04/17/2010 11:00PM

Bourbon Bay targets stakes sweep


ARCADIA, Calif. - The plan for Bourbon Bay has gone perfectly this year - he is unbeaten in three starts over 1 1/2 miles on turf, including two stakes.

Trainer Neil Drysdale has long thought that Bourbon Bay would thrive in marathon turf races, a point proven by impressive wins in the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap in February and Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap in March.

The theory will be tested by Bourbon Bay's appearance in Sunday's $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita. The Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano will be Bourbon Bay's longest race and a chance to make Santa Anita history. Bourbon Bay could be the first horse to sweep those three races since Kotashaan in 1993.

Bourbon Bay's running style of stalking the pace gives Drysdale confidence that the 4-year-old can be effective in the San Juan Capistrano.

"I think he should be comfortable or I wouldn't be running him," he said. "He switched off pretty well, especially in the last race."

Owned by David and Jill Heerensperger, Bourbon Bay will be ridden by leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, who has been aboard for the two stakes wins this year. Drysdale is seeking his third career win in the San Juan and first since 2000 with Sunshine Street. He was third last year with Obrigado.

The San Juan is the final race at Santa Anita on Sunday, the last day of the winter-spring meeting. Hollywood Park opens its spring-summer meeting Wednesday.

The longest stakes run at Santa Anita, the San Juan drew a field of 12. By comparison, the race had just five starters last year.

Bourbon Bay is one of two 2010 stakes winners in the field, along with Tap It Light, who won the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on the synthetic main track on March 27. Other prominent starters include Romp, who was second in the San Luis Rey; Falcon Rock, the impressive winner of an optional claimer on March 6; and Stalingrad, who won an allowance race over 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 11.

Romp should thrive over the distance, trainer Kristin Mulhall said.

"I don't know if he can beat Drysdale's horse, but the longer, the better," she said. "He just keeps on going."