• The week’s highest Beyer speed figure in North America
100 Express Train
Santa Anita (Jan 30): San Pasqual Stakes G2 $200,000, 1m1f, dirt, 4yo+
Trainer: John Shirreffs
Jockey: Juan Hernandez
Owner: CRK Stable LLC
Pedigree: 4 bc Union Rags – I’m A Flake (Mineshaft)
Express Train put himself in position for a crack at the Santa Anita Handicap on March 6 after a convincing victory in the San Pasqual – and paid a big compliment to Charlatan in the process.
The Saudi Cup favourite had the John Shirreffs-trained four-year-old 4½ lengths behind when the pair met over 7f in the G1 Malibu on December 26.
However, Express Train was sneakily good that day, staying on after a wide trip over an inadequate distance to finish in front of G1 horses and he seemed to relish the stretchout on Saturday, when he rated nicely on the rails in third before swinging out in the stretch.
He beat Tizamagician by 3½ lengths in a time of 1m52.13s – just enough for that three-digit Beyer that can roughly be taken to represent a G1-level performance.
Now Shirreffs is set to step the son of Belmont winner Union Rags up another furlong for the $400,000 event known colloquially as the Big ‘Cap on March 6, when he will surely be among the favourites.
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