03/08/2017 1:50PM

Look for Follow Me Crev late in Santa Anita Handicap

Shigeki Kikkawa
Follow Me Crev, shown winning an optional claimer under Kent Desormeaux on Feb. 20, will tote 116 pounds in Saturday’s race.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Follow Me Crev will be at the rear of the field in the first half of Saturday’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, way behind the runners expected to produce a fast pace.

“He won’t see those horses from so far back,” trainer Vladimir Cerin said.

The tactics could propel Follow Me Crev into contention in the final furlong of the $750,000 race at 1 1/4 miles. While Follow Me Crev will be a longshot in the Big Cap, his first start in a Grade 1, he deserves a chance in the track’s richest race for older horses, Cerin said.

A 5-year-old gelding, Follow Me Crev has won 6 of 19 starts and earned $252,240. He won an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 20 in his first start since last July.

“If he improves a little bit, he can win,” Cerin said.

The Big Cap field is led by Midnight Storm, the winner of the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 1, and Shaman Ghost, who won the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga last September. They share the top weight of 122 pounds.

Follow Me Crev, who has been assigned 116 pounds, was fifth in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes here last May and fourth behind California Chrome in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar last July. He was taken out of training last summer because of illness and quarter cracks, Cerin said.

Kent Desormeaux rode Follow Me Crev in the Feb. 20 win and has the mount on Saturday.

Owned by David and Holly Wilson, Follow Me Crev was claimed for $50,000 in May 2015. He has since earned $217,800, making a start in Saturday’s race easier to justify.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Cerin said. “He’s a $50,000 claimer. We were hoping to win a starter-allowance race, and he did.”

The Big Cap is the only one of California’s three top stakes for older horses at 1 1/4 miles that Cerin has yet to win. He won the 2000 Hollywood Gold Cup at the now-closed Hollywood Park with Early Pioneer for the Wilsons and the 2007 Pacific Classic at Del Mar with Student Council.

The Big Cap has a field of nine or 10 probable starters, including Gangster, Hard Aces, Hi Happy, Imperative, Isotherm, and Twentytwentyvision.

Twentytwentyvision, a stakes winner on turf at Golden Gate Fields last September, will start in the Big Cap instead of the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes on turf March 25.

“It’s the Big Cap,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “I’m going to go.”

Hi Happy, the 2015 Argentine Horse of the Year, will be ridden by South American-based Altair Domingos, who can make the 116-pound weight assignment, trainer Felipe Souza said.