D’Amato Has Trio Of Turf Runners Pointing To Feb. 6 San Marcos

Phil D’Amato has three horses nominated to next Saturday’s Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at a mile and a quarter on turf at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., and all are possible starters for the trainer who celebrates his 45th birthday March 11.

The three are Acclimate, Count Again and Salvator Mundi. Although they gained a week due to rain, each would be coming back on a relatively short turnaround, led by Acclimate, third as the 19-10 favorite in the Unusual Heat Turf Classic on Jan. 16.

Count Again disappointed at even money when eased in the G2 San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 2, while Salvator Mundi was a creditable third in an overnight race on Jan. 8.

“They’re all under consideration,” D’Amato said. Count Again won the G2 Seabiscuit at Del Mar last Nov. 28, but was eased as the even-money favorite in the San Gabriel after being just three lengths off the pace midway through the race.

“He took a funny step right at the top of the stretch and Juan (Hernandez) just kind of wrapped up on him to make sure he was all right. Luckily, he was.

“For sure I’ll run Acclimate and Salvator Mundi. It’s a rather quick comeback for Acclimate, but I had this race in the back of my mind for him. It was hard to pass up 200 grand ($200,000 purse) against Cal-breds (in the Unusual Heat Turf Classic presented by City National Bank at a mile and an eighth), but at the same he’s coming back at a distance he prefers (in the San Marcos).

“I always had this race planned for him, if he came out of the Unusual Heat in good shape, and he really has, so we’ll look to wheel him back going a mile and a quarter.”

Salvator Mundi, a 5-year-old son of outstanding turf miler and grass sire Artie Schiller, was claimed for $40,000 in September of 2019 at Keeneland and has won twice in seven starts for D’Amato since. The San Marcos would be only his third stakes race in 16 career starts.

“He’s just kind of learning where he needs to be placed to be most effective,” D’Amato said of the bay gelding who stalked the pace before weakening to finish sixth in the G2 John Henry Turf Classic at a mile and a quarter last Sept. 26.

“I think he merits another chance at a mile and quarter for sure, the way he’s come out of that race.”

This will be the 69th running of the San Marcos, won last year by LNJ Foxwoods’ United, ridden by Flavien Prat and trained by Richard Mandella.

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