Warrant ready for another crack at Santa Anita’s Big ’Cap

Conventional wisdom says if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. So that’s what the connections for Warrant are going to do after finishing second in last year’s Santa Anita Handicap. They’re going to try again.

Warrant, a 5-year-old son of Constitution, lost last year’s Big ’Cap by a head to Express Train. He’s won four of 13 starts for earnings of $937,325 for trainer Brad Cox and finished out of the money only once.

Based at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Warrant is one of three shippers for Saturday’s $500,000 Grade I Big ’Cap along with Scarlet Fusion and Proxy. Flavien Prat retains the mount on the co-second choice on the morning line at 4-1. Defunded is the 7-2 favorite.

“He’s settled in, he trained this morning and is doing well,” Cox told Santa Anita publicity by phone of Warrant.

Warrant finished third in the Grade III Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds before his runner-up effort in the Big ’Cap last year. Cox then gave him a seven-month break before prepping for this year’s 86th running of the Big ’Cap with an allowance victory at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 26.

Cox said Warrant needed the break because “he was just a little tired” the second half of the year.

Warrant pressed the pace in last year’s Big ’Cap, poking a head in front at the quarter pole. He and Express Train battled through the length of the stretch before Express Train prevailed in the photo.

“He ran well and that was a very encouraging effort,” Cox said. “All winter we’ve had the mindset to bring him back to California. He’s pretty much on the same pattern as last year. Obviously, last year he prepped in a stakes, but we wanted to get one run in him and I thought that allowance went well.”

Cox hopes the Big ’Cap goes just as well.

“Hopefully, we can do even better this year,” he said.

Santa Anita will card three other stakes on Saturday as part of a 12-race program that begins at noon – the $500,000 Grade I Kilroe Mile, $400,000 Grade II San Felipe Stakes and the $200,000 Grade II Buena Vista Stakes.

The San Felipe, which will go as the sixth race at approximately 2:30 p.m., drew a field of 11 3-year-olds trying to earn a spot in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8. National Treasure, transferred from Bob Baffert to Tim Yakteen’s barn in an effort to earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite. Baffert is ineligible to run in this year’s Derby.

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A son of Quality Road, National Treasure has won one of four starts with a second-place and two third-place finishes. He finished third behind Forte and Cave Rock in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland on Nov. 4.

Hejazi, Fort Bragg and Mr Fisk are other former Baffert horses that were shipped to Yakteen in an effort to gain qualifying points.


When: Saturday, noon

Where: Santa Anita

Highlight: The $500,000 Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, which drew a field of 11

Other stakes: $500,000 Kilroe Mile, $400,000 San Felipe and $200,000 Buena Vista

TV: CNBC and FanDuel TV

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