Exotic plays for the San Juan Capistrano on June 19

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

June 18th, 2021

Conditioner Phil D’Amato has the leading pair of contenders for Saturday’s $100,000 San Juan Capistrano S. (G3) at Santa Anita on Saturday. The about 1 3/4-mile turf marathon attracted six in total, but I have a hard time looking past the two likely favored stablemates.

#2 Red King (5-2) is the defending champ of the race and looks to be rounding into a peak effort in his third run of 2021. By English Channel, the seven-year-old took this race by 4 1/4 lengths last season and has run well while third in both tries in 2021, which includes putting in a belated rally in 10-furlong Charles Whittingham S. (G2) last time out. The chestnut is a five-time winner on the course, and he really started to hit his stride at a similar time last campaign. The stout closer will have regular rider Umberto Rispoli in the silks.

#4 Acclimate (9-5) has gone close on various occasions in recent times without breaking through, but the speedy gelding is a prime wire-to-wire contender in the field. The California-bred son of Acclamation has run some really big races at The Great Race Place, and his top performance will make him a dangerous commodity from the opening bell on Saturday. Ricardo Gonzalez will be in the irons.

I will use #6 Astronaut (8-1) as an exotics key beneath my favored top two in the field. Trained by John Shirreffs, the dark bay son of Quality Road is lightly-raced with no experience at this type of distance, but his form is very good he's bred to run long through his dam’s side. The Kentucky-bred has a lot to prove, but I trust this shedrow and will tab the improving colt for a top-three finish in his graded stakes debut. Victor Espinoza will ride.

The other trio in the cast have appeal to an extent, but with a small field signed on, I have to make a stand with some runners.

San Juan Capistrano Wagers

  • $20 trifecta 2,4 with 2,4 with 6 ($40)
  • $5 trifecta 2,4 with 6 with 2,4 ($10)