Well Armed well prepared for San Antonio Grade II
WinStar Farm's Well Armed ran a sensational race today in the Grade II San Antonio Handicap going a mile and one-eighth on Santa Anita's newly resurfaced cushion track under jockey Aaron Gryder. The five-year-old gelding was well prepared for today's race despite the racetrack woes at Santa Anita. The main track was reopened just this morning after five days of working to remix the cushion material in an attempt to repair the drainage problems that the track has suffered since installing the surface last year.
The wire-to-wire performance by the Tiznow bay was all the more impressive on a track that appeared to have lost its speed bias after the renovations. Going off at the surprisingly chilly odds of 14-1, Well Armed broke sharply and immediately assumed the lead. He opened up three lengths on the backstretch and held on gamely under a challenge by Heatseeker (IRE) to cross the wire a head in front. His final time for the distance was 1:47.3, a tick faster than his track record performance at Hollywood Park in November in an allowance event.
The contentious field included four other graded stakes winners, including Student Council, winner of last year's Pacific Classic GI. Well Armed was coming into the race off a strong second-place performance in the San Pasqual Hcp. GII on January 12th. Connections have been pointing him toward the Dubai World Cup in late March and trainer Eoin Harty indicated that he would skip the Big 'Cap and train for the Dubai race.
"He had been training extremely well going into the race," said Harty. "He worked well at Hollywood during the week and I was confident in his chances despite his odds. He got a very good ride from Aaron and will probably head to Dubai from here."
Well Armed was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and is out of the Notebook mare Well Dressed.