03/03/2012 11:59AM

Big 'Cap Weekend!

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It's an exciting weekend of racing!

Let's take a look at today's three Grade 1 races at Santa Anita.

LAS VIRGENES STAKES - SANTA ANITA - RACE 9:

I'll take a stab with a price runner, #6 MADE TO LOVE HER (12-1 morning line).  The favorites, RENEESGOTZIP and EDEN'S MOON have shown talent, but must answer some questions.  The former, a quick daughter of City Zip, must stretch her speed around two turns for the first time while Eden's Moon missed the Santa Ysabel on January 28 due to a fever. Both horses like to race on the pace and there's a chance they may battle hard for early supremacy.  If that happens, Made to Love Her could be charging late.  The winner of the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes over the Hollywood cushion track last year, albeit against a weak field, Made to Love Her did win her maiden over this surface three back.  Although no match for Reneesgotzip in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez on January 15, she rallied widest over a speed-favoring surface that afternoon.  She must improve drastically to win this tough heat, but is worth a chance at a price for top rider Rafael Bejarano and trainer James Kasparoff (trained Bob Black Jack to graded success).  

Selections:  MADE TO LOVE HER, RENEESGOTZIP, EDEN'S MOON

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FRANK E. KILROE MILE - SANTA ANITA - RACE 10:

JERANIMO took the measure of MR COMMONS in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile over this course and distance on October 8 and should be a better price than the John Shirreffs-trained runner in the Kilroe.  After winning the Grade 2 Citation Handicap, Jeranimo faltered to second as the beaten favorite in the Grade 2 San Gabriel on January 16.  In that race, Jeranimo bobbled at the start and then was caught up in a cat-and-mouse game with another pace runner for the first half-mile.  Once Jeranimo asserted control, he was immediately confroted by The Usual Q.T.  After Jeranimo put The Usual Q.T. away, he was faced with a razor-sharp closer in Norvsky and just couldn't hold off that one's strong stretch kick.  Jeranimo may be a bit better with a target and he could find himself sitting off COMPARI and JIMMY SIMMS in the opening stages of this race.  He should get the jump on Mr. Commons turning for home and I like the cutback to a mile. 

SELECTIONS:  JERANIMO, WILLYCONKER, MR. COMMONS

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SANTA ANITA HANDICAP - SANTA ANITA - RACE 11:

It's a big field for the Big 'Cap and several have a chance.  We'll find out how good ULTIMATE EAGLE is this afternoon as the runaway winner of the Grade 2 Strub Stakes (in his first start on dirt) figures to face a bit more pace heat in this spot.  It's hard not to root for a horse like Ultimate Eagle, who overcame a near-fatal bout of colic to become a Grade 1 winner.  He proved that ten furlongs wasn't an issue when taking the Hollywood Derby on grass last year and has shown an ability to rate and finish when he absolutely must do so.  In the Strub, he battled odds-on favorite Tapitzar into defeat before opening up on the field for good late on the backstretch.  He should be on or near the lead here and could be the one to catch when the real racing begins.

SELECTIONS:  ULTIMATE EAGLE, NORVSKY, RON THE GREEK

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Here are some quick and dirty selections for some of the other major stakes races:

Top Flight:  IT'S TRICKY, LOVE AND PRIDE, DELIGHTFUL MARY

Tom Fool:  EMCEE, CALEB'S POSSE, CALIBRACHOA

Gotham:  HANSEN, MY ADONIS, KING AND CRUSADER

Canadian Turf:  MUTUAL TRUST, LITTLE MIKE, DOUBLES PARTNER

Joe Hernandez (Sunday):  MR GRUFF, GIG HARBOR, MENSA HEAT

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For a more detailed analysis, please check out the video previews that Mike Beer and I recorded at the following link:

http://www.drf.com/events/gotham-stakes-aqueduct

http://www.drf.com/events/santa-anita-handicap-santa-anita

http://www.drf.com/news/gulfstream-park-little-mike-tries-make-it-five-straight-canadian-turf

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

Have a great weekend.