03/13/2013 12:53PM

Santa Anita: Starspangled Heat due for a victory in Friday allowance

Barbara D. Livingston
Starspangled Heat has finished in the money in all eight of his races on Santa Anita's downhill turf course.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Barry Abrams is hoping Santa Anita’s meet mirrors what is going on with his beloved Los Angeles Lakers, who are finding their stride after a sluggish start. An appropriate horse to carry that flame for Abrams on Friday at Santa Anita is Starspangled Heat, a late-running turf sprinter who was an unlucky loser of two downhill races earlier this meet and seeks an overdue victory in the featured seventh race.

“He’s run some great races, but it’s tough to make up five or six lengths,” Abrams, a longtime Lakers season-ticket holder, said Wednesday. “He loves this course. That’s why I wanted to run him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, but he couldn’t get in.”

Starspangled Heat nearly overcame an 11-length deficit in the final quarter-mile of the Sensational Star Stakes on Feb. 24, falling three-quarters of a length short of catching Aint No Other after a tardy start. On Friday, Starspangled Heat returns to a second-level allowance, a condition at which he lost by a head Feb. 15.

“I’ve had nine seconds, five by less than a length,” Abrams said. “If I’d have won a few of those, I’d have six or seven wins at the meet. Hopefully, some of these seconds the first part of the meet will even out and turn into wins.”

Friday’s race will be the fifth of the meet for Starspangled Heat, who never has finished out of the money in eight tries on the downhill course.

To prevail, Starspangled Heat will need to beat nine rivals, most notably A Toast to You, who was a nose behind Starspangled Heat when finishing third in the Sensational Star. They’ve been keeping close company. A Toast to You was a head behind Starspangled Heat in the Feb. 15 allowance, which was won by Royal F J, who is entered in this 6 1/2-furlong race but is stuck on the also-eligible list.

D’pendable returns from a 14-month layoff. His speed and ability to run well fresh make him a formidable opponent.

No Silent was a disappointing sixth in a similar spot last time out Jan. 12 but has finished second in his other three tries down the hill, including to Starspangled Heat in a first-level allowance during the fall meeting.

Sweet Swap was fourth in that Jan. 12 allowance as the favorite, but he has finished in the money in his other two tries down the hill.

European newcomer Big Note had decent form in British handicaps and listed stakes last year and could be a factor if he fires fresh.