04/01/2010 12:00AM

Baffert sends trio in Potrero Grande


ARCADIA, Calif. - Ventana's consistency this year, and the absence of two key rivals, may give the 4-year-old colt his first stakes win in Saturday's $150,000 Potrero Grande Handicap at Santa Anita.

The Grade 2 Potrero Grande will be Ventana's fourth start of the meeting. He won an allowance race in December, finished second to Kinsale King in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap in January, and was second to Bob Black Jack in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap in February.

Kinsale King won the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai last week, while Bob Black Jack suffered an injury following his win in the San Carlos. Neither starts in the Potrero Grande.

The Potrero Grande will be the ninth stakes appearance of Ventana's career. Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman and trained by Bob Baffert - the same team behind Santa Anita Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky - Ventana has won 2 of 13 starts and $166,517.

Baffert has three runners in the Potrero Grande, including Sangaree and E Z's Gentlemen.

Owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable, Sangaree won the Joe Hernandez Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on March 7, the same distance as the Potrero Grande. The Hernandez was originally scheduled for turf but was moved to the synthetic main track because of wet weather.

E Z's Gentlemen won a first-condition optional claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs on March 6, closing from just off the pace. The victory ended an eight-race losing streak.

The Potrero Grande drew a field of nine. Ventana is the only horse to have run in the Palos Verdes and San Carlos who is starting in the Potrero Grande.

Rush With Thunder makes his first start since finishing second in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park last July. Trainer A.C. Avila is taking a cautious approach to Saturday's race.

"I'd say he's 70 or 80 percent," Avila said. "If he hits the board, it will be good."

Avila said the Potrero Grande is a prep for the $125,000 Tiznow Stakes for statebreds on April 24.

The field is likely to be chasing Eaton's Gift, who was seventh in the Palos Verdes. Trained by Mike Mitchell, Eaton's Gift won the Grade 2 Smile Sprint at Calder last July when trained by Dale Romans. Gato Go Win, the sharp winner of an optional claimer Jan. 30, will be near the front.