02/08/2010 1:00AM

Richard's Kid aided by track profile


LEXINGTON, Ky. - There are a number of angles to consider while handicapping Sunday's Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap on the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. An analysis of form cycles, surface switches, track bias, and the likely pace scenario might lead you to the winner.

Furthest Land won his first three races on synthetic surfaces, including a $44.60 upset in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. It wasn't surprising to see that he was made a heavy favorite in the Grade 2 San Pasqual at Santa Anita when he returned from a two-month rest. Unfortunately for his supporters, he tired and finished last in that race.

Will Furthest Land rebound? If so, he will be a formidable contender in this race. If not, he could just as easily finish off the board again. He ran two consecutive huge races when he earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure in his win in the Kentucky Cup Classic, followed by a 105 Beyer in his Breeders' Cup triumph. His Beyers weren't nearly as high prior to those wins, and the 86 Beyer he earned in the San Pasqual was only slightly lower than his typical numbers earned prior to those two fast races. His lack of consistent strong form and the likelihood he will be offered at an underlaid price make him a less attractive betting risk than some of the other contenders. I will see if I can beat him.

I'm usually partial to horses with early speed, but that hasn't been the right running style most of the time in two-turn races at Santa Anita. Closers have won more than their fair share of those races, and there is enough early speed in this field to flatter the chances of the right late runner. Richard's Kid is the horse most likely to benefit. In his last three starts, he was 10th of 12 twice at the first call and eighth of 10 once. He rallied to win the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar three races ago, finished a close third here in the Grade 1 Goodwood, then finished in midpack in sixth here last time in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic. The class drop and the likelihood of a favorable track bias and pace scenario make him the horse to beat, and my selection.

The contenders I like best in the exotics are Marsh Side, Mast Track, and Nownownow.

Marsh Side has been tackling strong company. He raced against Grade 1 or Group 1 competition in eight of his last nine races. He won the Grade 1 Canadian International, and finished second in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap. The concern is that he is a turf specialist, but it is encouraging to see that he has won two of four starts on synthetic surfaces. He will be a serious threat on the drop in class if he is able to match his turf form as he makes his first start on Santa Anita's synthetic surface.

Mast Track ran a dull race three starts ago when he finished last, 19 3/4 lengths behind Richard's Kid, in the Pacific Classic. But he lost the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap by only a nose four races ago, and won the Grade 3 Native Diver last time. He will be dangerous if he matches that form in this race. He makes his first start for trainer John Shirreffs.

Nownownow finished a contending third in the San Pasqual in his return from a 10-month layoff. He showed that he likes this track when he won the Grade 2 San Fernando last year, and he continues to train impressively.

Bim Bam suited to Gulfstream turf

The $125,000 Hallandale Beach, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream, has the potential to be a good betting race. Horses with early and tactical speed have had an edge in turf routes at that track.

Interactif won the Grade 3 With Anticipation at Saratoga, and the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland. He finished a contending third last time, in the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. One of his better efforts would probably win this race, but he might not be set for a top try while returning from a two-month break in this ungraded stakes. Low odds would tempt me to look elsewhere.

I will give the call to Bim Bam, who has the right running style and has been consistent. Cat Park, Asphalt, and Lucas Brady deserve consideration in the exotics.