ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 16, 2009) – In search of his fourth San Marcos Stakes victory, Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale will send out three formidable contenders among ten entrants on Monday in Santa Anita’s 57th running of the Grade II, $150,000 event at 1 ¼ miles on turf.

Millionaire Marsh Side, multiple Grade I stakes winner Artiste Royal and Obrigado, a recent second in Hollywood Park’s Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup, will be Drysdale’s shooters in the stakes race that tops the track’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day program of nine races. First post is at 12:30 p.m. A secondary feature is the $70,000 San Pedro Stakes for 3-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs.

A 6-year-old Gone West homebred owned by Robert S. Evans, Marsh Side ran the race of his life in his last start. He rallied strongly to record a 29-1 upset in the Group I, $1,851,250 Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 4 and thus end an eight-race losing streak.

That stunning win earned a high weight assignment of 123 pounds for Marsh Side as he makes his Santa Anita debut after earning $1,109,640 for his fifth victory in 18 lifetime starts. His first 17 tallies had netted a total of $330,066. Javier Castellano, aboard for the 1 ¾ length triumph over Spice Route and third-place Champs Elysees at Woodbine, will journey to Santa Anita for a return engagement.

Artiste Royal, whose fortunes veered off course when eleventh in last month’s Group I, $2,580,000 Hong Kong Cup, will attempt to regain his bearings when teamed for the first time on Monday with Garrett Gomez. The Irish-bred son of Danehill has been ridden by ten other jockeys since being imported to the United States from France by David and Jill Heerensperger during the summer of 2005.

Artiste Royal has posted a consistent 2-5-5 record in 15 starts in this country with the two victories achieved in Hollywood Park’s Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap last summer and in Oak Tree’s Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship in October of 2007 at Santa Anita.

Prior to the Hong Kong experience, he ventured to Tokyo 13 months earlier for the Group I, $4,294,000 Japan Cup and finished eighth. Artiste Royal rebounded well from his first Asian trip to place second when coming back in last year’s Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita. He has earned $781,790 from a record of 6-8-5 in 27 lifetime starts.

Obrigado hasn’t won in ten races since taking the 2007 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita, but he turned in his best effort since that victory when second in his last start. The 6-year-old French-bred gelding lost by one-half length to Champs Elysees when 22-1 in the Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park on Dec. 6. Joel Rosario, who was aboard for the first time in the Turf Cup, has the return call in the San Marcos. Obrigado has compiled a career record of 5-5-6 in 25 starts for earnings of $577,504.

The complete field for the San Marcos Stakes (eighth race), with jockeys and weights in post position order: Cover Magic, Clinton Potts, 115; Stream Cat, Joseph Talamo, 119; Marsh Side, Javier Castellano, 123; Ferneley, Victor Espinoza, 115; Medici Code, Rafael Bejarano, 115; Artiste Royal, Garrett Gomez, 115; Obrigado, Joel Rosario, 115; Black Astor, Mike Smith, 115; Fitz Flag, David Flores, 115, and Spring House, Alex Solis, 119.

R. D. Hubbard’s Spring House might be considered the leading threat to the Drysdale threesome. He won the Grade II Del Mar Handicap last summer and captured the Grade II San Luis Obispo at Santa Anita last year. The 7-year-old Chester House gelding, trained by Julio Canani, shows earnings of $735,284 from a lifetime record of 7-5-12 in 36 races. Alex Solis has the mount. Among other entrants, Ferneley and Medici Code finished second and third behind Proudinsky in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Gabriel Handicap on Dec. 28.

Flashmans Papers, the 119-pound high weight, is the only multiple winner among eight entrants in the 18th running of the San Pedro Stakes. The British-bred colt, trained by Doug O’Neill for his brother, Dennis, is coming off a one-half length win in the Eddie Logan Stakes on Dec. 27.

Flashmans Papers is two-for-two since joining the O’Neill barn after breaking his maiden in England. Rafael Bejarano rides the bay colt who has been to the post eleven times for earnings of $150,180 from a 3-0-2 record.

The complete field for the San Pedro Stakes (seventh race), with jockeys and weights in post position order: Congor Bay, Patrick Husbands; Ventana, Rosario, 115; Flashmans Papers, Bejarano, 119; Arashi Cat, Potts, 115; Point Attended, Michael Baze, 115; Cut the Check, Jose Valdivia Jr., 115; Comic Club, Talamo, 115, and Princeandrew, Flores, 115.

Following the holiday racing program, Santa Anita will be dark on Tuesday and Wednesday before racing resumes on Thursday.