02/09/2013 1:55PM

Santa Anita: Mudflats needs good San Vicente effort to rejoin Kentucky Derby trail

Adam Coglianese
Mudflats, shown winning his maiden, will try to regain his confidence in next Sunday's seven-furlong San Vicente.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Mudflats had two widely diverse races in consecutive starts at Aqueduct this winter.

An emphatic win in a maiden race over seven furlongs in December was followed by a confusingly poor seventh in the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes over a mile and 70 yards on Jan. 5. The loss has dented plans of running Mudflats around two turns in a major stakes for 3-year-olds in coming weeks, an opinion that could be reversed if the gelding runs well in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs at Santa Anita next Sunday.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

“I want to get him back to one turn in our own backyard,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “He’s not there mentally yet.”

The Jerome was Mudflats’s first start for O’Neill and the partnership that bought him after his maiden win, a group led by Little Red Feather Racing. By Tapit, Mudflats set the pace in the Jerome but faded through the stretch to finish 14 3/4 lengths behind Vyjack.

O’Neill insists that he has not abandoned thoughts of running Mudflats around two turns.

“That’s the tentative plan,” he said. “He’s got a long stride and has the pedigree.”

Aside from Mudflats, the Grade  2 San Vicente can prove the stakes ability of other runners among the 12 nominees. The race is being considered for the maiden race winners Belvin, trained by Bob Baffert, and Demonic, trained by John Sadler.

The race will not feature Distinctiv Passion, who won the San Pedro Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs here in January. Trainer Jeff Bonde said Distinctiv Passion sustained a bruised foot in recent training.