01/28/2010 12:00AM

Red Sun should provide free space in pick six

Email

ARCADIA, Calif. - The handicapping notebook is full again, with stuff like this . . .

* The $1.8 million Sunshine Millions for California- and Florida-breds is Saturday at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park, but the best California-bred on the Santa Anita program is stuck in an allowance. Red Sun, a crushing winner of two straight, stands out in race 9, a first-condition turf sprint. Low odds, likely winner, pick-six single. Any questions?

* Is The Usual Q.T. a cinch in the Sunshine Millions Classic, race 8? Of course not. His six-race win streak is all turf; he is unproven on synthetic. Secondly, he must catch fast front-runner Compari, winner of four straight. The knock on Compari is only 2 of the first 43 route races on Pro-Ride (through Wednesday) were won leading at every call.

* The $1 Magna 5 returns Saturday. A quick review of the initial Magna 5 one year ago illustrates the wager's appeal. The odds of the five winners were 19-1, 5-1, 6-5, 2-5, and 11-1. Despite two "free spaces," the wager returned more than $26,000. Want a "free pass" Saturday? It is Soldier's Dancer in race 10 at Gulfstream, fourth leg of the Magna 5.

* Handicappers found a friend this week in the new board of the California Thoroughbred Trainers. A Jan. 27 CTT press release stated the newly elected board "will be seeking the replacement of the currently mandated synthetic surfaces with newly designed and composed natural surfaces." Good stand, from a legitimate horsemen's organization.

* Department of Oops: Two winning tickets were sold on the Jan. 23 Aqueduct pick six, each worth $190,629 after a two-day carryover. The winning bettors' hearts may have skipped a beat hearing the last race call by announcer John Imbriale. As Picnic Rock ($18) drew out, Imbriale said, ". . . and there's gonna be a huge carryover." Well, not quite. The winner was covered. No harm. Everyone is entitled to an occasional screw-up, even a good track announcer.

* Moments after Winslow Homer won the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 23 at Gulfstream, the text message screen lit up with this instant analysis from an observer. "Final quarter in 26.40 . . . I didn't smell any roses." The person sending the text is right. The Holy Bull was a bad race, and it looks like a soft group of 3-year-olds in Florida.

* Meanwhile in California, a potential Derby colt finished second in race 7 Wednesday at Santa Anita. Setsuko rallied from behind a slow pace, drifted out from the whip into the lane which allowed the winner to squirt clear, then narrowed the gap to miss by a half-length. At nine furlongs, he was only getting warmed up. Already proven on synthetic, Setsuko can switch to Pro-Ride on Feb. 27 in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. How good is Setsuko? Find out in a month.

* Speaking of 3-year-olds, you have to wonder if 2-for-2 sprinter Tiz Chrome is vulnerable Feb. 6 when he stretches to 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Tiz Chrome could not get past his workout target in a team drill Monday, and, despite his pedigree (by Tiznow), there remains doubt if he really wants to go long.

* The $60,000 Leroidesanimaux is merely an overnight stakes, but the mile turf race is as important as three graded stakes Feb. 6. The likely starters include Grade 1 winner Fluke, Grade 2 winner Battle of Hastings, and throw-out-his-last start Blue Chagall. Good race, good field.

* Santa Anita resumes its free online betting contest Winvivor on Feb. 6. Indications are Las Virgenes favorite Blind Luck will be one of the most popular horses on Day 1 of the contest, which requires players pick one horse a day to win a race. The first Winvivor contest (www.santaanita.com) lasted all of five days; the $2,500 prize was shared by seven players.

* Did you know this? Win, place, and show betting slips purchased at Santa Anita are printed with the actual name of the horse, along with the program number. Very cool. Of course, if the horse wins, the ticket will be cashed. And if it loses, what good is it anyway except for tax records?

* As it turns out, John Shirreffs does train a Horse of the Year, after all. Flashy looker Scenic Blast, 2009 Australian Horse of the Year, has arrived at Hollywood Park after he bled in a race in Hong Kong. A white-faced sprinter with conspicuous stockings, Scenic Blast is expected to get a freshening away from the track before he resumes training. Comeback? When was the last time the Green Flash at Del Mar, a turf sprint, attracted a Horse of the Year?

* It is about time someone from out of town finally wised up on the Santa Anita Handicap. Trainer Mark Casse told Daily Racing Form's Mary Rampellini that Pool Play will prep Saturday at Sam Houston, then ship for the $750,000 million Big Cap on March 6. Pool Play is no killer (3 for 13), but he runs all day and will face an ordinary Big Cap cast. That assumes, of course, none of the Big Cap starters names begin with the letter "Z."

* Though it is only January, Hollywood Park-based trainer Walther Solis is already looking forward to spring. No fewer than 16 2-year-olds have begun training with Solis. More are on the way.

* It is custom to knock bad rides. But here's something new. If you want to see a terrific ride by a young jockey, take a look at the ride by Silvio Amador on Streets of Heaven, a $10,000 claiming sprinter. Amador, 28, did everything right - sensed a slow pace, moved early, waited patiently behind horses, and finished with strength. Nice ride.