West's that could route (won at 1 1/2 miles).

17 Jan 2009 6:56 AM

I like Square Eddie and Brother Keith but no value in playing them.

  The big two 3-year-old colts, Midshipman and Vineyard Haven are in Dubai. When will they learn you cannot win the Kentucky Derby from Dubai?  

17 Jan 2009 8:45 AM

 Tri key Square Eddie on top with Pamplemousse, Ryehill, Brother Keith.

17 Jan 2009 9:31 AM

Square Eddie is certainly the favorite here. I am looking forward to seeing how Brother Keith runs as he may turn out to be a very good one.

Jason, what's with the comment on Ryhill Dreamer? Winning off a long layoff against good company unless he's Big Brown. Big Brown didn't beat anyone that amounted to much his entire career. His derby win that some people say was a great win was run in an extremely average time against nobody. Even well known experts like Steve Davidowitz question the Rag Figs on that one. Time to let Big Brown fade off into the sunset.

17 Jan 2009 10:19 AM

I like Brother Keith who is out of a Lear Fan broodmare, Windsharp, she made over 1.29 million in her career.His sire Johar is currently one of my favorite sire's who definitely preferred to go a distance during his career.  Then I'll take the Smart Strike colt, Square Eddie to place. Charlie's Moment, by Indian Charlie, is my show pick.  That will be my $5 Tri.  

17 Jan 2009 10:27 AM

Square Eddie would be the obvious choice based on his last two runs but he wasn't anywhere near the top of the tree in England before he shipped out.  I'd be happy to field against him for two reasons, I think he may need to run at 8 furlongs plus to show his best work but the real reason I'm not keen on him is BROTHER KEITH.

I firmly believe that Johar will make the grade as a sire and my understanding is that Frankel is very high on this horse.  He will also be a whole lot better over a route but I think it's interesting that he begins his KT Derby prep. here.  He is a very interesting contender.

17 Jan 2009 10:39 AM
Jason Shandler

The_Wiz: The Big Brown comment was because he raced in August as 2-year-old and was off for about 6 months before winning his next race - an allowance at Gulf. It was a layoff comparison. It takes a special 3-year-old to come off that kind of layoff and win next out, in my opinion.

17 Jan 2009 11:24 AM
Frank J.

Jason, can we please stop with the Big Brown references?? He wasn't that good ok we all found that out and I honestly think noone wants to hear his name besides Draynay. You dont hear anyone bringing up Smarty anymore who was much a better horse and way more respected.

17 Jan 2009 1:01 PM
Jason Shandler

Frank J. - You need to open your eyes. I wasnt a fan of Big Brown either, but to say "he wasn't that good" is absurd. He won seven of eight starts and his Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness were 3 of the best performances you will ever see by a 3-year-old. Stop hatin'.

17 Jan 2009 1:43 PM

Does anyone know what Fitzaslew's status is? Just curious what/ how he is doing.

Brother Keith and Square Eddie one-two in some order.

17 Jan 2009 2:01 PM

San Raf picks  $10 4-6-3-1

17 Jan 2009 3:12 PM

Kinda new here so please excuse me.  Did anyone remember hearing that Big Brown was acting up quite a bit in the detention barn before the Belmont?  Could he have possibly been dehydrated before the race?  That's my take on it.

17 Jan 2009 3:18 PM

Square Eddie looks to win this, but odds not playable chalk more likely, Brother Keith could win, this sired by Johar(BC Turf)but this is not Turf mostlikely a work out still playable for place and show.. Long shot play to take this San Rafael with Fiddlers Afleet.. remember Afleet Alex?

17 Jan 2009 3:22 PM

I thought I could spend 2009 talking about the great Vineyard Haven but every time I think I am out they draw me back in. Jason thank you for telling it like it is. I am getting tired of people like Frank J and the wiz talking nonsense.  For the last time people get over it.  Big Brown was a great horse and accomplished more than most and gave us performances to always remember. How many horses in the last 30 years have won the Kentucky

Derby undefeated?  How many Derby winners in the last 30 years have won the Haskell ?  Even the great Secretariat could not win his next race after the Triple Crown races... Big Brown did. Smarty did not even race after Belmont.  We all know Big Brown had tender feet he was good enough to win from off the pace or on the pace or in the lead.  He won with style and ease and lost only one race he was not allowed to finish.  Everyone saw that he got stepped on coming out out of the gate.  The picture of his shoe hanging off is well documented.  Bad luck in racing sometimes occurs but Big Brown was a brilliant horse and for some of you to suggest any different makes you sound lame.  Get off Big Brown maybe when you see how average this group of 3 year olds are you will learn to appreciate the greatness of Big Brown and everything he did last year.

17 Jan 2009 7:40 PM

No excuse to look so average.  I am scratching Square Eddie from my list.  He will have to take to dirt like a fish to water for me to consider.  I am still waiting for ANY horse to look half as good as VH.

17 Jan 2009 7:42 PM

The Pamplemousse looks like the real deal based on his fractions (sub 45 for the half)  Speed over a distance of ground is always hard to beat. Feisty Suances gave up the lead with an eigth to go in the California Derby.  Hollendorfer's Chocolate Candy may have to be added to the Derby mix based on his Cal Derby and Cash Call Futuruty-Gr I performances.

17 Jan 2009 9:22 PM

Think of all the air and words that will be wasted talking about a California horse winning the Derby. Save the energy for the electric grid.

17 Jan 2009 10:05 PM

Draynay said:

Even the great Secretariat could not win his next race after the Triple Crown races...

Dray, check your facts. Secretariat's start after the Belmont was three weeks later, in the Arlington Invitational, 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at Arlington Park.  He won by 9 lengths, running the distance in 1:47 flat, missing the track record by a fifth of a second.

18 Jan 2009 12:51 AM

The Pamplemousse flew under my radar, but after his win I think he's one to watch.  It seems we have quite a class of three year olds this time around.

18 Jan 2009 7:27 AM

Pamplemousse is hardly anything to watch until he does something on dirt. Getting loose alone on the lead and winning proves little and the fraction were just ok.  Vineyard Haven was posting those fractions 3 months ago as a 2 year old on DIRT.

18 Jan 2009 9:03 AM

BB was a beautiful horse but Big Brown's best race of 109 was only 3 points higher than Curlin's worst 4th place finish of 106.

Big Brown never came close to equaling a track or race record.

He does not deserve to be in the same sentence, no story, as Secretariat, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Cigar, Spectacular Bid, Personal Ensign, Citation, Man O'War, any triple crown winner, or truly great horse etc and barely belongs in the same league as a Curlin, Smarty Jones, or Barbaro.

Potential is NOT the same as accomplishment, yes he was the 3-yr old of 2008 triple crown series, but even there he did not come close to a record time, etc...his ability to peak in 3 races was extraordinary...against that crop.

Curlin equaling the Preakness record in a wicked stretch duel in his 5th start was far more impressive.

18 Jan 2009 9:55 AM

I would not throw out Square Eddie yet.  After an 83 day layoff the trainer was looking for a "tune up."  Look for him to take a step forward in the San Felipe/Santa Anita Derby.  Let's hope all campaining over the questionalble Santa Anita surface stay healthy.

18 Jan 2009 1:30 PM

It would have been nice to see The Pamplemousse pushed a little through the fractions...Brother Keith went right instead of left on the turn.  

18 Jan 2009 1:44 PM

Dray, in any other case i would harly call 45.67 seconds for the half mile OK, but the SA surface produced wicked times. During the BC we saw records falling, being tied, or being very close to being eclipsed, when on dirt or any other synthetic surface, wouldn't happen. For that reason im not convince of the Pamplemousse.

    I actually think SE will like the dirt better than he does synthetics. It seems that like Curlin he didn't take to the turf, and so far he's one for three on synthetics. His loss in the SF may have been due to the layoff, plus the fact that the winner got loose on the lead with no pressure at all. I am not scratching Eddie off my list right yet, and if he wins on dirt against a good field then he deserves respect. As of now he's still second on my list, with Old Fashion taking the top.

18 Jan 2009 2:57 PM
Fire Slam

Not worried about The Pap. Sure speed is dangerous over a lot of ground, that will be his down fall the first Saturday in May. By then, there will be other quality horses, who can carry early speed.

Square Eddie closed well, considering the layoff. Cant wait to see him on an actual dirt track, which is what these animals should be racing on.

18 Jan 2009 9:40 PM

I wouldn't knock The Pamplemousse so soon.  He has a very high cruising speed and inherited the lead in the San Rafael.  I think he would have even finished better had he been given a target.  If you look at the race, he seemed to have a couple of extra gears coming around the far turn and into the stretch -- first accelerating on his own when he heard SE coming at him, and then again in the stretch when the jockey asked him. He reminds me of another real fighter with a high cruising speed -- Silver Charm. I also remember reading or hearing that he's the type who looks like he'll run better on dirt.  Sure hope we get to see that! ... and I sure loved the way SE galloped out past the wire.  Would be hard to take either off my top 10 list.

18 Jan 2009 11:32 PM

Cleone and da3hoss,

Thank you for telling it like it is. I'm getting tired of people like draynay talking nonsense. For the last time get over it. Big Brown was above average but accomplished his feats against nobody. The 3 yr ols he beat in his big races were the weakest bunch in history at the time. I pray this year brings a better crop. I'm embarassed at the group of american raced 3 yr olds of last year. Thank god Big Brown ducked the Breeders Cup where he would have finished no better than 5th and probably worse. At least the Derby winner saved us that embarassment.

19 Jan 2009 8:27 AM

If this is really for Triple Crown talk lets talk about horses that have ACTUALLY started as 3 yr olds this year.

I agree with Householder and LDP, don't throw out Square Eddie yet. He's showed up every time at the highest level and been competitive.

19 Jan 2009 10:04 AM

 All the california horses need to get their hooves on a dirt track or kiss them goodbye for the Derby just like Col. John last year. Dirt is the real deal unless you have a turf horse.

19 Jan 2009 10:08 AM

I can't believe draynay is still trying to convince people that what Big Brown accomplished made him a world beater. Get over it nay nay, someone had to win the Derby and Preakness last year. He faced nobody in the Derby (lmao the 2nd place finisher ran a 2:02.8,the 3rd 2:03.6, and the fourth a 2:04.2). His 2:01.8 was nothing spectacular. Forget the 20 hole, it was a blessing because it kept him away from any trouble, all he had to do was outrun the weakest group of 3 yr olds to come to a Derby in history and with a clean trip it was easy. It's history, the Big Ole Browneye is history, let him go. He faced nothing his entire career and ducked any chance to face Curlin when offered.

19 Jan 2009 10:54 AM
The Rock


On the contrary, I think the 45 n change is very legit. In the 3rd race, a MSPW race, they ran the half in 48 n change, so in no way was the track playing fast at all. As a matter of fact, the first two finishers in that race ran 2-3 to "The Pamp" last time out and the 2nd place finisher was at least 5 clear of the 3rd horse. The Pamp is legit and versatile as well. I was taken back by the way he closed first time out after getting completely left. He disappointed somewhat second out but since then he's come around nicely. I have my doubts about him getting the derby distance, but he'll make his presence felt in the preps leading up to it. With that big stride of his, if he's kept in the clear, he'll be alright. In tight quarters in the derby is another story. But I'm getting way ahead of myself, but he should be recognized. He was tied for the top last race beyer with SE (89).

19 Jan 2009 12:34 PM

Fitzaslew will be back in the mix very soon. He sustained a minor injury before or during the cradle stakes.

19 Jan 2009 4:39 PM
Turbo Turf

Dear Quality Street, Fitzaslew is fine and in training at Gulfstream Park. Stay tuned.  

19 Jan 2009 5:50 PM

LDP ... like I said the fractions were uncontested and not bad but remember VH ran the same fractions months ago as a 2 year old and did it while being pressed with ease beating G1 competition with ease.

If someone doesn't take a giant leap forward in the next 45 days I will be betting it all on VH to win.  Now that I have him winning the Derby and Preakness... can he get the 1 1/2 at Belmont ?

19 Jan 2009 6:21 PM

It really frustrates me when I see a very impressive win on pro-ride and never get to see the horse run on dirt before the KD.  Why doesn't Julio Canani take The Pamplemousse directly to dirt in his next race?  In his post-race interview, he implied he did not have Derby fever and would not take aggressive steps with this horse to get him there. Are you kidding me?

19 Jan 2009 9:01 PM

Come on The Wiz!  Pay some respect to Magical Forest and Nestle's Crunch.  

19 Jan 2009 10:51 PM

I would keep the first 3 finishers of the San Rafael.  Ryehill Dreamer's tank was a little empty after not starting since Aug. but I liked his move on the turn.  Plus we are still trying to weed through the late running sprinters from the "classic distance" horses at the San Rafael distance of a mile.  Throw Chocolate Candy, Sid and Jenny Craig's homebred (Candy Ride set the track record at Del Mar at 1 1/4 in the Pacific Classic and on his mother's side has tripple crown winners), and it should make for a good Spring in CA. Look for all 4 to start in the Santa Anita Derby.  By then we will know if the Pap can carry his speed and I don't think Hollendorfer was interested in backing up Chocolate Candy to a mile after success at routing. (side note...Chocolate Candy did beat the speed of the SR field that day by blasting by Feisty Suances who was double entered in both the SR and Cal Derby).

20 Jan 2009 2:50 PM

No disrespect people but, HELLO it's 2009. New bunch of 3 yr olds and the BB talk was done to death last year.

Come'n lets talk about the ones that are running now please!

20 Jan 2009 3:15 PM

Rock, if i remember correctly the track on BC day played extremely fast, and normally it does anyhow. Durin the BC you saw for youself how many records fell, and how many were only fractions away from falling. Before i go hail the Pamp i want to see if he can carry that same speed on dirt and hang, and i doubt he'll be able to.


    I actually was agreeing with you on the fractions because i believe the track at SA plays fast, even when they exersised Curlin over it they said it was a fast track, allowing horses to skim over it and go faster than normal. I think if the Pamp were to try those fractions on a dirt track he'd fade badly. Also with VH, i will agree he's very talented, but i don't think he's going to be Dubai's miracle horse by winning the Derby. In my oppinion you'd need to bring back Man o War from the dead.

21 Jan 2009 5:51 PM

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