$200,000 San Vicente - Texas Red Returns

Call it an old-school approach for Texas Red (Afleet Alex). A 6 1/2-length winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), the well-regarded colt will make his three-year-old debut at seven furlongs when he lines up for Sunday's $200,000 San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita.

Kentucky Derby contenders with two-year-old form are rarely seen in early-season sprints nowadays -- the typical pattern has become two starts at a route. It's been 18 years since the last stakes-winning juvenile, Silver Charm, returned in a one-turn race before capturing the Kentucky Derby. And that race was the 1997 San Vicente.

Texas Red's connections decided upon the San Vicente as the best option despite the fact that he's never won at a one-turn distance. Keith Desormeaux trains and his brother, three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent, rides.

A well-built bay son of 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex, Texas Red dropped his first two starts sprinting before breaking his maiden going two turns at Del Mar last summer. The Kentucky-bred recorded a non-threatening third behind American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) when making his first stakes attempt, the FrontRunner (G1) in late September, and followed with a 13-1 upset in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, netting a career-best 101 BRIS Speed rating while closing from last to first.

Texas Red will face seven rivals as the likely overwhelming favorite.

Lord Nelson (Pulpit) finished one spot back of Texas Red when fourth in the FrontRunner and earned his first stakes win in the six-furlong Speak Easy at Santa Anita on October 13, posting a 6 3/4-length runaway score. He concluded 2014 with a fifth as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, a race that has already produced next-out stakes winners El Kabeir and International Star, and the Bob Baffert-trained Lord Nelson figures to appreciate the cut back in trip. Rafael Bejarano picks up the mount.

Baffert will also be represented by Punctuate (Distorted Humor). The bay colt colt makes his first appearance since an impressive debut maiden win at Santa Anita in late September and will be ridden by Martin Garcia. Punctuate is out the famous New Mexico-bred mare Peppers Pride (Desert God), who earned more than $1 million and attracted national headlines by winning all 19 career starts from 2005-08.

Serbian Syclone (Wildcat Heir) brings plenty of speed to the mix in his stakes debut. A 6 1/4-length debut winner two starts back, the Peter Miller trainee exits a facile wire-to-wire victory over allowance/optional claiming rivals at six furlongs on December 31. Elvis Trujillo has the call.