05/21/2015 12:16PM

Grazen Sky goes long in Snow Chief

Vassar Photography
Grazen Sky, winner of the Silky Sullivan in his last start, will start Saturday in the Snow Chief Stakes at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – It’s a familiar jingle in Southern California – “It pays to own a Cal-bred.” On Saturday at Santa Anita, the question is: Does it pay to wager on one?

Bettors will find plenty of opportunities on the 10-race California Gold Rush card – eight races for California-bred or -sired runners, including five stakes with purses ranging from $125,000 to $200,000.

The $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes (race 8) for 3-year-olds is the centerpiece of the Gold Rush program. Key entrants in the 1 1/8-mile turf race are Grazen Sky and Rocko’s Wheel, both sired by Grazen.

“It could be a good day for Nick Alexander,” noted Grazen Sky’s trainer, Steve Miyadi. Alexander owns and bred Grazen Sky, the winner of the $100,000 Silky Sullivan Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. Alexander also owned and bred Grazen.

There is more. Alexander is the owner and breeder of Sunday Rules, the undefeated Tribal Rule filly who faces Grade 3 winner Harlington’s Rose in the $150,000 Spring Fever Stakes (race 3), a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Sunday Rules figures to try to wire the field.

Other stakes include the $125,000 Fran’s Valentine (race 6), a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares in which Go West Marie is the likely favorite. Three of her recent starts were sprints – two stakes wins and a second in a Grade 3. Can she route? No problem. The last time Go West Marie tried two turns, she won an allowance going away.

The $200,000 Melair Stakes (race 7) is murky. Thermodynamics and Sheer Pleasure are top contenders in the 1 1/16-mile dirt race for 3-year-old fillies. However, Thermodynamics is a turf specialist, and Sheer Pleasure is a sprinter. Perhaps the Melair is ripe for an upset by the improving Barbara Beatrice, sired by Grazen.

The final stakes Saturday is the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes (race 9), which includes the most probable winner on the card. Motown Men romped first off the claim by Ted H. West, followed by a creditable third in a Grade 3. His rivals Saturday include Rousing Sermon, Soi Phet, and Spirit Rules.

As for the Snow Chief, it is wide open. Eleven entered, including Zinvor, who could lay claim to “horse to beat” status, having won both turf routes in which he has run.

Other contenders include the stakes-winning sprinter Richard’s Boy, trying to carry his speed a long way; the improving Chief of Staff; and the stakes-placed Pulmarack. Cardiac, Book Thirty Four, Temple Keys, Neveradoubt, and Over Par also entered.

:: DRF Live: Watch live handicapping analysis of Saturday’s biggest races, starting at 2:00 p.m. Eastern

Key contenders

Grazen Sky (Last 3 Beyers: 79-87-86)

* He has finished first or second in all six starts, including a last-out win at Golden Gate Fields in the Silky Sullivan at one mile. It was his first race on turf and his first around two turns.

“The book says you’re not supposed to throw two new things at them,” Miyadi said. “But it was the next logical spot, and I didn’t want to train him up to the Snow Chief at a mile and an eighth.”

Grazen Sky raced greenly in the stretch, switching to his wrong lead. Miyadi attributes it to immaturity. The colt looked good galloping Thursday on the Santa Anita main track, where he switched leads on cue.

Miyadi said Grazen Sky “does not look like a router,” but he added that “he has a long stride, like most of the Grazens.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 5 Grazen Sky. Trainer Steven Miyadi is 23-1-2-2 with a $0.32 ROI over the past five years in turf routes on the Southern California circuit. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Rocko’s Wheel (Last 3 Beyers: 89-77-73)

He is trained by Phil D’Amato, whose best shot Saturday is earlier with Sunday Rules. Rocko’s Wheel, 2 for 4, has improved with each start, including a big win last out against older on the main track. It was his first route.

Though turf will be new, D’Amato points to his recent grass work alongside a stakes winner.

“I worked him in company with Papacoolpapacool, and I thought he handled it well enough,” said D’Amato. “He’s bred top and bottom for the grass.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 9 Rocko’s Wheel. Trainer Phil D’Amato is 9-4-0-1 with a $5.37 ROI over the past five years going dirt to turf in routes at Santa Anita. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

Zinvor (Last 3 Beyers: 85-84-59)

John Sadler trains Zinvor, who defeated older California-bred allowance foes April 4. The subsequent layoff was by design, Sadler said.

“He’s a small horse, not real big but very willing,” Sadler said. “I wanted the spacing. The minute he won that race, I knew the Snow Chief was the race I wanted to be in.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 2 Richard’s Boy. Trainer Peter Miller is 18-1-0-0 with a $0.92 ROI over the past five years on turf with last-out winners trying a route for the first time. Click for more details. Mike Hogan