03/04/2010 12:00AM

Santa Anita roundup



Speed on the turf has been deadly. All five grass races last week at one mile were won by the pacesetters; the last three weeks, nine of the 14 grass races at one mile were won by horses that led at every call. Does the trend constitute a bias? Well, maybe. Most winners "figured" - the four most-recent winners paid $7.60 or less; three were favored.

Compari - wire-to-wire at a mile on turf - scored his fifth consecutive win Feb. 28 in for California-breds. Racing over a turf course labeled "good," the Marty Jones-trained son of Redattore was never threatened. He won by 3 1/4 lengths under Garrett Gomez, who was surprised at how easily he made the front. "When we came out of the gate, I was really surprised when I looked over and saw that no one was really intent on going to the lead," he said. Compari will try open company next in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap at a mile on turf April 3. Come and catch him.

Two-turn speed on the main track was a liability early in the meet, but the track profile has shifted while the Pro-Ride surface wears out. Maintenance crews utilize equipment that pokes holes in the surface to allow drainage. The result has been a gradual change. Three of the six main-track routes last week were won gate to wire; the overall profile has shifted at the most frequently used route distance of 1 1/16 miles. Pacesetters went 0 for 21 through the middle of January and 6 for 25 since then.

The 4-year-old maiden filly Sabina Fay and 3-year-old maiden colt Pulpit Magic parlayed the speed-friendly turf profile into front-running wins. Their $17.40 win payoffs tie for "Jackpot of the Week" honors. Sabina Fay, a 4-year-old El Prado filly trained by John Shirreffs, raced gate to wire Feb. 24 in a downhill turf sprint, her first start in 2 1/2 months. Pulpit Magic, trained by Caesar Dominguez, made an easy lead Feb. 25 in a one-mile turf race and led throughout. Sabina Fay ran fast and can be followed; Pulpit Magic is not likely to get such a soft pace next time out.

The $8,000 claimer Sidepocket Lou won his second straight Feb. 26, a 4 1/4-length win under promising jockey Silvio Amador. Sidepocket Lou, trained by Jorge Periban, earned an 83 Beyer and is this week's "Most Likely Repeater."


Frank Stronach said Feb. 28 that the Pro-Ride surface will not be replaced at the end of the meet, contradicting an announcement in January the track would be replaced. This revelation came one day after the Feb. 27 card was canceled because of insufficient drainage of the main track. Rest assured that this story is far from over.

The Magna Five is having a tough time getting off the ground. The weekly Saturday wager - a $1 bet that links five races at Magna racetracks in a one-hour span - was scrapped Feb. 27 for the third time this season. The latest cancellation was due to the cancellation of the Saturday card after three inches of rain.

When the Feb. 27 card, including the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, was canceled, officials considered a variety of rescheduling options for the Derby prep. A practical option was to run the stakes the next day. The idea was scrubbed. The next logical alternative was to run it Wednesday, March 3. That practical idea was considered and also scrapped. Instead, the Sham will get lost March 6 on a card that already includes three Grade 1's.

The winning pick six Feb. 26 comprised five favorites and one second choice. And the chalky sequence paid $218, the fifth-lowest in the history of the bet at Santa Anita. The 5-of-6 consolation paid $11.40. Whoopee! The lowest pick six at Santa Anita occurred March 16, 1986 - it returned $106.20.

Christian Santiago-Reyes was only trying to lend a hand to his fellow jockeys in a charity basketball game Feb. 25 against Holy Angels School. But the apprentice rider banged his knee early in the game and was forced to sit out the Feb. 26 and 28 racing cards. Santiago-Reyes was expected to return to the saddle this week. He entered the week ranked 10th in the standings, with 13 wins from 122 mounts, and rides Cardiff Giant in the Rebel Stakes on March 13 at Oaklawn Park.


Santa Anita Derby

1. Caracortado, 2. Lookin At Lucky, 3. Dave in Dixie, 4. Blind Luck, 5. Nextdoorneighbor, 6. Setsuko, 7. Make Music for Me, 8. Sidney's Candy, 9. American Lion, 10. Alphie's Bet

The only change this week is dropping off the list. Plans call for him to make his next start at Turfway Park in the Lane's End. Connemara's placement at No. 10 is taken by Alphie's Bet, a contender Saturday in the Sham.

Santa Anita Handicap

1. Misremembered, 2. Loup Breton, 3. St Trinians, 4. Neko Bay, 5. Dakota Phone, 6. Philatelist, 7. Tiger's Rock, 8. Jeranimo, 9. Acclamation, 10. Mast Track

The 2010 winter handicap division is among the weakest in memory. The whole thing gets settled Saturday, when a full field of 14 is expected to start in the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Handicap. Why, the group is so weak that a 5-year-old mare with a single Grade 2 victory, one who is unproven beyond 1 1/16 miles, will be one of the favorites. Although it is possible St Trinians can win the Big Cap, it makes more sense for her to run a week later, in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 13. In that race, she would face the mighty Zenyatta.


Willie the Fox crushed 3-year-old claimers Feb. 25 by 2 3/4 lengths (80 Beyer for trainer Bill Morey Jr.). The gelding was running for a $14,000 claiming tag. He won his third straight and might win right back.

Kris Silver, a 10-for-34 pro, wired $50,000 claimers in a one-mile turf race Feb. 26 under Mike Smith. There's no reason he cannot win right back for trainer Jeff Mullins.

Jehan had been off five months when she ran Feb. 28 in a second-level off-the-turf allowance sprint for fillies and mares. She won by two lengths with a career-best 90 Beyer for trainer Mike Mitchell.

Sensational News, a $500,000 Mr. Greeley 4-year-old making his debut for trainer Richard Mandella, rolled to a smart, 2 1/4-length maiden sprint win Feb. 28, earning an 89 Beyer that makes him a threat second time out vs. allowance company.


You Know I Wancha, trained by Doug O'Neill, started at 4-1 in race 1 on Feb. 26. She was passively ridden, while O'Neill-trained Right to Work cleared at 14-1 before finishing second. You Know I Wancha, compromised by strategy, finished fourth. She is better than the race indicates and merits a closer look next time.

Cape Finisterre, trained by Peter Eurton, was expected to set the pace as the 8-5 favorite in race 9 on Feb. 28. Instead, Eurton trainee Gray Zulu cleared the field and was long gone at $13.40. Cape Finisterre might not be much, but he merits a closer look next time.


Alpha Kitten

Trainer: John Sadler

Last race: Feb. 24, 7th

Finish: 2nd by 2 1/4

This graded stakes winner had been off more than a year with a cannon-bone injury and ran super first start back. Not quick, rallied wide, and finished evenly behind her front-running stablemate. She fits in an allowance or stakes next time.

Heartless Vixen

Trainer: Ron Ellis

Last race: Feb. 24, 7th

Finish: 5th by 4 1/2

Running in the same race as Alpha Kitten, this comebacker never had a chance. She was rank and uncomfortable behind horses, fought her rider most of the way, then coasted home in an inconclusive comeback. Previously 2 for 2, she deserves another chance.

Devil On The Roof

Trainer: Vladimir Cerin

Last race: Feb. 25, 8th

Finish: 1st by 2 1/4

A dropper from maiden special weight to maiden-25, he rolled home strongly and was claimed by Cerin from Beau Greeley. Eligible to a maiden-40 starter allowance, he can fire right back for his new connections.

General Dan

Trainer: Gary Stute

Last race: Feb. 28, 1st

Finish: 3rd by 2 1/4

This $8,000 claimer had to be reshod immediately before the mile race, broke slowly, raced wide, and made belated headway at 2-1. Not a win machine (2 for 25) but good enough to beat similar. It might be time to shake things up with a jockey change.