Spencer rides Strong Suit at Santa Anita
Preview: USA, Saturday 12.38am (Sun) GMT
Santa Anita: Arcadia Stakes (Grade 2) 1m, turf, 3yo+
JAMIE SPENCER flies into California on Saturday night to partner Strong Suit (Simon Callaghan) for his retainers Qatar Racing as the former Richard Hannon-trained five-year-old makes his debut for his new US-based trainer in a competitive Grade 2 event at Santa Anita.
The three-time Group 2 winner, last seen finishing fourth in the Park Stakes at Doncaster in September, has been done few favours by the draw as he starts in the outside gate of a maximum 14-runner field for the Arcadia Stakes over a mile around tight turf circuit at southern California's most prestigious venue.
Simon Callaghan: trains Strong SuitPICTURE: Mark Cranham
"We've had the horse about five months and given him time," said trainer Simon Callaghan, son of former Newmarket legend Neville Callaghan.
"He's been working very well and he's a very good European import. He's going to be pretty tough in this race. He's a good horse."
Strong Suit, who races without Lasix, is favoured by the weights in the $150,000 contest as he gets 5lb from leading rival Silentio (Gary Mandella/Rafael Bejarano), a lightly raced four-year-old who scored in Grade 2 company over course and distance in December.
Also in the field are Vagabond Shoes (John Sadler/Julien Leparoux), twice a Group 3 winner in France for Yan Durepaire, and Suggestive Boy (Ron McAnally/Joe Talamo), four times a Grade 1 winner in Argentina. The latter was seventh in the Breeders' Cup Mile on his most recent outing.
Also on Saturday
Aqueduct: Withers Stakes (Grade 3) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo (9.18pm GMT, live on ATR)
Not for the first time, Todd Pletcher is in a dominant position in ante-post markets for the Kentucky Derby.
Javier Castellano: rides Revolutionary for Todd PletcherPICTURE: Getty Images
He is represented here by highly regarded maiden winner Revolutionary (Javier Castellano) in this early step on the New York trail to the Triple Crown races.
Darley run a pair of Kiaran McLaughlin-trained maiden winners in Long River (Irad Ortiz) and Valid (Junior Alvarado), who break from the inside berths.
Either could easily earn a transfer to Godolphin's select US string if they show up well here.
Gulfstream Park: Hutcheson Stakes (Grade 2) 7f, dirt, 3yo (10.05pm GMT)
Pletcher, who won this five times in a row from 2003-07, saddles dual winner Forty Tales (John Velazquez) from the inside post against Merit Man (Bob Hess/Paco Lopez), beaten just once in four starts, when going down by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint. He won over 6f here last month.
Santa Anita: Robert B Lewis Stakes (Grade 2) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo (10.03pm GMT)
The Kentucky Derby-winning team of trainer Doug O'Neill, jockey Mario Gutierrez and owner Paul Reddam are back after taking this last year with subsequent Churchill Downs hero I'll Have Another.
Their Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up He's Had Enough faces just three rivals, including a pair of Bob Baffert trainees in maiden winner Flashback (Julien Leparoux) and Sham Stakes second Den's Legacy (Garrett Gomez).
Santa Anita: Strub Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 4yo+ (12.07am Sun GMT)
Battle is rejoined between Fed Biz (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith) and Tritap (Steve Asmussen/Corey Nakatani), separated last month by a head in the Grade 2 San Fernando. The runner-up gets a 5lb pull this time.