03/06/2012 3:00PM

Santa Anita: Rousing Sermon will need big showing in San Felipe

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Benoit & Associates
Rousing Sermon (8) runs a close second to Liaison in the CashCall Futurity.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The third-place finish by Rousing Sermon in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 4 led to a pep talk between owner Larry Williams and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

The colt had been a fast-closing second in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December, and there were high expectations for his first start of 2012.

“Larry hasn’t lost any confidence in him,” Hollendorfer said earlier this week. “We talked about it and he asked if I’d lost any faith, and I said I hadn’t.”

Rousing Sermon makes his second start of 2012 in Saturday’s $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, the final stakes prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7. Rousing Sermon needs big performances in both races to justify a trip to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5.

“If you want to keep on the trail, you have to do more,” Hollendorfer said.

The champion California-bred colt of 2011, Rousing Sermon actually finished fourth in the Lewis, beaten 6 3/4 lengths by I’ll Have Another. Rousing Sermon was promoted to third after original third-place finisher Groovin’ Solo was disqualified for causing interference in the stretch.

Since the Lewis, Rousing Sermon has worked quickly, including a half-mile in 46.60 seconds at Hollywood Park last Sunday. “He had a good blowout,” Hollendorfer said.

In the CashCall, Rousing Sermon was as far back as 11th in a field of 13. In the Lewis Stakes, he was sixth in a field of eight, but closer to the pace throughout. Hollendorfer does not want Rousing Sermon too far behind the leaders in the San Felipe, considering that Santa Anita’s main track is friendly to speed.

“On any given day, speed will hold,” he said. “We’d like to sit off and make a run if we can get some pace.”

The San Felipe will not include I’ll Have Another, who is being pointed for the Santa Anita Derby. The San Felipe probable starters include the stakes winners Creative Cause, Liaison, and Midnight Transfer, and the stakes-placed Empire Way, and the impressive allowance race winner Fed Biz.

Tuesday at Hollywood Park, Creative Cause, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs last November, worked a half-mile in 46.60 seconds, the fastest of 34 works at the distance.