09/27/2012 1:48PM

Santa Anita: FrontRunner gives Capo Bastone, Gabriel Charles a second chance

Shigeki Kikkawa
Gabriel Charles didn't get a chance to display his talents in the Del Mar Futurity because of modest fractions and traffic, but is a candidate to greatly improve in the FrontRunner.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Both Capo Bastone and Gabriel Charles had trained sensationally coming into the Del Mar Futurity earlier this month, but the way the race unfolded, with a moderate pace and a bunched field, neither ever got a fair chance to show his best. They were all revved up with no place to go.

On Saturday at Santa Anita, they return in the Grade 1, $250,000 FrontRunner Stakes, and a victory here would certainly erase the bad taste of Del Mar, for the FrontRunner offers a fees-paid berth to the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile through the Win and You’re In program.

[SANTA ANITA: Get PPs and watch Saturday's full card live]

The FrontRunner also is the first domestic race to offer qualifying points to the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs has moved to a points system to determine the field for the Derby, scrapping the previous system of graded stakes earnings. The FrontRunner’s first four finishers will get 10-4-2-1 points, respectively.

The FrontRunner, formerly known as the Norfolk, is as perfect a dress rehearsal as there could be for the BC Juvenile – 1 1/16 miles, at Santa Anita, the same conditions as the Juvenile.

As a result, 11 2-year-olds entered the race, including four from the Del Mar Futurity, most notably runner-up Know More. But the unsatisfying nature of the Del Mar Futurity, the switch from Polytrack to dirt, and the increase in distance from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles makes this a far different race.

Capo Bastone finished fourth in the Del Mar Futurity after racing in traffic much of the way.

“He didn’t get any kind of a trip at all,” his trainer, John Sadler, said the other morning at Santa Anita.

Gabriel Charles, who broke from the rail in the Del Mar Futurity, also never saw daylight until it was too late.

“I was worried about that the minute the entries came out. I dread the one hole any time,” Jeff Mullins, who trains Gabriel Charles, said Thursday morning. “Joe said he was loaded the whole way. It was just bad racing luck.”

“Joe” would be Joe Talamo, who chose Gabriel Charles for this race over Mullins’s other entrant, Dry Summer, whom Talamo rode to victory last time out in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf at Del Mar.

“Joe had his choice,” Mullins said. “Both are training really well. The thing I feel good about with Dry Summer is that he’s already got a route race under his belt.”

Know More won the Best Pal in his career debut prior to the Del Mar Futurity, in which he was favored. His trainer, Doug O’Neill, was scheduled to return from a suspension on Friday.

“I thought he ran well last time,” O’Neill said Thursday morning. “He had to back out of traffic, so to rally for second was a big effort. Two turns is a whole new beast, but he’s got the mind for it. He relaxes.”

Bob Baffert lost his best chance for this race when Rolling Fog, the Del Mar Futurity winner, went to the sidelines for the rest of the year. Baffert has three understudies, including the unbeaten Carving, who is owned by ski great Bode Miller and Baffert’s wife, Jill.

Baffert also sends out Den’s Legacy, who defeated maidens in his third lifetime start, and Power Broker, who is winless in three starts but was a good second behind Dry Summer in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf.

Dirty Swagg and Imperative both defeated maidens going two turns last time out.