Kentucky Derby 2021 Preps: San Felipe Stakes

San Felipe Stakes: As the road to the 147th Kentucky Derby rolls along, US Racing looks back at some history of many of the prep races that now offer qualifying points to Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 1.

By Margaret Ransom

This year marks the 84th running of the San Felipe Stakes (G2), Santa Anita’s traditional prep for the winter meet’s signature sophomore event, the Santa Anita Derby (G1), which is set to be held in four weeks.

Life Is Good Horse

Life Is Good and jockey Mike Smith – Courtesy of
Benoit Photo

Named for a popular Mexican town located on the Gulf of California, the San Felipe constantly and consistently has drawn some of the best 3-year-olds whose connections have high Kentucky Derby hopes racing in the Golden State.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has saddled the winner seven times to lead all trainers: Prime Timber, 1999; Point Given, 2001; Preachinatthebar, 2004 and 2009; Pioneerof the Nile, 2015; Dortmund, 2017; Mastery, 2017; and Authentic, 2020.

Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron booted home seven winners: Advance Man, 1982; Desert Wine, 1983; Variety Road, 1986; Mi Preferido, 1988; Sea Cadet, 1991; Corby, 1993; and Artax, 1998.

The San Felipe has produced 13 Kentucky Derby winners, including six who have won both, the most recent being Authentic. Also, 12 San Felipe winners went on to win the Santa Anita Derby and three of those also won the Run for the Roses, including 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Some of the bigger names listed in the San Felipe archives include California Chrome, Pioneerof the Nile, Medaglia d’Oro, Point Given, Fusaichi Pegasus, Bertrando, Sunday Silence, Hill Rise and Determine.

The year, the San Felipe is worth $300,000 and makes a return to the stakes schedule for the second year at the Great Race Place after a one-year absence in 2019 due to issues with the Santa Anita track condition.

Two-time Triple Crown winner Baffert, who everyone with even a passing interest in horse racing knows, is loaded with talented hopefuls not just this year but every year and sends out a pair in undefeated Sham Stakes (G3) winner Life is Good and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) winner Medina Spirit.

The weather in Arcadia is expected to be mostly sunny but cool with afternoon highs reaching into the mid-60s.

What is the Post Time for the San Felipe Stakes?

The San Felipe is the day’s sixth race with an approximate post time of 2:30 p.m. PT.

The San Felipe field, by post-position, with jockeys and trainers in parentheses:

2021 San Felipe Stakes Field

1. Life Is Good, (Mike Smith, Bob Baffert)

Into Mischief—Beach Walk, by Distorted Humor


2. Dream Shake (Joel Rosario, Pete Eurton)

Twirling Candy—Even Song, by Street Cry*Ire

3. Medina Spirit (John Velazquez, Bob Baffert)

Protonico—Mongolian Changa, by Brilliant Speed

4. None Above the Law (Flavien Prat, Peter Miller)

Karakontie—Legally Blanca, by Northern Afleet

5. The Great One (Abel Cedillo, Doug O’Neill)

Nyquist—Little Ms Protocol, by El Corredor

6. Govenor’s Party (Mario Gutierrez, Daniel Franko)

Govenor Charlie—Spring Moon, by Zensational

7. Roman Centurian (Juan Hernandez, Simon Callaghan)

Empire Maker—Spare Change, by Bernardini

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.