San Juan Capistrano Stakes Preview

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, June 19, 2021

The San Juan Capistrano stakes is one of the longest, Graded turf races in the United States. It's 1 ¾ miles on Santa Anita's turf course and has a few unusual twists and turns. It starts downhill, makes a sharp right before entering a sweeping left turn, crosses over dirt before running two laps on the main turf course.

It's named after the California City, San Juan Capistrano. The town got its name from missionary named Giovanni da Capistrano, a Catholic who founded a mission in 1776. San Juan Capistrano was renowned for "the return of the sparrows", but some renovations to the mission have all but ended their return.

From the history of the namesake to the history of the San Juan Capistrano Stakes.

It was first run in 1935 at 1 1/8 miles on dirt and in 1937, SEABISCUIT became its most famous winner, setting the track record for the distance at the time. In 1950, the race was moved to its current distance of 1 ¾ miles and to turf from dirt in 1954.

For 31-years, from 1973 to 2004, the San Juan Capistrano was a Grade I stakes, then moved to a GII through 2014 before another downgrade to its current GIII rating in 2015.

Profile of a San Juan Winner based on the last 10-years.

Don't play the favorite on top, but don't get too far away from the primary players. The public's choice has won three of the last 10 but hit the board in seven of 10. However, the average winner paid just $5.84, so close to 2-1 odds.

San Juan champs are usually in good form, with seven hitting triple digits on the speed gun in the prior race. Odds are today's champ will exit stalls two of four as they've claimed six of the 10 with three each. They are also more like to be closers/stalker with seven of the last 10 to claim the hardware coming off the pace, usually around fourth after the first half mile.

Projected Order at the half-mile marker.

Picks to win, well, you have to watch the video:

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