The Player’s Edge – April 5, 2013: Santa Anita, Keeneland & Calder Race Course
Santa Anita - Providencia Stakes
Keeneland - Ashland Stakes
Calder Race Course - Calder Derby
Santa Anita - Santa Anita Derby
Flashback Goldencents Round 2
The stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby in Southern California is the Santa Anita Derby, which will be run for the 76th time on Saturday. The race originally included the first two finishers, Hear the Ghost and Flashback, from the San Felipe, but Hear the Ghost will not make the race, leaving Flashback the heavy favorite.
Flashback; however, still has something to prove. The gray son of Tapit won his first two races in style then did not have things his own way early in the San Felipe and was over taken late by Hear the Ghost. Things may not be so easy on Saturday as Flashback drew the rail with his pace rival Goldencents in post five.
The rider switch to Garrett Gomez on Flashback could be key. Gomez is not known for his front-running ways and is very good at getting a horse to relax early. Gomez is going to need to work his magic in order to have enough horse left for the final furlong.
Goldencents came into the San Felipe with a better resume than Flashback, but was the second choice. As a two-year-old, Goldencents won the Grade 3 Jackpot at Delta Downs then in January won the Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita. From all accounts the connections of Goldencents have decided to slow down their colt, which may leave Flashback on an easy lead. If jockey Kevin Krigger cannot stay close enough early, Flashback will turn this Santa Anita Derby into a one-horse race.
Of course, there appears to be other speed in the race that may just make a contested pace anyway. Super Ninety Nine won the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park in wire-to-wire fashion, Summer Exclusive is stretching out off a maiden sprint win and Storm Fighter basically broke his maiden on the lead throughout in his last race. Of those three, Super Ninety Nine is the one to back.
Super Ninety Nine loved the slop in the Southwest, but found the track not to his liking when it was fast for the Rebel. Trainer Bob Baffert, who also trains Flashback, opted to bring the son of Puplit back to California over a track Baffert knows Super Ninety Nine loves. Could Super Ninety Nine lead the field into the first turn? It could absolutely happen and he may just get brave on the front end.
Power Broker, another Bob Baffert-trainee who gets the services of Rafael Bejarano, and Tiz a Minster are the threats from back of the pack if the race goes too fast early. Dirty Swagg, probably the longest shot on the board, rounds out the field.
Post time for the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday is 7:00 ET.
Santa Anita - Providencia Stakes
Three-Year-Old Turf Fillies
One race prior to the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, and first leg of the late pick-4, is the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The nine furlong turf race drew a field of 10 led the China Doll Stakes winner Birdlover.
Birdlover was a rank outsider in the China Doll, sent off at odds of 10-1. The British-bred filly was not aware of her odds and ran the others off their feet. Birdlover went wire-to-wire and held off a good field; in fact, five of the fillies behind her are back in the Providencia.
Magnificent Shirl, Akiss Forarose, Flashy Ways, Sarach and Wittgenstein finished second through sixth in the China Doll with Magnificent Shirl and Flashy Ways the picks to upset on Saturday.
Magnificent Shirl was coming off a dominating maiden win in the China Doll and simply chased the winner around the track for the final four furlongs. With a more contested pace, Magnificent Shirl can run down the leaders late.
Flashy Ways began her career two-for-two then drew terrible for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies turn and finished 11th of 14. She came back with a good third, beaten less than a length, in the Miesque last November then took a break before coming back in the China Doll. She was another that needed a better pace scenario, especially breaking from post nine.
The concern once again for Magnificent Shirl and Flashy Ways is the lack of pace in the race. Birdlover looks to be lone speed and will be tough to run down late. Sultry Season could put some pressure on the stretch out, but the feeling is that she is just not as fast early as Birdlover.
One filly that did not run in the China Doll that deserves a look on Saturday is Scarlet Strike, who has run on every surface in California, but only has one win to show for it. Scarlet Strike broke her maiden back in September at Del Mar and since then has had a steady diet of stake races. In fact, four of her last six races have been in graded stakes including three Grade 1's. She will certainly appreciate the drop in class and ran well over this turf course in January. Add jockey Rafael Bejarano to the mix and Scarlet Strike may be the one to back.
Completing the field are Kyriaki and Sweet Red Cat. Sweet Red Cat may be ranked too low. She has won two of her last three and was only a head away from winning the third. Garrett Gomez gets the call aboard the daughter of Bluegrass Cat.
First post on Saturday at Santa Anita is 3:00 ET with the Providencia scheduled to break from the gate at 6:30.
Keeneland - Ashland Stakes
Wide Open Field of Grade 1 Fillies
The feature race on Saturday at Keeneland is the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The eight and one-half furlong race drew a full field of 14 and contention runs deep.
To say the Ashland is wide-open is an understatement. Of the fourteen in the main body of the field, six are between 4-1 and 8-1 on the morning line with only three fillies at or above 20-1. Drawing the role of the favorite is Tuttipaesi, who is making her first start on a surface other than turf.
Tuttipaesi, an Irish-bred, began her career in Italy with three wins in four starts then after a run in England she was shipped stateside to trainer Graham Motion. The filly wasted no time in getting off on the right foot, winning the Ginger Brew stakes by two lengths. She then finished third as the favorite in the Herecomesthebride, a race won by Kitten's Point, who is also in the Ashland.
Kitten's Point began her career on the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs so the Keeneland surface should not pose a problem. She won the Herecomesthebride close to the pace, but appears to be adaptable to any pace scenario. An up close style is the way to go with the first line finish at this distance.
Others at single digit odds are Private Ensign, Spring Venture, Spring in the Air and Emollient.
Private Ensign is another making her first start on a synthetic surface after starting her career with four straight races on conventional dirt. She broke her maiden at the distance of the Ashland and was third behind Live Lively and Dreaming of Julia in the Davona Dale. After what Dreaming of Julia did in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, Private Ensign is definitely a candidate for the win.
Spring Venture loves synthetics as evident by her two-for-two record over similar surfaces. The daughter of Spring At Last won the Grade 3 Mazarine at Woodbine and won the OBS Championship at Ocala. Also note that Spring Venture shipped in to Keeneland early and got a work out over the track last week.
Spring in the Air was second behind Spring Venture in the OBS race and is also by Spring At Last. She; however, has a win at Keeneland, winning the Grade 1 Alcibiades last year. Second off the layoff, back into the winner's circle.
Emollient ran into a buzz saw in the Gulfstream Park Oaks and is back just a week later to try to make the Kentucky Oaks field with a win in the Ashland. By Empire Maker, Emollient is bred to love the Keeneland surface. The post, 13, may be the biggest problem she is to overcome.
While the rest of the field are double digit odds, a case can be made for them all. Nipissing is undefeated with four wins at Woodbine, Broken Spell was second in the Alcibiades last year, Redressthebalance won the California Oaks over the synthetic surface at Golden Gate last start, Kitten's Dumplings was second in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks, Allaah won a $50,000 stake race over the synthetic surface at Turfway Park, Every Way was third behind Spring Venture in the Grade 3 Mazarine, Wave Theory was third in the Florida Oaks and Magical Moon was third in the Alcibiades.
Perhaps "all" is the best way to go.
Carded as race nine on the ten-race card, post time for the Ashland is 5:23 ET.
Calder Race Course - Calder Derby
Opening Day at Calder
After a great meet at Gulfstream Park the south Florida racing scene moves to Calder Race Course for their 2013 meet. Opening day kicks off with a 12-race card highlighted by the $250,000 Calder Derby.
The morning line favorite for the nine-furlong race is Speak Logistics, who is coming off a third place finish behind Orb and Violence in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. Orb went on to win the Florida Derby and may be the favorite for the Kentucky Derby so Speak Logistics has been keeping some top company. He returns to Calder where he won the In Reality Stakes last October by just under three lengths.
Also appreciating a return to the Calder strip is Sr. Quisqueyano, who has three wins and three seconds over the track. He too ran in the Fountain of Youth, but did not run very well, finishing seventh of nine. He needs to find a form reversal to when he won his first three starts by a combined 28 and three-quarter lengths.
Elmutahid is the other colt exiting the Fountain of Youth on Saturday and he did worse than his other two rivals, checking in last, beaten just under 20 lengths. His start prior to that on a sloppy and sealed track at Gulfstream was a corker and would be tough if he returns to that race. He may be the pace in the Calder Derby.
The second choice on the morning line is Sky Captain, the Sky Mesa colt who tried graded company in the Gotham at Aqueduct last month. Prior to the race in New York, Sky Captain had won one of four races and was second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park. His maiden win was back in July as a two-year-old so he has yet to prove a top three-year-old this year. Trainer Mark Casse puts the blinkers on his colt for the first time, perhaps looking for the wake-up call.
Reporting Star is the only other runner in the field at single digit odds and will be making his first start on a surface other than turf. He is stabled at and has trained over the Calder main track so perhaps there is a little bit of home field advantage in his corner.
Offlee Fast, eighth in the Tampa Bay Derby behind Verrazano, Michael With Us, winner of the OBS Championship at Ocala, and Joshua's Promise, the 20-1 outsider, who could be at odds of over 100-1, round out the field. Michael With Us broke his maiden in the restricted stake races and could surprise in this race. He cost nearly four times his sire's stud fee and is stabled at Calder.
First post on opening day is 12:50 ET, post time for the Calder Derby is 5:20.
Thoroughbred Racing Action
Great racing action from across the country this weekend. Watch these races all on BetAmerica.com.
Saturday– April 6
- Santa Anita: Santa Anita Derby - G1, $750,000, 3yo, 9f
- Santa Anita: Santa Anita Oaks - G1, $300,000, 3yo f, 8.5f
- Santa Anita: Providencia Stakes - G3, $150,000, 3yo f, 9f turf
- Santa Anita: Potrero Grande Stakes - G2, $150,000, 4yo & up, 6.5f
- Keeneland: Ashland Stakes - G1, $500,000, 3yo f, 8.5f
- Calder Race Course: Calder Derby, $250,000, 3yo, 9f
- Oaklawn Park: Bachelor Stakes, $75,000, 3yo, 6f
- Pimlico: Twixt Stakes, $75,000, 3yo, 8.5f
- Pimlico: Dahlia Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8f turf
- Pimlico: Mister Diz Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up, 5f turf
- Tampa Bay Downs: Turf Classic Stakes, $75,000, 4yo & up, 9f turf
- Tampa Bay Downs: Hilton Garden Inn Sprint Stakes, $75,000, 4yo & up, 6f
- Tampa Bay Downs: OBS Sophomore Stakes, $75,000, 3yo, 7f
- Tampa Bay Downs: Stonehenge Farm Sophomore Stakes, $75,000, 3yo f, 7f
- Tampa Bay Downs: First Dude Distaff Turf Stakes, $75,000, 4yo & up f&m, 8.5f turf
- Tampa Bay Downs: Sophomore Turf Stakes, $75,000, 3yo, 8.5f turf
Sunday – April 7
- Oaklawn Park: Arkansas Breeders' Stakes, $60,000, 3yo, 8.5f
- Golden Gate Fields: Golden Poppy Stakes, $50,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8.5f turf