01/18/2011 2:32PM

San Marcos could be start of rivalry for Bourbon Bay, Champ Pegasus

Benoit & Associates
Bourbon Bay outfinishes Champ Pegasus in Monday’s $150,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita.

The 1-2 finish by Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus in Monday’s $150,000 San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf might have been the first in a string of meetings by the two horses in the remaining turf marathon stakes of the meeting.

Trainers Neil Drysdale (Bourbon Bay) and Richard Mandella (Champ Pegasus) said they will point their horses to the $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf on Feb. 19, a race that Bourbon Bay won last year.

Bourbon Bay was the dominant turf horse in California in early 2010, winning three Grade 2 stakes at Santa Anita, including the San Luis Obispo, at a time when Champ Pegasus was running in allowance races.

In the second half of 2010, Champ Pegasus developed into the dominant turf horse, winning the Del Mar Handicap and Clement Hirsch Turf Championship and finishing second in the BC Turf at Churchill Downs. Bourbon Bay ran third in the Hirsch but battled illness in the fall.

“It took longer than anticipated to get him back,” Drysdale said. “Hopefully this year, we’ll be able to keep him well.”

In the San Marcos, Champ Pegasus led in early stretch but was caught by Bourbon Bay, who won by 1 3/4 lengths.

Mandella was happy with the San Marcos result, even in defeat.

“This should get him in shape,” he said.

Smiling Tiger heads Palos Verdes

Smiling Tiger, third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November and second by a nose in the Malibu Stakes here Dec. 26, will be a heavy favorite in Saturday’s $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap over six furlongs.

Trainer Jeff Bonde said Monday that Smiling Tiger will be ridden by Russell Baze in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes. Other probable starters are Captain Cherokee, Euroears, Gato Go Win, Hunch, and Ventana.

◗ Former trainer Nick Hines, a commentator on the TVG network, has left his position as a racing manager for Southern Equine Stable to focus on television commentary and working as a bloodstock consultant, he said. Hines, 40, worked with Southern Equine Stable for three years.