10/21/2009 11:00PM

Pick six: Two favorites to go against


ARCADIA, Calf. - A $10,000 claiming sprint that was split in two (races 3 and 6) will challenge handicappers playing the Oak Tree at Santa Anita pick six on Friday.

The low-level races are problematic for two reasons - the anti-speed nuances of Pro-Ride, and the poker game of claiming.

In race 3, 5-2 favorite No Money No Love looks like the controlling speed. But there is one big problem. That is, no front-runner this meet has wired the field at seven furlongs.

On an unbiased surface, All Money No Love would be gone. And while he remains the most likely winner (he drops from a race that produced three next-out winners), the uncomplimentary track profile might be reason to consider the race 3 favorite something less than a "sure thing."

Race 6 is no easier, although contender No Grande is expected to scratch (check late changes Friday). If he comes out, the choice becomes Stand Tall, who drops from $25,000 claiming all the way to the bottom.

The trainer of Stand Tall, Julio Canani, was asked to explain the drop.

"The horse that beat him lost for $10,000 at Fairplex, and you couldn't find him next time for $12,500," Canani said. He was referring to Engine Sixty Nine, who finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Stand Stall on Oct. 1, then returned to finish fourth next out.

The reasoning makes some sense, even if Stand Tall was competitive in summer while racing at higher levels ($16,000-$20,000 claiming). But even if the explanation is correct, it appears Stand Tall has lost a step since summer.

The bottom line is the Friday pick six sequence is very tough. And it could produce a double carryover into Saturday, particularly if the favorites in races 3 and 6 are as vulnerable as they look.