03/05/2011 12:58PM

Big 'Cap Saturday!

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The historic Santa Anita Handicap headlines a top-notch day of racing at "The Great Race Place." 
At "The Big A," 3-year-olds attempt to sort themselves out in the Gotham. 
There are plenty of good ones to talk about.  Let's get to them:

Santa Anita Oaks - Race 4 - Santa Anita (Scratches and Track Condition N/A):
Do I bet with my heart or with my head?  Every fiber of my handicapping being is telling me that ZAZU is a bad play this afternoon.  After all, of the three fillies returning from the Las Virgenes (Zazu, MAY DAY ROSE, TURBULENT DESCENT), Zazu, by far, had the easiest trip, saving ground off a torrid pace.  Meanwhile, May Day Rose was caught up in that vicious duel and could have it much easier on the lead today.  And, Turbulent Descent, as Zazu saved that valuable ground, had to go the overland route. 
Common trip handicapping sense, and perhaps a good value perspective, prods me to believe that Zazu may be the wrong way to go.
So, I'll pick Zazu to win.
As I wrote that sentence, and attempted to watch the babies get to know each other at the same time, Olivia Katherine Duckworth, soon-to-be 4 years old, winced in agony.  Her younger brother, Aiden Clark Duckworth, aged 5 weeks, frowned (although, to be fair, that may be gas).  Their cousin, Daryn Lindsey, aged 3 weeks, simply looked ashamed. 
I know those looks. 
They're the same ones Mike Beer gives me when I pick horses like Zazu. 
I do believe that Zazu, one of my favorite sophomore fillies, has a good amount of talent and that there still may be more in the tank.  And, it's not like May Day Rose was that impressive two back when beating only two foes in the Santa Ysabel.  And, who's to say that Turbulent Descent isn't slightly better on synthetics?  And isn't the returning A Z WARRIOR, last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in her most recent start, at least questionable around two turns?
We'll find out in a couple of hours.
Selections:  Zazu, Turbulent Descent, Kilograeme

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Frank E. Kilroe - Santa Anita Race 9 (Scratches and Track Condition N/A):
Old "Scarface," CARACORTADO, has been a revelation since being switched to the grass.  He closed powerfully to win both of his turf appearances, including reeling in the quality The Usual Q.T. to take the Sunshine Millions Turf last time out.  He should give another strong effort this afternoon, but so should FLUKE, who recently scored in the Grade 3 Thunder Road Handicap.  Fluke put in a strong three-wide bid on the final turn that day, and has always threatened to be a top turf runner.  He won the Grade 1 Citation in 2009, and just missed in this race last year.  This will be his third race back since ankle surgery, and he may have slightly better tactical speed than Caracortado.  I'm hoping that Fluke will work out a trip from his inside post. 
It's probably unwise to discount JERANIMO, who defeated Fluke three back, was then a perfect-trip winner of the Grade 2 San Gabriel, and who then went favored over Caracortado in the Sunshine Millions.  I don't think he's as good as he looked in the San Gabriel, but he may not be as flat as he seemed last time.
Selections:  Fluke, Jeranimo, Caracortado

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Quick 'N' Dirty Selections:
Santa Anita Handicap:  Twirling Candy, First Dude, Gladding, Soul Candy
Tom Fool Handicap:  Calibrachoa, Flat Bold, Deputy Daney

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Gotham Stakes - Aqueduct - Race 10 - Scratch #7 Preachintothedevil, #9 Dawly - Track Fast:
STAY THIRSTY, the morning line favorite, is bred to run all day.  By Preakness and Travers winner Bernardini, and a half-brother to long-winded Andromeda's Hero, Stay Thirsty has the pedigree to handle two turns.  But, from what we've seen thus far, Stay Thirsty has been more effective in sprint races.  We can certainly give him a mulligan for his only previous route, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, in which he faced Uncle Mo and Boys At Tosconova, but he still has to go two turns off the layoff and I do wonder if he's better going short.
TOBY'S CORNER won the Whirlaway over this course and distance, but that race was over wet going, and he was pretty late to change leads.  
Perhaps, THE FED EASED can take these on a merry chase from his inside post.  I know it's a big task stretching out for the first time in his first race out of the maiden ranks, but The Fed Eased looked very strong beating special weight foes on January 29.  A half to stakes-placed router Sweet Enticement (a winner at a mile), The Fed Eased, unlike Stay Thirsty, has a mostly sprint-oriented pedigree.  We'll see if he can make an easy lead and have enough left for the real running.
Selections:  The Fed Eased, Toby's Corner, Stay Thirsty 

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Honey Fox Stakes - Gulfstream - Race 10 - Scratch #14 Amazing - Turf Firm:
The filly and mare turf group in South Florida this winter has taken turns beating up on one another.  JUSTAROUNDMIDNIGHT upset PERSUADING, NEVER RETREAT, CHEROKEE QUEEN, TRIP FOR A.J., and SWEETEST SONG in the Marshua's River.  Trip for A. J. beat UNBRIDLED ESSENCE in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf.  Cherokee Queen defeated Never Retreat, Persuading, and MISS BLAKELY in the Suwannee River. 
Perhaps it's time for a new face to come in and wipe the floor with all of them.  AVIATE,  a Juddmonte homebred, trained by Bill Mott, won the first three races of her career in Europe, and was sent off favored in the Group 1 English Oaks.  She's faced better company abroad, adds Lasix for her North American debut, and should get some pace to attack. 
If Aviate isn't ready to fire, perhaps BAY TO BAY will rally off the layoff.  Away since Saratoga, Bay to Bay showed talent as a three-year-old filly, and wouldn't be the biggest surprise in the world.
Selections:  Aviate, Bay to Bay, Never Retreat

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Sunday Quick and Dirt Selections:
Ladies Turf Sprint (Turf Only):  Rose Catherine, Midst, Ahvee's Destiny
Santana Mile:  Kensei, Matto Mondo, Misremembered

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You can check out video analysis of the weekend's big races at the below link:

http://www.drf.com/news/weekend-stakes-preview-videos

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More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.

Best of luck to all.

Virgin Queen More than 1 year ago
" captcha: service otabu-uhhmm..whose otabu and why does he need to be.. nevermind LOL..very good laura VQ
Steve T More than 1 year ago
Dan, We are in agreement that Mr. Commons is a true "under the radar type". Here are a couple of things to consider with him - he ran the fastest downhill of the year in 1:12.14, unheard of for any maiden. The next fastest downhill? Unzip Me last weekend in 1:12.61. The colt he beat in that race, Akkadian, came back and won easily in his next race. The dirt run was almost as impressive, he ran a mile in 1:34.84, the fastest of the meet for any three year old.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
I’m laid up today with a bad wheel (foot), so I haven’t much to do. I suppose I could work on Health and Safety Manuals, but I don’t wanna… Anyway, I handicapped Thursday’s 7th Race from Santa Anita (6.5 F, Downhill Turf) last night, and was curious as to others’ thoughts (Uncle Steve, BSB, Alan, etc.). I see quite a bit of speed in here with D’PENDABLE (#7), SIERRA SPIRIT (#6), ROBIE THE CAT (#5), and TALE OF LUCKNFAME (#4). This race should set up nicely for a horse that can stalk and/or a horse that can close effectively. That’s leaves me with CHIN’N TONIC (#9), DIAMOND GEEZAH (#10), and CELESTIC NIGHT (#1). These three fit the bill. In the case of CHIN’N TONIC, I like the way he closed in his last, getting his final 8th in just over :24 seconds. The turnback from a mile should suit him and he is working nicely coming into this. DIAMOND GEEZAH (#10) has already shown an affinity for this course, he draws wide, and the trainer connections are strong. He keeps the hood on after winning last time out with Blinkers at 9/2. CELESTIC NIGHT (#1) shouldn’t be hampered too much from the one-hole given his off-the-pace style and his come-home times have been pretty good. I’m guessing the odds aren’t going to be too generous on these three, but right now I have my eye on them in this race. Anyone else have any thoughts to share regarding this race?
Laura More than 1 year ago
Dan, Will you be honoring us with your presence at Gulfstream on Saturday? If so, I'll drive down and meet up with you and hopefully, BobC and anyone else in the vicinity can join us. Laura CAPTCHA: Service Otabu - uhhmm..whose Otabu and why does he need to be ...neverrmind.
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Happy Tuesday all... Big Shout out to Jockey DeShawn Parker!! Here is what he did last night at Moutaineer: Race #4 Winner Paid = $10.20 Race #5 Winner Paid = $8.60 Race #6 Winner Paid = $13.20 Race #7 Winner Paid = $3.60 Race #8 Winner Paid = $4.00 Race #10 Winner Paid = $6.40 Won 6 Races on the night with 5 in a ROW!!!!!! That is not an easy thing to do people. The field's were good sized and the win ticket's were ok. Don't be afraid to watch these smaller track's and to wager on them. Value can be found and the trends are there also. Just because it is a Monday or a Tuesday, the game is still on for us horse player's. Good Luck This Week To All !!! PS They are not going to change the result of the SA HCAP. Day's might be given out and Espinoza might be given a fine for his nasty words about the stewards. Cheers Whackymacky Out!!!
Mike A More than 1 year ago
MH01 There was a time you didn't see many fatalities on the turf. However last year in NY I was surprised that they're were more than a few. I don't believe it has anything to do with the courses however. Just the fact that horses today in general aren't as stout as they used to be and I believe the biggest reason is there are many more turf races carded today than in years past. More horses.....more chance of injury. Back in the day there were usually 3 races carded for turf at NYRA tracks. I guess you can figure out how I learned to become patient with my bets. Now there are up to 6 a day. I believe last year the P6 on many days was an all turf affair. It's just in the numbers....sad, but it's part of the game. Mike A
Mike A More than 1 year ago
PGM..... Going to the racetrack for many years, getting to know the folks who work there and seeing their perspective gives me absolutely no qualms about the non DQ of Game On Dude. There are many factors the stewards take into account. Jay Hoveday may think he has a valid point, but in the reality of the race it's like so much smoke. Horses naturally carry wide around the turn. His contention is that Ms. Sutherlands left hand whip caused the horse to veer out thus causing the crowding. I'd like to know how many years he's been watching horses run? For one....Ms. Sutherland did hit GOD once, just as GOD came into the final bend. The horse carried wide....no doubt about it, but no more than almost every horse does when running flat out at that juncture. He went no wider than most, and that tap she gave GOD before the turn didn't cause him to move any further. If anyone really cares to watch, all three horses came wide naturally, no one moved out because they were "pushed". There is absolutely no contact around the bend and when they straightened away. In fact they had already straightened away and started their stretch run when the contact comes from TC, first hitting Setsuko, then Rosario leaning left (probably to get TC to switch leads and causes the bump to GOD. Once straightened away GOD runs a true and straight course to the wire....after being hit 4 times right handed and 4 times left handed. The left hand whipping coming with Setsuko right along side.....No drifting there.....I wonder why. That is why if you notice the stewards kept looking at the stretch run till it was finished.....they wanted to see how GOD finished up. I Believe had GOD run erratically down the lane he would have come down., but he didn't, so the result stood. One thing we must never forget is both JH and MW thought TC was the greatest horse to come down the pick since Spectacular Bid.......folks see what they want to see. I didn't notice if either man said "he wouldn't have won anyway". Regardless.....I said it before and I'll say it again, the stewards made the right call. I agree with you.....Steve, P Ensign et al.......Mike A
bobc More than 1 year ago
WARNING: Completely Off Topic BREAKING NEWS: The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English". In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f".. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter. In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away. By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru. Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas. If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.
TejanoRun More than 1 year ago
Jonah, Couldn't access your notes. I have google account but not one specific to your business so I couldn't login. Instead of a link, can you email me your notes? tejanorun@aol.com Looks like you're heading down the right path, but why did you pick that race? I didn't handicap GP but will review, thought Santa Anita's turf had preferable races. Turf maidens are tough, I think, and certainly from a numbers point of view, there is just not much to go on, and then you've got to deal with pedigree, developing 3yos, longer route in this one, first time, etc. Too fine of a line between Kentucky Reign losing a little ground and Bombaguia finishing closely ahead, based on just this one race. Mike A will tell you that Casino Host finishing second to King Congie on turf vastly outweighs Bombaguia running in a dirt race with Buffum and would be hard to discount in this race. BTW, I use 9 feet as the value of a length. Lengths behind at any given point of call is subjective to a chartcaller's assessment, and sometimes it's off, but you gotta start somewhere.
Alan More than 1 year ago
C, I hope all is well with you! I have been wondering some of the same things after watching many of the Derby contenders race this year. Not that this bunch is necessarily "ho-ho-rrendous", but that they seem much more immature on the track. Perhaps I am giving prior generations more credit than they deserve, but most if not all of this year's Derby contenders act like they are still 2yos. Is it lack of race seasoning? Is it a change in training style/approach? Is this just a bad bunch of 3yos? Uncle Mo is still the "wild card" in the group. He appeared to be so much the best vs. any other 2yo last year, yet we still await Uncle Mo's 1st start as a 3yo...and he'll only get one other race before the Derby. Seattle Slew, as a 2yo Eclipse Award winner, also began his 3yo season in March (I think in a one turn allowance race), but Slew had 3 preps before the Derby. Perhaps my Machen can rebound in the Louisiana Derby and surprise the racing world...and more importantly, impress you?? :-)
Ron B More than 1 year ago
Dan For This weeks race, I would like to make it the 5th race at SA Thurs 10th. Allowance, Optional claiming $62,500 for 4 and up 1 1/8 on the turf. Purse $59,000 Ronb