02/04/2012 2:35PM

Santa Anita: Bourbon Bay, Sanagas to meet again in San Marcos

Shigeki Kikkawa
Bourbon Bay (above) will be rematched with Sanagas in Saturday's San Marcos.

ARCADIA, Calif.– Bourbon Bay, the 6-year-old multiple stakes winner, will begin 2012 where he left off 2011 – racing against Sanagas in a graded turf stakes in Southern California.

Last November, in the final start of the year for both horses, Sanagas outran Bourbon Bay by 3 1/4 lengths in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup. They will both have their first starts of the year in Saturday’s $150,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita.

While Sanagas has since changed ownership, and has the Melbourne Cup in Australia in November as a long-term goal, Bourbon Bay is expected to have a Southern California-based campaign this year. Trained by Neil Drysdale for David and Jill Heerensperger, Bourbon Bay is the defending champion in the San Marcos, which is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

“He’s doing really well,” Drysdale said. “I think he’s better at a mile and a half, but we’ll see what happens. He’s won at a mile and a quarter.”

Bourbon Bay had mixed form on turf in the second half of 2011. He was second to Celtic New Year in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap in August, but was last of eight in the Grade  1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine in September. The Turf Cup was Bourbon Bay’s only subsequent start in 2011.

The San Marcos is not expected to have a large field. The Usual Q.T., third in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes in his first start since May, is a probable starter. He is winless in eight starts since the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar in July 2010.

Canonize wins dirt debut at age 6

When he runs, Canonize is often worth watching.

In Friday’s second race, Canonize won for the fourth time in his 11-race career in a $63,000 allowance race over seven furlongs. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Canonize ($16.20) stalked pacesetter Indian Firewater, took the lead in early stretch and pulled clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths in a quick 1:20.73.

The allowance race was Canonize’s first start since a third in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 11. He was entered for the Palos Verdes Stakes last month, but scratched by trainer Ron Ellis who preferred Friday’s easier spot.

“I wanted to build his confidence,” he said. “There aren’t many races for this kind. This is his first time on dirt. I had him training on it last fall and he acted like a different horse on it.”

Owned by Samantha Siegel, Canonize was third in the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park in May 2009, but has made just eight subsequent starts. “He’s had little issues, never had surgery,” Ellis said.

There is a sprint stakes in April that could suit Canonize’s schedule – the $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs on April 7.

La Sombre, the winner of an optional claimer for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course in Friday’s seventh race, could make her stakes debut in the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes for California-breds on March 17.

In Friday’s race, La Sombre closed from third under jockey Martin Garcia to win her second consecutive turf sprint of the year. Brian Koriner trains La Sombre for a partnership.