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Fast track, tough trips
Can’t remember the last time a 2-year-old maiden ran six furlongs as fast as The Factor in race 4 Sunday. The second-time starter set a Santa Anita record winning by eight and one-quarter lengths in 1:06.98. But first-timer Cook Inlet is one to follow after a super third-place debut.
Cook Inlet, a John Sadler-trained son of Candy Ride, broke well but had no speed. He was far back early, picked up steam into the turn, scraped paint rallying inside, and finished with run. “He traveled good and took everything in stride,” jockey Garrett Gomez said.
Cook Inlet has some learning to do. “You could tell his mind was not quite in the game yet,” Gomez said. “He wanted to play with the pony, things like that. His mind wasn’t quite there.”
Cook Inlet galloped out in front of the field, and figures to move up a ton when he figures out what he is doing. “He’s very promising,” Gomez said.
Arresting Officer and jockey Joe Talamo finished second as the 4-5 favorite in race 5, but he ran better than winner Thirtyfirststreet in the $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes at seven furlongs. Caught wide in a four-way jam while dueling through a hot pace (half-mile in 44.39 seconds), Arresting Officer put away the speed, but got collared by perfect-trip closer Thirtyfirststreet.
In race 6, the unseasoned Malibu Pier was making her first start in a graded stakes, the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at seven furlongs. When the gates opened, she got squeezed from both sides, shuffled back, and found herself dead last.
“I don’t know if it cost me the win or not, because the other filly (winner Switch) got loose turning for home by a long ways,” Gomez said. “It probably cost (Malibu Pier) three-four-five lengths betting pinched like that. She was able to overcome it, and kept trying.”
Malibu Pier rallied through traffic on the turn, split rivals in the lane, and narrowed the gap late to finish second in a terrific effort. She galloped out in front of Switch. Five starts into her career, Carla Gaines-trained Malibu Pier has a bright future indeed.
The main track was listed “good” for race 1 and “fast” the remainder of the card. Even with fast times (track records by The Factor and 1:19.70 Malibu winner Twirling Candy), Gomez gave the surface a thumbs-up.
“They’re going in it quite away, they’re moving across it but it’s not hard,” Gomez said. “It’s still a little bit of an “off” track. It doesn’t look like a 1:19-track. What it looks like, and the way they’re traveling, does not compare to the times.”
Opening day at Santa Anita, fast horses won fast races. After more than three grueling years on synthetic, it is about time.
Yes, I'll remember some of the winners on opening day. Let's see ... The Factor, oh, okay he'll come back to beat me and pay a whopping $2.60 next time. Oh, and Twirling Candy. Yes, that looks like a tremendous $2.80 mutuel next time he beats me. Oh, yes. Then there is Sidney's Candy. He'll no doubt blow up the tote board the next time he wins. Heck, he may launch another whopping $4.40 daily double the way he did on opening day.
Whiners. What a bunch of whiners in this blog. They forget that Santa Anita consistently sends its horses to win some of the best races in the country and the world. Better remember the name of some of the winners on opening day because they are coming back to beat you. No second guessing here.
Finally back to California racing as it should be ... speed, best horse wins ... not the flubber to help confuse the races.
Well, I guess Baffert and Mr. "Z" are very happy with the new track. Isn't it wonderful? The Santa Anita six-furlong track record is now held by a maiden-breaking 2 year-old. Sheesh! You talk about Turf Paradise West? You know what boggles the mind? How can the track believe everything is now so wonderful with the surface they have in place? Do they really believe those of us who bet on races are gonna celebrate increased take-out rates and a track that gives us a bunch of $3 winners riden by Rosario, Bejarano and Talamo every day? Hey, trainers ... just crank up your speed horses, slap on some blinkers and give a leg up to Rosario, Bejarano or Talamo and you'll be cashing. What's that? Your horse is a stretch runner? I hear Calder is nice this time of year.
For three years racing fans in Southern California have been lectured by some back East ... that to be truly great, a horse must show brilliance, reflected by fast times and large margins of victory, something the top synthetic horses do not frequently display; to paraphrase Brad, the "fast" synth horses rarely run really fast. What I find ironic is that in the pre-synth days, the common critique of California racing made by some ... was that California horses ran fast times but they lacked class. Their retort to the fast times run by California horses was that anybody could run fast on "freeways." I am quite interested to see how the Eastern critics of synthetic racing will react to days like today at the "new" dirt Santa Anita. Will they celebrate performances like those put up by The Factor, Switch, Sidney's Candy and Twirling Candy/Smiling Tiger since they fulfill the standards they provided when arguing against the greatness of synthetic horses like Zenyatta, or will it be a quick return to the "lack of class" argument? Personally, I appreciate synthetic racing and the horses that perform over it, but it was good to see "fast horses winning fast races." And, there were no safety issues.
It's great to see the change back to a dirt track. Now, the track superintendent has to make adjustments to it, before there are any casualties. If not, the potential for disaster is lurking around the corner. Not to take away from The Factor and Twirling Candy, but what kind of times do you think we'll see when the "Big Guns" start their campaigns? Slow it down, level the playing field and maybe we won't have the negative comparisons of East Coast, West Coast racing.
The track was a joke. Back to quarter horse style California racing the way they like it out there I guess. Shake everybody up out of the gate and hold on.