10/29/2013 11:52AM

Santa Anita: Pick six carryover tops $439,000 as Rousing Sermon heads Big Bear

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rousing Sermon, who was stuck earlier this season before winning an optional claimer last out at Santa Anita, will aim for two in a row in Thursday's Big Bear.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Breeders’ Cup week at Santa Anita begins with jackpot – a two-day, $439,664 pick six carryover Thursday that kicks off a weeklong gambling extravaganza.

“It starts off with a bang with the pick six, and we go from there,” track president George Haines said. “We’re looking at probably a $2 million pool” with new money.

Pick six bonanzas have become the norm at the autumn meet – the Thursday carryover is the 11th from 20 days of racing. Management will take all the carryovers they can get.

“You see an overall pickup in the rest of the card,” Haines said, referring to handle. “And people that are out early can [play] the late pick four.”

Thursday’s pick six covers races 3-8 and includes the $70,000 Big Bear Stakes, a mile dirt race that goes as race 6. Both Jerry Hollendorfer trainees, Rousing Sermon and Summer Hit, benefit from an emerging track profile.

[DRF.com: Use Ticketmaker to craft your pick six ticket]

Speed has dominated recent dirt routes – nine of the last 10 were won by a pacesetter or a horse racing in second position. Rousing Sermon has tactical speed; Summer Hit is pure gas. Others in the field are Drill, Rail Trip, Soi Phet, and Majestic City.

Though front-runner Summer Hit drops from a Grade 1, recent second-level allowance winner Rousing Sermon might be the more likely winner of the Hollendorfer trainees.

“He’s one of those horses that came off the Derby trail and had to go out and get freshened up,” Hollendorfer said of Rousing Sermon. “It took him a while to get into gear.”

It took him a year and a half. Rousing Sermon finished eighth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and then campaigned with minimal success the second half of his 3-year-old season. Hollendorfer put him away for winter.

Rousing Sermon returned this March, won his second start back, then stalled. He finished in the money in three straight optional-claiming races on the Cushion Track surface at Betfair Hollywood Park and seventh in an optional claimer on the Del Mar Polytrack. He was stuck. But when he returned to dirt in the fall, he turned it around.

Rousing Sermon last out scored a decisive allowance victory four weeks ago at Santa Anita.

“We think he particularly likes the dirt here at Santa Anita,” Hollendorfer said. “He’s doing really good right now. He should make a very good older horse.”

Others in the field include stretch-outs Drill and Majestic City; Rail Trip, a former Grade 1 winner who seems off form; and Soi Phet, a former claimer who has won four of five starts since being claimed for $16,000 in May. Soi Phet finished third last out in a Grade 1.

Beyond pick six ramifications, Thursday might provide clues to the form of key Breeders’ Cup contenders. Classic entrant Mucho Macho Man would look better if Soi Phet wins the Big Bear. Soi Phet was third last time behind Mucho Macho Man.

Likewise, the maiden victory by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile entrant Tap It Rich can be validated if one of the horses he beat, third-place finisher Hold Everything, runs well in race 4.

Below is a look at the pick six sequence.

Race 3, a mile turf race for $40,000 claiming 3-year-olds, includes first-time tag Persuasive Paul and Sinfully, both trained by Doug O’Neill. “Persuasive Paul is taking a big drop in class; he’ll be forwardly placed,” O’Neill said. “Sinfully, he tries hard every time. He will be running” late.

Other contenders include comeback dropper Square Dancer and Under Review. Pick six bettors might need to include all four to ensure moving successfully to the next leg.

Race 4, a 1 1/16-mile maiden race for 2-year-olds, has two key contenders. Kristo stretches out following two runner-up sprints; Hold Everything finished third in his debut. Pick six bettors should get past the race by using only those two.

Race 5, a turf sprint for $32,000 claimers, is led by the peculiar Mr. Bossy Pants. An 11-for-23 pro, he was on his way to victory last out in a downhill sprint when he pulled himself up in deep stretch, lost his action, and got collared.

It was not the first time Mr. Bossy Pants acted weird. He drifted out at Hollywood Park in May but won; he also tried to pull himself up late in a March sprint at Santa Anita and finished third.

“He was doing it working over in Phoenix,” trainer Robertino Diodoro said. “He would be working, then put the brakes on.”

Diodoro hopes being reunited with jockey Edwin Maldonado on Thursday will help.

“Nothing against [Fernando] Perez, but not knowing the horse [compromised him]. Having Maldonado on him will help.”

Mr. Bossy Pants will be among the favorites. Others include veteran Carbonite and longshot also-eligible Meringue Pie, who shortens up after setting a fast pace and tiring in a turf route.

Race 7 is a turf sprint for California-bred fillies and mares, nonwinners of one other than. Chimi Dee ran super in her recent comeback and benefits from a race under her belt and shorter distance.

Race 8 is a $20,000 maiden claiming sprint for fillies and mares in which Sophie’s Secret is among the favorites despite losing three of her four starts this year while favored. She had minor trouble last time. Others include Glad’s Gals, beaten favorite in three of her last four, and Frannie’sspirittoo, an 11-start maiden including four as the favorite.