Dortmund continues to impress in San Felipe

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 8th, 2015

After a pair of hard-fought victories in the Los Alamitos Futurity and Robert B. Lewis, Dortmund was a more comfortable winner of Saturday’s $400,000 San Felipe. After eking out photo finishes in his last two starts, Kaleem Shah’s massive chestnut asserted himself more clearly against many of California’s best classic prospects with a 1 1/4-length score in the leading prep for the Santa Anita Derby.

Leading the whole way under Martin Garcia, through splits of :23, :46 4/5, and 1:11 1/5, Dortmund turned back a serious-looking challenge from grass performer Bolo inside the final furlong and was clear of the rallying Prospect Park at the finish in a time of 1:41 3/5 for 1 1/16 miles.

Showing a slightly new dimension by leading from flag to finish, Dortmund displayed a kind of versatility that might prove useful as he continues on the trail to Louisville. This is a colt that can win from virtually any position, although he hasn’t yet found it necessary to rally from far back. Clean breaks and his innate tactical foot have allowed him to avoid such circumstances.

Dortmund continues to emulate his sire, Big Brown, who entered the 2008 classics undefeated en route to dominating wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. However, Dortmund has already run three more times than Big Brown did at this stage of their careers, and seasoning has never been a bad thing to have going into the Kentucky Derby.

Prospect Park, making his stakes debut after winning a maiden and an allowance around two turns at Santa Anita, was a solid second in the San Felipe and looks a serious prospect going forward to the Santa Anita Derby.

Bolo, who weakened late to third, was making his dirt debut in the San Felipe after being a stakes winner on grass in the Eddie Logan December 27. He also looks worthy of staying on the Triple Crown trail, if only because he didn’t completely collapse after being turned back by Dortmund.

The disappointments of the San Felipe included Ocho Ocho Ocho, the Delta Downs Jackpot winner who lost for the first time in four outings, and the sprinters Lord Nelson and Sir Samson, one-three in the seven-furlong San Vicente last time.

The latter two are unlikely to make much impact on the Derby trail, while Ocho Ocho Ocho is sure to be given another chance considering he was entering this race off an extended layoff and encountered a little bit of trouble. However, he hasn’t quite given the impression he wants more distance despite possessing a pedigree that suggests he would enjoy it.

The star of the day, though, was Dortmund, who will continue to be California’s marquee three-year-old until someone else proves otherwise.