03/30/2014 10:43AM

Brad Free's Santa Anita handicapping notebook for Sunday, March 30


Saturday, March 29, review

Nonstop wagering value was offered throughout the Saturday card at Santa Anita. All one needed was to find the right horses. It was not easy. Favorites went 0 for 9, and the pick six was not hit. The single-day carryover into Sunday totaled $92,562.

A scattered review:

Hot trainer

Art Sherman is becoming famous due to California Chrome. Bettors know Sherman as simply a hot trainer. Debut filly Big Break ($7.80) crushed a $50,000 maiden claimer (race 1) for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 7 3/4 lengths and giving Sherman his seventh win from 23 starters, including four of his last eight. His next local starter is Fourthornsnoroses in race 6 Thursday.

As for Big Break, she ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.02 and earned a 67 Beyer Speed Figure. She was claimed by Steve Knapp and, on paper, was worth the money. It will be interesting to see if Knapp can do anything with her.

Big Break was sired by Mr. Big, an allowance-caliber son of Dynaformer who won two of nine for owner George Krikorian before being retired. Mr. Big has two named foals, and Big Break was his first starter.

The race 1 favorite Roman Wild was bumped and was off slowly, finishing a distant third. A generous assessment would be to call her effort inconclusive. Probably have to give her another chance.

Overbet trainer

Races 2 and 7 were examples of drastic undervalue on some trainers. Simon Callaghan is slipping into that category. No doubt he is a top trainer, but bettors seemingly expect him to work miracles. He does not.

Pillow was 9-5 in her U.S. debut for Callaghan in race 2. She finished last. The allowance-caliber Bee Brave was 2-1 for some reason in race 7, a stakes. She also was off the board. Since Dec. 26, including three at Golden Gate Fields, Callaghan is 2 for 11 with favorites. It’s a small sample, but recent anecdotal evidence indicates Callaghan runners are being overestimated.

By the way, Callaghan trains the early favorite for the Santa Anita Oaks on April 5, Fashion Plate.

Debut smasher

Indian Safari, a 3-year-old filly by win-early sire Indian Charlie (16 percent first out), dazzled in race 3, a six-furlong maiden sprint. She set fast fractions while hounded from the outside, shook clear into the lane, and rolled by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:09.56. She earned a surprisingly low 80 Beyer. From a visual perspective, the performance was better than the number. Indian Safari is trained by Mark Glatt.

As for even-money favorite Front Range (by Giant’s Causeway, produced by Grade 1 winner Lakeway), she merely ran around the track. She might be a bust or might deserve another chance. It depends on her odds. Bob Baffert trainees are rarely overlays.

Classy Ava finished well for second for a trainer, Peter Eurton, who rarely wins first out. Classy Ava will be a top contender next out in a maiden special weight.


Who said Baffert winners are never overlays? Secretsatmidnight went to post at 17.70-1 in race 6 and won the N1X allowance route by almost three lengths as the second-longest shot in the field. He was stretching out over a surface on which speed is always effective around two turns.

Secretsatmidnight earned a 94 Beyer; pacesetter Got Even finished second. There was no movement from the back.

It has been almost five years since a Baffert winner paid more than Secretsatmidnight ($37.40). One has to go all the way back to 2009 at Del Mar to find a higher-odds Baffert winner. That was Pacific Classic winner Richard’s Kid at $50.80.


Going into race 7, Magic Mark looked like the right horse. The improving California-bred was facing open company after sharp wins over statebreds. Magic Mark, however, was never comfortable inside and behind horses. He pulled, never relaxed, and sputtered. He is a better N1X than that race indicates but apparently needs an in-the-clear trip.

Distance test

Majestic Harbor was in uncharted territory while racing 1 1/2 miles in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup. Trainer Sean McCarthy wanted to learn if he had a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Marathon. The answer is yes, he does.

Majestic Harbor was forwardly placed in fourth position, broke it open on the final turn, and won by three lengths. He basically reproduced the Grade 2-caliber form he established in shorter races. That’s all it took to knock off second-level types in the Tokyo City. Majestic Harbor ran like he had trained, according to jockey Tyler Baze.

“He’s been training really forwardly in the mornings,” Baze said. “We worked him twice in blinkers. We wanted to keep his mind on business, and it really changed him. It was unbelievable the way he worked, so I was expecting him to run big today.”

Majestic Harbor wears blinkers when he trains, not when he runs. He will be a fixture in marathon dirt races the rest of the year. And his connections might be tempted by the $500,000 Brooklyn on June 7 at Belmont Park. That 1 1/2-mile dirt race offers a big purse at a distance that suits Majestic Harbor. His chief rival in the Brooklyn would be Micromanage, the winner of the Skip Away Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Majestic Harbor earned a 93 Beyer in the Tokyo City; Micromanage earned a 103 Beyer in the Skip Away.

The dull favorite in the Tokyo City was Blueskiesnrainbows, off the board at 2-1. There was plenty advance warning about him in this space Saturday. He was prepping for a bigger race, and his recent works were poor.

The racetrack Saturday played normally. That means front-runners and pressers won everything on dirt. The turf rails were at 8 feet, and no surprise that two of the three turf-route winners rallied from the back.

Horses to watch

Mark Glatt
Last race: March 29, 3rd
Finish: 1st by 3 1/4
Beyer: 80
This 3-year-old filly by Indian Charlie put on a powerful display of speed in winning her debut like a potential stakes filly. She was hounded through a fast pace, won clear, and can go right up the ladder.

Trainer: Peter Eurton
Last race: March 29, 3rd
Finish: 2nd by 3 1/4
Beyer: 72
Maidens from this stable typically race into condition, so this runner-up finish was much better than expected. A daughter of Old Fashioned, she should improve.

Trainer: Vladimir Cerin
Last race: March 29, 6th
Finish: 5th by 7 1/4
Beyer: 81
In a main-track route race dominated by the 1-2-3 pacesetters, this comebacker from Woodbine ran better than it looked. He trailed by 16 lengths but narrowed the gap late in a race that looked like nothing more than a practice run.

Sunday, March 30, preview

Race 3, hot trainer

John Sadler is 7 for 8 the past week (Moone’s My Name on Saturday the latest). Sadler is favored to continue the streak when he drops back-class Carbonite in for a $10,000 claim tag in race 3.

Carbonite, a two-time stakes winner and competitive recently in the $32-40k claiming ranks, has lost his speed. But he meets a low-level field filled with suspect front-runners. The race should fall apart; Carbonite should win at a short price. Carbonite is a favorite this handicapper is not interested in betting on, or against. Translation: pass.

Pick six

New money into the pick six Sunday should top $500,000 as bettors chase the $92,562 carryover. Below is a closer look at key races.

Race 4, leg 1
Want to single a horse early in the sequence? Perhaps yes, after watching the start-to-finish video of Tommy’s Stylin, third in his career debut (Santa Anita, March 6, race 5).

He was slow from the gate, not asked for speed, kept wide, lost ground every step, and finished with run. It was the ideal prep for a maiden 3-year-old with above-average ability. The challenge Sunday is stretching from a turf sprint to 1 1/8 miles.

Tommy’s Stylin, the 2-1 favorite, looks up to the challenge. Bred and owned by John Liviakis, it won’t be a surprise if Tommy’s Stylin opens up short in the betting. Liviakis has a history of backing his horses at the windows, enough to dent the pools. If the Melody Conlon-trained colt gets any betting attention at all, consider him super-live.

Small-sized tickets will consider Tommy’s Stylin a potential single.

Race 5, leg 2
It was a mistake not giving Tribal Dress more credit in the Daily Racing Form handicapping analysis. She certainly is a contender in the $12.5k claiming sprint for fillies and mares, along with Holiday N Newport, Funny Gal, and Tiz Vegas.

Race 6, leg 3
Bertrane is 6-1 and worth chasing once more, as he stretches out and drops in class. Big Medicine Man drops from maiden special weight to maiden $50,000 for the first time. He is the favorite.

But a longshot to consider is Fourth Generation, whose sixth-place finish last out was probably better than it looks (Santa Anita, Feb. 7, race 5).

On the far turn of the turf route, he spooked and steadied when a rival blew past on the outside. Fourth Generation lost momentum, dropped back sharply, but then raced evenly for the remainder of the race. He made a run, sort of.

Fourth Generation’s trainer, Marty Jones, has a long history of upsets, and Jones is taking every available weight allowance in the turf route. The colt gets 8 pounds for facing older, another 4 pounds entered for $40,000 claiming instead of $50,000, and 5-pound bug boy Drayden Van Dyke. That is 17 pounds of allowance, and a weight assignment of just 107.

And if Fourth Generation improves off his first turf route, dropping slightly in class, he might give Bertrane and Big Medicine Man all they can handle.

Race 7, leg 4
The Santana Mile is simple because there are three “must-uses” in the pick six. Fury Kapcori is the 7-5 favorite off two impressive allowance wins, Appealing Tale will set the pace as far as he can, and Cat Burglar has trained like gangbusters for an ambitious leap from N1X to stakes. One caveat is that Cat Burglar always works well.

Fury Kapcori benefitted last time from a pronounced speed bias. Handicappers who downgrade the highly rated win due to the bias will get no argument from here. As for Appealing Tale, he is 2 for 2 since being gelded and is undeniably the horse to catch.

Race 8, leg 5
Power Ped is a single at 4-1.

Race 9, leg 6
Good luck.