Given the option of running for $250,000 against California-breds and Florida-breds, or running for $150,000 against open company, the choice might appear obvious.
But not to trainer Rafael Becerra. The trainer of Crackup - who comes off victories in the California Cup Juvenile and Great State Challenge Juvenile - is looking beyond the immediate riches to potential greater glory in coming months. And that is why he decided on Wednesday morning to run Crackup in Saturday's $150,000 Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita, rather than ship across the country to Gulfstream Park to run one week later in the $250,000 Ocala Stud Dash, part of the Sunshine Millions program.
The Santa Catalina is 1 1/16 miles, while the Ocala Stud Dash is seven furlongs, and Becerra said that was an added factor in deciding to go in the Santa Catalina.
"I want to run him two turns," Becerra said Wednesday morning. "I think it's better. We want to find out what kind of horse we've got."
The Cal Cup Juvenile, run over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita during the Oak Tree meeting, was the only time Crackup has gone two turns. He has won three times in five starts, and has finished in the money in every race.
The Santa Catalina, a Grade 2 race that serves as the first major prep this meet for the Santa Anita Derby, is expected to draw a large field when entries are taken Thursday morning. In addition to Crackup, who will be ridden by Tyler Baze, the field is expected to include D's Bertrando, Domestic Dispute (David Flores riding), Our Bobby V. (Laffit Pincay Jr.), Robledo (Julie Krone), Scrimshaw (Alex Solis), Singletary (Patrick Valenzuela), Storm Gulch (Tony Farina), and possibly Nation Wide News (Corey Nakatani).
Storm Gulch, who has only a six-furlong maiden win at Keeneland in two starts, will be making his first start since being acquired by owner Michael Tabor and trainer Patrick Biancone. Storm Gulch breezed a half-mile in 49.20 seconds Wednesday morning.
"He went in company because he can be lazy," Biancone said.