Saturday racing action at Santa Anita features the cover boy for today’s Daily Racing Form, the three-year-old son of Smart Strike named Square Eddie. Additionally, we’ve got three graded stakes in the late Pick 4 sequence including the Grade 2 Santa Ynez (race 6), the Grade 3 San Rafael (race 7), and the Grade 2 San Fernando (race 8). We’ll take a look at each as the betting action figures to be fast and furious.
If you’ve been playing Santa Anita, or casually paying attention from a distance, you know how hard it’s been to pick anything consistently. Numerous carryovers in the Pick 6 pool illustrate the difficulty horseplayers have faced. I’ll be honest, I haven’t done so well lately. It starts to wear on you after a while, as you panic thinking there is a fundamental flaw you have yet to discover in your handicapping, or that some dark storm cloud has set upon you assuring that you will never pick a winner again. Obviously the latter is nonsense. Another way to look at things is with some good old fashioned optimism. After all, if you’ve been getting your teeth kicked in for a sustained period of time, you can bank on one surefire thing; you are DUE with a capital D!
Race 6: The Grade 2 Santa Ynez (7 Furlongs)
- #1 Candilejas (M. Garcia/J. Mullins) 15/1
- #2 Nan (C. Nakatani/C. Dollase) 15/1
- #4 Spanish Ice (D.R. Flores/C. Dollase) 6/1
- #5 Empressive Lady (M.C. Baze/J. Mullins) 4/1
- #6 Turtle Creek Babe (V. Espinoza/R. McAnally) 20/1
- #7 Deeveetee (P. Husbands/M. Casse) 8/1
- #8 Evita Argentina (G. Gomez/J. Sadler) 5/2
- #9 Alpha Kitten (T. Baze/J. Sadler) 9/5*
To me the story of the Santa Ynez is the complete lack of pace on paper. Things weren’t help when Pinkarella was scratched from the race on Thursday. The lack of pace will likely hinder one of the morning line favorites, Evita Argentina, or she will have to alter her running style and be a bit closer to whatever pace there is. So far she’s done all of her running from well off the pace.
Alpha Kitten and Empressive Lady look to be the ones to beat today. They’ve each got a hint of versatility and should be either apart of whatever develops or will be close enough to it to make their presence known. I’ll tell you that Alpha Kitten comes up with more angles to consider, at least from how I handicapped the race, but my gut tells me Alpha Kitten will enjoy the cut back to 7 furlongs from the 1 1/16 miles she attempted last time in the Hollywood Starlet.
A dark horse worth taking a long look at in the post parade is Deeveetee, who when all is said and done is probably the best candidate for becoming the early pace setter. Note that 3 races back she dueled for the lead against state bred rivals before fading. Obviously anyone loose on the lead here could be a serious threat to steal the race. I still prefer Alpha Kitten and Empressive Lady, but I wouldn’t rule Deeveetee out of the mix at all.
Lastly, for your head-scratching angle of the day, note that fringe contender Turtle Creek Babe once defeated the mighty Stardom Bound last July. Since then things haven’t been pretty, but it’s worth noting that many of the top competitors in this race have been soundly defeated by Stardom Bound. I’m just sayin’ .
Race 7: The Grade 3 San Rafael (1 Mile)
- #1 The Pamplemousse (A. Solis/J. Canini) 4/1
- #2 Fiddlers Afleet (M.C. Baze/J. O’Hara) 6/1
- #3 Brother Keith (G. Gomez/R. Frankel) 5/1
- #4 Ryehill Dreamer (M.E. Smith/J. Shirreffs) 12/1
- #5 Papa Clem (T. Baze/G.Stute) 8/1
- #6 Square Eddie (R. Bejarano/D. O’Niell) 8/5*
- #7 Charlie’s Moment (J. Rosario/W.Solis) 10/1
- #8 Feisty Suances (D. R. Flores/D. Vienna) 8/1
The San Rafael is probably the race most people are focusing on, and rightfully so. It’s our first chance to take a look at Square Eddie in 2009, the colt some have referred to as “baby Curlin.” We should probably temper the expectations that such associations create by remembering that ‘Eddie has yet to break the 90′s from a Beyer standpoint, and is returning from over 2 full months on the shelf. While his workouts haven’t exactly been scintillating, it is worth remembering that his 2nd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to Midshipman over the same course was good enough to defeat this field. A repeat of that performance likely makes this race academic.
That being said, there are some very game competitors here that figure to make him earn it and are capable of stealing the race if the favorite shows up a bit rusty. Let’s start with The Pamplemousse. The $150,000 purchase for the Julio Canini barn has run 3 very strong races at the maiden special weight level. He finally popped his cherry last out racking up an 89 Beyer; equal to the figure earned by Square Eddie in the BC Juvenile. Beyond that, he really seemed to enjoy the added distance last out going 1 1/16 miles, so today’s mile journey shouldn’t be a concern at all. This could be any kind of horse and he’s got a legit shot to become one of (if not the) top male 3-year-olds on the circuit. He’s a real player here.
Moving to the 4 hole, we’ve got the always dangers John Shirreffs (of Zenyatta, Tiago, and Giacomo fame) teaming up once again with his ace, jockey Michael E. Smith, on what appears to be a very interesting Euro-shipper in Ryehill Dreamer. I’ll be honest, I”m not very good at figuring out how the Euros will run first time out, but memories of invaders like Goldikova and Raven’s Pass are still fresh in my mind, so I think you’ve got to consider him a player as well. Now take a look deeper into his form. He’s been facing some decent company, and has run well in all but one race where the comments indicate he was bumped 2 furlongs from home. Look out – this guy may be live and at a very large price (as evidenced by the 12/1 morning line value). Want another angle? Check out that last morning move in his workout line; 4 furlongs over the Hollywood cushion in :47. I’d say he’s ready to run.
Lastly, you’ve got the Johar offspring Brother Keith for trainer Bobby Frankel. He’s obviously stepping up in class big time to jump from maiden to Grade 3, but he seemingly won for fun last out and has also been working well. If you happen to pick up a copy of the Saturday DRF, make sure you check out Brad Free’s article that makes some interesting points about Johar offspring. Obviously I’m against plagarism, so I won’t steal any of his thunder here. There’s also one other jaw dropping surprise (at least for me) in the same article concerning a horse named Jimmy Two Times, but that’s a story for another time. Like I said, with the edition still fresh on the newsstand, it would be wrong to say anything more. Suffice to say it’s an entertaining read and there’s enough in the article to take any Johar offspring seriously.
I still like Square Eddie here, and as I’m a pretty big fan of the Shirreffs/Smith combination I’ll make Ryehill Dreamer my second choice followed by The Pamplemousse. Know this though, I would NOT feel comfortable taking a stand and making Square Eddie a single – partly because he has yet to demonstrate he is head and shoulders above this field and partly because chalk has been routinely trounced at Santa Anita thus far this year. Some of you may be braver than I…I just feel it’s my duty to caution you while I can.
Race 8: The Grade 2 San Fernando (1 1/16 Miles)
- #1 Muny (D. R. Flores/M. Puype) 8/1
- #2 Wishful Tomcat (J. Rosario/R. Frankel) 8/1
- #3 Cherokee Artist (J. Valdivia/G. Motion) 20/1
- #5 Booted (V. Espinoza/R. Mandella) 8/1
- #6 Nownownow (J. Talamo/P. Biancone) 12/1
- #7 Madeo (M.E. Smith/J. Shirreffs) 3/1*
- #8 El Gato Malo (C. Nakatani/C. Dollase) 6/1
- #9 Silver Sword (M.C. Baze/D.O’Neill) 30/1
- #10 Slew’s Tiznow (R. Bejarano/D.O’Neill) 7/2
- #11 Tres Borrachos (T.Baze/B. Greely) 12/1
- #12 Dakota Phone (G. Gomez/J. Hollendorfer) 8/1
By far the most challenging race to handicap in the stakes sequence at Santa Anita is the 57th running of the Grade 2 San Fernando. Several big name competitors line up, including one time 2008 Kentucky Derby hopeful El Gato Malo, and stakes winners Muny, Slew’s Tiznow, and Tres Borrachos (who finished 9th in the 2008 Preakness).
When I first picked up the advance copy of the DRF, I was overjoyed to see Muny listed as 6/1. I knew it wouldn’t be that good, but it’s more than disappointing to see him instead listed as the morning line favorite at 3/1. Granted, if you like the horse, 3/1 really isn’t a bad price to eat chalk on. It’s actually about as good as you can do when favoritism is concerned. Still, the less than confident odds denote just how difficult this race came up.
Muny and Wishful Tomcat both look like horses that should show speed from the inside, although Muny does possess a hint of tactical ability as evidenced by his style in his initial two maiden efforts. He just about took a strong field including Cowboy Cal and Court Vision to task in the Hollywood Derby before fading to 5th late. That was at 1 1/4 miles, and today he cuts back to 1 1/16. Even better, he’s been able to hold off Madeo in the past, and outside of Wishful Tomcat should not be too hardly pressed today. Based on the odds, I’ll probably make him (Muny) my top play.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Madeo and El Gato Malo here, so if you’re playing the exotics, I’d probably spread fairly deep on this one. Note that Madeo hasn’t been coming from as far off the pace in his synthetic tries as he has on turf, so it would be wrong to discount him as a dead late closer here. I’d amost guarantee that he makes his presence felt here.
El Gato Malo was once my favorite 3-year-old on the California circuit last year, but he ran into some distance limitations trying to go 1 1/8 miles. Anywhere from a mile to a mile and a sixteenth is probably his distance limit. My guess though, is that he’ll probably leave himself more to do than Madeo will, which makes Madeo the stronger play.
Of course, you can never count a Tiznow colt out of a street fight, and to ignore the impressive 102 Beyer figure of Slew’s Tiznow would be a total mistake. I have some concerns about how he classes up against some of these runners, but he should get a nice ride from jockey Rafael Bejarano and if you toss his effort on Breeders’ Cup weekend in the “Pro Ride” (dirt) Mile, then he clearly fits with these.
Two x-factors in the race may be Booted and Tres Borrachos. With “three drunks” (Tres Borrachos), you never quite know who will show up. Early last summer he sort of peeked, and since then has not hit the board. He’s been off since October though, and while he likely needs a race, he appears to have been working very well in the mornings. I would not be shocked if he hit the board at 12/1.
Booted once almost gave me a heart attack, so I’ll never forget him. It was July 4, 2007, and I was alive in the late Pick 4 at Hollywood singled to Salute the Sarge in the 7th race. For much of the early going, it looked like Booted was going to be a major player, then he suddenly backed out of the race. According to the “closer look” comments in the DRF, the horse was injured that day (as well as on another occasion). He’s a tough one to figure out definitively, but it’s hard to argue with the recent form coming off back to back wins.
As always, best of luck to all and make sure to check for late changes and scratches. It’s brutally cold here on the East Coast, so I’ll likely be inside with the newborn all weekend. I plan on having some Sunday picks up as well, but for what it’s worth I’m going for the I-95 Super Bowl in the AFC/NFC championship game. Ravens vs Eagles. It’ll be just like ’83 when the Orioles and Phillies banged heads. And you know what? The outcome would be the same – a Baltimore victory. No doubt the Steelers will have something to say about that when all is said and done, and I must say that as a devoted St. Louis Rams fan, I know as well as anyone that you NEVER count Kurt Warner out of a fight. I just can’t publicly pick the Cardinals to go to the Super Bowl. Years of Cardinals awfulness could be clouding my judgement though.
If you’re looking for anything else to bide the time away this bitter cold weekend, be sure to check out the photo contest we have going over at the new TBA homepage.