02/05/2015 3:35PM

Finnegans Wake likely to be noticed in San Marcos Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Finnegans Wake (right) wins the San Gabriel on Jan. 3 at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Finnegans Wake was 7-2 when he won the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles at Del Mar in November. He was 8-1 when he scored a minor upset in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf on Jan. 3. Bettors may finally catch on and make Finnegans Wake the favorite when the 6-year-old runs in Saturday’s $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita.

“He doesn’t get respect on the board,” trainer Peter Miller said on Thursday. “He does it all. He fires every time.”

Owned by Donegal Racing and Rockingham Ranch, Finnegans Wake drew the rail in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf. The distance should not be an issue. What is of greater importance to Miller and his clients is for jockey Victor Espinoza to guide Finnegans Wake from his customary position off the pace through the field of nine.

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KEY CONTENDERS

Finnegans Wake (Last 3 Beyers: 101-99-96)

◗ Finnegans Wake was 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf here in November, finishing 5 1/4 lengths behind eventual Main Sequence. In his last two wins, he has closed from as far back as seventh in the last three furlongs.

◗ In the San Gabriel Stakes, Finnegans Wake closed nearly four lengths to win by a length. The victory surprised Miller.

“I didn’t know if he could get up going that short,” Miller said. “He’s got a good turn of foot, and that served him well.”

◗ Finnegans Wake was trained by Dale Romans until late summer when he was transferred to Miller. Finnegans Wake has won 5 of 26 career starts, with all five wins on turf. Miller said a start in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on dirt will be considered after the San Marcos.

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Patrioticandproud (Last 3 Beyers: 99-99-86)

◗ Patrioticandproud was second to Finnegans Wake in the Hollywood Turf Cup and San Gabriel Stakes.

◗ Trained by Mark Casse, Patrioticandproud is winless in nine stakes since the Toronto Cup at Woodbine in July 2012. Casse said the 6-year-old gelding is not to be underestimated.

“He’s run two good races,” Casse said. “I don’t think you can throw him by the wayside.”

Dynamic Sky (Last 3 Beyers: 96-102-99)

◗ Dynamic Sky, who won the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct in November, was sixth, beaten two lengths, in the San Gabriel after racing in traffic in the stretch.

“He had nowhere to go for a while,” Casse said. “He gets more ground this time.”

Majestic Harbor (Last 3 Beyers: 75-91-95)

◗ Majestic Harbor won the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita last June, but lost four starts from August through to early January when he was eighth in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes. The San Marcos will be Majestic Harbor’s first start on turf since a third in an optional claimer in August 2012, and the first time the 7-year-old will be ridden by Mike Smith.

◗ Trainer Sean McCarthy said the distance of the San Marcos has significant appeal over a start in Saturday’s $500,000 San Antonio Stakes against champions California Chrome and Shared Belief.

“We’ve got the distance,” McCarthy said. “I’m not going against two champions. It’s different competition.”