02/05/2017 3:22PM

Hoppertunity, St. Joe Bay may have Dubai travel plans

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Trainer Bob Baffert says he will consider Hoppertunity for the $10 million Dubai World Cup, scheduled for March 25.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The Saturday stakes winners Hoppertunity and St. Joe Bay may be headed to Dubai next month, a trip familiar to Hoppertunity but a potential career first for St. Joe Bay.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday he will consider Hoppertunity for the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse on March 25. Hoppertunity won Saturday’s $300,690 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita in his first start of the year. Last year, Hoppertunity was third to California Chrome in the Dubai World Cup.

St. Joe Bay is under consideration for the $2 million Golden Shaheen at six furlongs at Meydan on March 25 following a win in Saturday’s $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs, co-owner and trainer Peter Miller said.

Hoppertunity surpassed $4 million in career earnings with his sixth career stakes win in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes. Trained by Bob Baffert for Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, the 6-year-old Hoppertunity has been a fixture in the Baffert stable since early 2014.

In the San Antonio, at 1 1/16 miles, Hoppertunity ($7) closed from last of seven to win by a length over stablemate and 9-5 favorite Mor Spirit. Hoppertunity has won 7 of 25 starts and has earned $4,066,425.

“He’s like a fullback,” Baffert said of Hoppertunity. “He always guts it out.”

Mor Spirit led in the stretch of the San Antonio Stakes in his second start after a layoff of more than seven months. Mor Spirit won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity in 2015 and was 10th in the Kentucky Derby last May.

“Mor Spirit ran a helluva race,” Baffert said.

Trained by Peter Miller, St. Joe Bay is in the best form of his career, having won the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes here Dec. 31. Co-owned by David Bernsen, St. Joe Bay has won 5 of 21 starts and has earned $377,175.

“I think we’re going to Dubai,” Miller said. “It makes sense. He’s super sharp and he’s got the temperament to ship.”

Miller is also considering Richard’s Boy for the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint. Richard’s Boy won the California Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 28.

There were four graded stakes Saturday. The winners of the other races – Royal Mo in the $150,000 Robert Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds and Isotherm in the $201,380 San Marcos Stakes on turf – are being considered for stakes at Santa Anita in March.

Royal Mo won his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Royal Mo led throughout to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Irap.

Trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss, Royal Mo has won 2 of 4 starts. Shirreffs said the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles March 11 is a possibility for Royal Mo, as well as for  stablemate Gormley, who won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes last month.

There is a chance Royal Mo or Gormley could be sent to Oaklawn Park for a stakes in March, Shirreffs said.

“There are a lot of options,” Shirreffs said.

Royal Mo has led throughout his two wins, including a maiden race at a mile at Del Mar on Nov. 27. Shirreffs said the colt is not reliant on that style. He noted Royal Mo was second in a maiden race here Nov. 6 after recovering from a slow start.

“He’s got a big stride and, when he gets going, he can be effective,” Shirreffs said.

Isotherm was sent to California from the East Coast for the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar on Dec. 3. He was ninth in that race, but stayed in Southern California for the winter.

Isotherm gave a career-best performance to win the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes by a half-length in his 4-year-old debut and 12th start.

“He ran the biggest race of his life,” said trainer George Weaver, whose stable is primarily based in New York and Florida this winter.

“For the time being, I think he’ll stay out there and we’ll see how he trains.”

Weaver said the $200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf March 25 is a possibility. The win in the San Marcos ended an eight-race losing streak for Isotherm since the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park in September 2015.

Owned by Matthew Schera, Isotherm was winless in seven starts last year, with a second in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Derby at Laurel in September his best performance in a graded stakes.

“He’ a beautiful horse, and an eye-catching horse,” Weaver said. “We had a frustrating 3-year-old campaign. It’s nice to start his 4-year-old campaign doing something he hadn’t done before.”