04/04/2014 9:03AM

Brad Free's Santa Anita handicapping notebook April 4


Thursday, April 3 review


On a relatively quiet Thursday, low-profile trainer Javier Sierra served up a lesson related to workouts. Rather, it was a lack of workouts.
Sierra started first-timer La Quillotana in race 1, and comebacker Rossi Reserve in race 6. Based on conventional analysis, neither could be supported due to a lack of current form and deficiency in workouts. But low-profile trainers such as Sierra sometimes defy convention.

La Quillotana previously was a vet scratch March 13. Since then, she had showed only one recorded workout. It was a teeny three-furlong drill (37.80) on March 30. Her previous recorded work was back on March 6. No way she could be fit, right? Wrong.

La Quillotana broke running under apprentice Drayden Van Dyke, pressed three wide, broke it open into the lane, and won by more than five lengths “ridden out.” It was a good performance by a maiden-30 first-timer with only one recorded work during the previous month. She earned a 55 Beyer and returned $10.60.

Sierra also started Rossi Reserve in race 6, her first race in nearly three months. Her work pattern also was light – a half-mile on Feb. 10, three furlongs on March 21, and five furlongs on March 30. Three works in nearly three months.

“She had been working really well in the morning,” Sierra said afterward in a televised post-race interview.

Oh, right.

Rossi Reserve won the $12,500 claiming race by more than six lengths, returned $14, and was claimed by Bill Spawr. Good claim. She earned a 74 Beyer.

And it was good lesson for handicappers. The next time Sierra starts a runner that appears short on works – pay no mind.

The racing surface Thursday was very fast, and fair.


Two comebackers returned Thursday in claiming races who were ineligible to be claimed by virtue of CHRB rule 1634. Both ran well, neither won.

Sweetrayofsunshine pressed a fast pace in race 2, a filly-mare $25,000 claiming race, made the lead into the lane, then got worn down by racing-fit Clearly Confused. Good comeback by Sweetrayofsunshine, albeit a losing one as the 3-2 favorite. She earned a 79 Beyer and should be fitter for her next start.

Mahalo Princess also pressed a fast pace in race 6, a filly-mare $12,500 claiming race. She ran out gas in the lane and finished a distant third. Okay comeback, nothing more. She earned a 57 Beyer.Sweetrayofsunshine and Mahalo Princess were the 11th and 12th starters this meet to return in claiming races using the no-claim waiver. None has won.


The race-7 feature was a first-condition turf route for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles. On paper, the race had no speed. It unfolded differently on the track. Jockey Tyler Baze sent Passionate Diva to the lead. And then jockey Corey Nakatani used Feline Forum early, and put her on the pacesetter’s flank.

On the backstretch, they were joined three wide by Somethingabouther and Brice Blanc. A race that had no speed turned into a three-way pace battle. The half-mile was 45.81, six furlongs in 1:09.91. The front-runners had no shot.

Meanwhile, leading Rafael Bejarano lagged near the back on Ginger Tap, and they rallied wide into the lane and won going away for trainer Neil Drysdale with an ideal setup.

“There was a strong pace, even though it didn’t look like that on paper,” Drysdale told Santa Anita publicity after. “She was able to get a good position due to that.  I think the farther the better with her, moving forward.”

The tough-luck filly in the race was Sweet Red Cat, badly blocked in the lane before finishing last in a performance that was entirely inconclusive. Have to give her a look next time.


* Clearly Confused ($6.20) became the meet’s first four-time winner, taking race 2 going away. She had something left at the wire. Trainer Richard Baltas claimed her for $25,000. She earned an 81 Beyer, and should be live on the raise.

* The fastest win Thursday based on Beyer Figures was posted by Our Pure Creation ($9), 3 1/2-length winner of race 3. She went six furlongs in the N2X in 1:09.02 and earned an 88 Beyer

Joe Talamo busted a 33-race losing streak on Mavericks Gun ($7) in race 4. The $20,000 maiden claimer won by 5 3/4 lengths in a quick 1:22.50. He also earned an 81 Beyer, and should be live next time in a claiming race for non-winners of two, or maiden-claiming starter allowance.

Horses to watch

Trainer: A.C. Avila
Last race: April 3, 1st
Finish: 2nd by 5 1/4
Beyer: 40
A first-time starter in a maiden-30 sprint, this filly was undoubtedly best. She walked out of gate to spot her field 15 lengths while racing greenly, picked up momentum on the turn and finished strongly. She galloped out in front, and would have won with a clean start.

Trainer: Karen Headley
Last race: April 3, 4th
Finish: 2nd by 5 3/4
Beyer: 68
Favored in a maiden-20 sprint, this gelding had a bad trip. He was trapped behind horses, had to wait for room on the turn, and sputtered late. It was not a great effort, and he might not be much, but a bettor will have to use him next time vs. similar.

Friday, April 4 preview


Race 1 on Friday might influence one’s opinion of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, which will be run Saturday. Bettors trying to beat Oaks favorites Ria Antonia and Fashion Plate may settle on Honey Ride (this handicapper’s top selection).

Honey Ride scored a decisive maiden win last out over a filly that returns Friday in race 1. If the last-out maiden win by Honey Ride was legitimate, then the filly she beat, Kool Kat, should be formidable against maidens.

Kool Kat, who finished 2 3/4 lengths behind Honey Ride last out, is the 5-2 second favorite in the Friday opener. The 6-5 favorite is Thisonesforricky, a 5-year-old mare making her eighth career start. A win by Kool Kat would validate the form of Honey Ride.


The scratch of Chokecherymary from race 6 allows also-eligible Theatre Star to draw in. That is good news for Theatre Star’s new connections (owner Glen Hill Farm, trainer Tom Proctor, jockey Gary Stevens). It is bad news for the filly’s rivals in the N2X turf route.

Theatre Star has won three in a row, including two big recent scores at Gulfstream Park. The daughter of War Front was purchased privately by Glen Hill following her latest, and if she stays out of the way of front-runner Viva Carina, Theatre Star could make her California debut a winning one with an up-front trip.

The race-6 favorite is Moulin de Mougin, N1X winner last out. There is little separating Moulin de Mougin and Theatre Star however, and horizontal bettors should probably use both.


Sidebar is the 5-2 favorite in race 7, a N1X sprint for fillies and mares. She crushed starter allowance foes last time by more than four lengths, and enters with the field’s highest Beyer (87).

But cleverly named comebacker My Sweet Addiction (by Candy Ride, out of Healthy Addiction) has been working like she means business for trainer Marty Jones, and the well-bred filly should come back firing. She certainly has the pedigree to be a good one.

My Sweet Addiction, 4, was sired by Tiznow. She was produced by top-class mare Healthy Addiction, winner of the Grade 1 Santa Margarita in 2006, the Grade 2 Lady’s Secret in 2005 and 2006, and Grade 2 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar in 2006. Trained by John Sadler and owned by Pam Ziebarth, Healthy Addiction won 10 races and more than $1 million. Her broodmare career has been modest.

My Sweet Addiction is her third foal and second winner. Healthy Addiction’s daughter Tiz an Addiction, also by Tiznow, won 1 of 9. As for lightly raced My Sweet Addiction, she finished second to subsequent stakes winner Midnight Lucky in her debut, and won a maiden race in her most recent start June 29 at Hollywood Park.

The feature race Thursday is her first start back. She is live.


Race 4
He is a maiden facing winners, but LAKOTA ROAD (#5, 3-1) has been battling tougher special-weight foes than the maiden-40 starter rivals he meets in this 1 1/8-mile turf route. Leading jockey Rafael Bejarano rides Lakota Road, the fastest horse in the field.

Race 8
STAKE HUNTER (#1, 8-1) has more speed than it appears, and shortens up from a better-than-looked sixth-place route effort. Scratched from an off-turf race Feb. 28, he returns in a turf sprint for California-bred maidens, and is poised for an upset first start back.