02/19/2013 3:19PM

Santa Anita: Pick 6 carryover, uncertain forecast add spice to Thursday card

Benoit & Associates
Bright Thought is the lone speed in the race-5 feature, whether is is run on turf or dirt.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Santa Anita bettors aiming at the $113,777 pick-six carryover on Thursday might wait until the storm expected early this week blows through and late changes are announced before handicapping the sequence.

Three races in the pick six are scheduled for turf. Rain could influence the conditions of those races, including a 1 1/4-mile race with a novel alternative for distance depending on track condition.

After he monitored the forecast, racing secretary Rick Hammerle recognized rain could jeopardize the race-5 allowance.

“The turf is okay, it’s getting across the dirt surface with our unique hill,” Hammerle said.

Santa Anita grass races at 1 1/4 miles begin on the hill and require horses to cross the dirt track before entering the main turf oval. Negotiating a wet dirt crossing adds unnecessary risk.

Hammerle weighed the options.

“We’re just trying to think ahead to keep the race on the turf, so we called everybody and asked: Would you run on turf at a mile and one-eighth?” Hammerle explained. “That is option number one. Option number two is a mile and one-quarter on dirt.”

After speaking with horsemen, Hammerle added a qualifier to the race conditions: “In the event this race stays on the turf but the hillside turf course is unable to be used for a mile and one-quarter start, this race will be run at a mile and one-eighth on turf.”

“The smart thing is that they want to keep the race intact, and I’m okay with that,” trainer Mike Puype said, though he prefers recent maiden winner Toruk Makto try the longer trip. “I’d like to do a mile and a quarter, because if this horse can do it, he surely would be a horse for the distance races this summer at Hollywood Park.”

If the race is shortened to 1 1/8 miles, it would begin with a short run over the main track. That is not normally a concern. If the race stays on turf, most of the nine entrants are expected to run regardless of distance.

That includes potential lone speed Bright Thought, a front-running turf winner Feb. 3 in a one-mile starter allowance under jockey Rafael Bejarano. Longer distance is not an issue, according to trainer Jorge Gutierrez.

“I think he can go a mile and a half, to tell the truth,” Gutierrez said. “The way he did [a mile] the other day, he did it quite easy. Bejarano had a ton of horse left.”

Bright Thought could be loose on the lead regardless of surface. He finished first in two of three dirt races on the East Coast before returning to California and winning on turf. Bright Thought can wire the field if he holds off Toruk Makto, whose improvement Puype attributes to removal of blinkers.

Other entrants in the race-5 allowance include McAllister Boys, Rintoo, Robbie’s War, Saint Loup, Sebastian Flyte, Te Rapa, and Vibrato Jazz.

Below is a brief look at the other races in the pick-six sequence, races 3-8.

Race 3 is a turf sprint, therefore influenced by weather. Turf sprints also require horses to cross the main track before entering the main turf oval. If it rains, the California-bred maiden race could be switched to dirt.

Key entrants include Kilat, Celebrity Status, Troy Story, and Empty Headed.

Race 4 is a $50,000 maiden-claiming sprint for California-bred 3-year-old fillies. Tribal Spy exits an open maiden claimer that produced three next-out winners. Trained by John Sadler, she is a potential single.

Race 6 is a wide open maiden-40 starter allowance. Recent blowout maiden-claiming winner Spacecoast is the choice, but all seven starters in the six-furlong race have a shot.

Race 7 is a maiden-40 starter for 3-year-olds at a mile on turf. Square Dancer scored an impressive maiden win Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park and makes his California debut as the horse to beat first start for trainer Peter Miller. If the race is moved to dirt, recent main-track maiden winners Warren’s Joe T. and I Don’t Care Who merit extra consideration.

Race 8 is a $20,000 maiden claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs. Second-start class dropper Banged His Eye is the one to catch.