Promising Juveniles Face Off in Santa Anita Maiden Race

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

December 28th, 2017

If you’re keeping an eye on the road to the Kentucky Derby this winter, then you’ll definitely want to pay attention to Saturday’s second race at Santa Anita.

Seven horses are entered in the 8.5-furlong maiden special weight for two-year-olds, and several of them have already garnered reputations as colts to watch this winter. Whichever horse prevails will surely be bound for a Derby prep race in the near future.

The four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert will send out two starters, #2 Regulate and #4 Restoring Hope. Of the pair, Restoring Hope is more accomplished thus far; in his debut on December 17th at Los Alamitos, Restoring Hope launched a rally from off the pace and fell just a nose short while sprinting six furlongs. His pedigree suggests that the added distance of Saturday’s race won’t be an issue, and the fact that Baffert is running him back less than two weeks after his debut is a sign of confidence.

But Regulate might prove to be the better horse in the long run. Owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, the son of Quality Road was heavily hyped before his debut going a mile at Los Alamitos on December 14th, but his performance that day was disappointing, as Regulate finished a distant sixth after making a mild rally around the far turn. But there’s a good chance that Regulate is significantly better than he showed that day, and as with Restoring Hope, the quick turnaround is a sign that Baffert is expecting a good run. I think we’ll see a much-improved effort from Regulate this Saturday.

However, the horse to beat is unquestionably #1 Peace. Trained by Richard Mandella, Peace has kept great company in his first two starts, finishing second each time while competing against the future graded stakes-placed runners Mourinho and Instilled Regard. Peace’s most recent run was particularly impressive, as he was beaten only a head by the promising Shivermetimbers (who is bound for the Grade 3 Sham Stakes next week) while enduring a wide trip going a mile at Del Mar. That effort resulted in a solid 92 BRIS speed figure, the co-highest figure earned by any horse in Saturday’s race.

The other four starters would need to step up to be competitive, though I wouldn’t count out the late-running #6 Midnight Soot as a live longshot. Two starts back he was second behind Instilled Regard in a slow-paced maiden special weight that didn’t set up for him very well, and his most recent run can be excused since it was on turf. I don’t think it’s out of the question that this Phil D’Amato-trained runner could get on the board at a bit of a price.

My strategy will be to try and hit the exacta by keying Peace on top of a large ticket and Regulate on top of a smaller one. I’ll also play a superfecta using those two on top and Restoring Hope and Midnight Soot underneath.

$6 exacta: 1 with 2,4 ($12) $3 exacta: 2 with 1,4 ($6) $1 superfecta: 1,2 with 1,2,4 with 1,2,4,6 with 1,2,4,6 ($8)

Good luck!