04/01/2011 5:25PM

Santa Anita: Maiden winner Wilburn stretches out


Wilburn, the outstanding winner of a maiden race on March 5, makes his debut against winners, and first start around two turns, in a first-level optional $80,000 claimer for 3-year-olds going a mile on Sunday’s seventh race at Santa Anita.

Owned by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stable and trained by Steve Asmussen, Wilburn won his debut over 6 1/2 furlongs by 3 1/4 lengths, closing from fourth in a field of seven before taking the lead in early stretch.

“He’s a great big horse with a beautiful mind,” said Asmussen’s assistant, Scott Blasi. “Hopefully, he can get a similar trip. This is the next step. If he passes this test, I think there are bigger things in the future for him.”

Blasi did not elaborate on what that could be, but Wilburn, 17 hands tall, according to Blasi, was nominated for the Triple Crown races earlier this year. Wilburn, by Bernardini, is part of a field of eight, which includes the recent maiden race winner Red Sharp Humor and Special Kid, who was third in the Borderland Derby at Sunland Park on Feb. 26.

Trainer Bob Baffert starts Uncle Sam, the winner of a maiden race on Dec. 27 who was only fourth as the 5-2 second choice in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 15. Uncle Sam has worked quickly in recent weeks, including five furlongs from the gate in 59 seconds on March 28.