After running second to Zappa in last year’s San Pasqual, Well Armed became a major force among older horses. He won Santa Anita’s Grade II San Antonio Handicap, traveled to Dubai to finish third behind Curlin in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, took the Grade II Del Mar Handicap, lost by a neck to Go Between in Del Mar’s Grade I Pacific Classic and captured Oak Tree’s Grade I Goodwood Stakes.
“The rest helped him and he’s been working super,” Harty said of the 6-year-old Tiznow gelding’s activity since Oak Tree’s Breeders’ Cup on Oct. 25. Harty, however, is unsure of Well Armed’s future beyond the San Pasqual. In 2008, the conflicting Dubai World Cup trumped the Big ’Cap, scheduled March 7 this season.
“We’ll get him through Saturday’s race,” Harty stated. “We’ll make a plan after this race.”
The Kentucky-bred, who began his career in England, will carry high weight of 121 pounds with regular rider Aaron Gryder in the saddle. After winning but two starts in 11 races overseas for earnings of $35,343, Well Armed the last two years has banked $1,495,460 from 4-2-1 record in nine starts including the lone trip to Dubai.
The complete field for the San Pasqual Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Mostacolli Mort, Garrett Gomez, 114; Marchfield, Patrick Husbands, 118; Informed, Michael Baze, 113; Cowboy Cal, John Velazquez, 117; Noble Court, Mike Smith, 114; Past the Point, Rafael Bejarano, 116; Well Armed, Aaron Gryder, 121; Magnum, Martin Pedroza, 113; Blue Exit, no rider, 113; Ball Four, Christopher DeCarlo, 118; Racketeer, Chantal Sutherland, 113, and Slew’s Tizzy, Joel Rosario, 116.
Under the handicap conditions, Well Armed will be giving three pounds to Canadian newcomer Marchfield and multiple graded-stakes winner Ball Four, each assigned 118 pounds.
Marchfield, an A.P. Indy 5-year-old who will be ridden by top Canadian jockey Patrick Husbands, is coming off the best race of his career, a victory in the Grade II Autumn Stakes at Woodbine Race Course in Toronto on Nov. 9. Mark Casse trains Marchfield for Melnyk Racing Stables.
Ball Four, an 8-year-old gelding trained by Todd Pletcher for Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, has posted a 6-3-4 record in 23 lifetime starts for earnings of $621,520. He won Keeneland’s Grade III Fayette Stakes last October. Santa Anita newcomer Chris DeCarlo will ride. The New Jersey-native rides first call on Pletcher horses based in New Jersey.
The San Pasqual Handicap will be the eighth race on a nine-race program that gets underway at 12:30 p.m.