Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park & Tampa Bay Downs
Santa Anita - San Pasqual Stakes
Santa Anita - Sham Stakes
Gulfstream Park - Marshua's River Stakes
Delta Downs - Big Drama Stakes
Thoroughbred Racing Action
Santa Anita - San Pasqual Stakes Coil Back in California
By grade and purse money, the feature race on Saturday at Santa Anita is the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes. The $150,000 race for older horses drew a solid field of nine with three Grade 1 winners.
Headlining the trio is the five-year-old Coil, who is trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Pegram or Watson or Weitman. By Point Given, Coil has won six of his 13 career races for earnings of over $1-million. He exits a third place finish in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile and three starts back won the Grade 1 Sprint Championship at Santa Anita. He is adaptable to any pace and even thought he has been running in one-turn races recently he did win the Grade 1 Haskell and Grade 3 Affirmed around two turns.
Ultimate Eagle is a Grade 1 winner on the turf and Grade 2 winner on the dirt. His Grade 2 win was in the Strub at Santa Anita, but has only run one time since March. He is the likely pace-setter making his second start off the layoff. If left alone, Ultimate Eagle will be very tough to run down.
Jaycito is another Bob Baffert-trainee and is coming off arguably his best career run, an allowance race across town at Hollywood Park. The Victory Gallop-horse has always promised more than delivered in his three years of racing and needs some help on the front end to set up his late run. He may get help from another Baffert horse, Hoorayforhollywood.
Another Baffert horse is the Distorted Humor-sired Bank the Eight, who is coming off a disappointing last place finish in the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood at Hollywood Park. Two starts back he freaked with a huge speed figure and if you go back to 2010, Bank the Eight is a perfect two-for-two around two turns. Even though he has ridden all of the Baffert horses, jockey Rafael Bejarano takes the mount on Bank the Eight.
Even though he has only made 10 career starts and is a six-year-old gelding, John Scott may be the one with the most upside. The California-bred has won half of his races for earnings of over $380,000. He was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile over the track with a troubled trip and against the bias. John Scott may be a synthetic specialist, but the price could be just right on Saturday.
The other horse at single digit odds is Tres Borrachos, an eight-year-old gelding who is always around at the wire, but hardly gets the job done. He is winless in nine starts at Santa Anita with two seconds and one third.
Key Decision and Golden Itiz drew the outside two posts and complete the field.
Post time for the San Pasqual is 6:36 ET.
Santa Anita - Sham Stakes Goldencents Looms Large
2012 was a memorable year for trainer Doug O’Neill as he swept the first two legs of the Triple Crown with his three-year-old I’ll Have Another and while it did not end as he had hoped, O’Neill is back this year with another promising colt, Goldencents.
Goldencents has only run three times, but he has two wins and his only defeat was a second place finish to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby. In his last race, the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot, Goldencents won in hand by a widening length and three-quarters. He is the best horse in the race and is a deserved 4-5 on the morning line.
The horses that seem most likely to upset the favorite are from the same barn, Den’s Legacy and Manando. The two Bob Baffert trained colts have high expectations, but Den’s Legacy may be better on the turf and Manando just broke his maiden. Expect Manando to go head-to-head with the favorite early with Den’s Legacy picking up the pieces late.
With the short price on Goldencents the Sham was carded as the third race on the day and thus is part of the 50-cent pick-5, which starts in race one.
The first race is a wide open affair with a full field of 10 three-year-old fillies. The morning line favorite is Supercilious dropping from the maiden special weight ranks after three straight poor finishes, two of which were on the turf. Others to use are Diamond Flush, Sassy Brunette and Bluejoy. Jazz Girl could be a sneaky long shot for trainer Jeff Mullins.
Three-year-old colts go to post in race two with Caballo Del Cielo the 2-1 morning line favorite. The son of Songandaprayer comes off a two month layoff after a second place finish over the track in October. Chasintheaces, Secretsatmidnight and Spirited Touch are all first-time-starters from the Bob Baffert barn while the John Sadler-trained debut runner Bench Press has been pumping serious iron in the mornings.
More maiden three-year-old fillies in race four; this time at one mile on the turf. Of the 12 runners, eight of them are between 7-2 and 8-1 on the morning line. If Exchange Student runs back to her last race she will be tough to beat, but contention runs deep. Magnificent Shirl, Rolanda, Irish Presence, Sarach and Tiz Champ rate next.
The end of the pick-5 is a claiming race going six furlongs on the main track with a field of nine. There are no singles here with Buds Pal, Muchos Besos, Willie Brown, Tummel and Yes It’s Snowing all having claims on the win.
It’s a tough way to end the pick-5, but it’s a sequence that could pay very well, even with Goldencents in the Sham.
First post on Saturday is 3:30 ET with the Sham scheduled for 4:31.
Gulfstream Park - Marshua's River Stakes Grade 3 Turf Fillies and Mares
The lone graded stakes race on Saturday across the country is the Grade 3 Marshua’s River at Gulfstream Park. The mile and one-sixteenth race drew a field of ten led by morning line favorite Leading Astray.
Leading Astray has not won a race in her last two starts, but has been keeping some top company. She was second in the Grade 2 Mrs Revere at Churchill Downs and third in the Grade 3 Valley View at Keeneland. Prior to those races, Leading Astray won four straight and five of six including the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park. From the rail jockey Jose Lezcano should be able to get a good stalking trip and reel in the leaders late.
The concern for the favorite backers may be the lack of pace in the race. On paper, Frontside looks like lone speed with possible pressure from Fantasy of Flight. Fantasy of Flight drew post 10 with Frontside in post seven.
The runners with a bit more tactical speed in the race are Frolic’s Revenge, Heavenly Landing and Channel Lady.
Frolic’s Revenge has won seven of 20 lifetime races with her better wins coming on the turf at Calder. In two previous graded stakes she has only beat a total of three horses.
Heavenly Landing, on the other hand, is a Grade 3 winner as she won the Marshua’s River in 2012 at odds of nearly 20-1. Since then; however, she has only won once in seven starts. She comes off a short layoff and has been working well at Palm Meadows in the morning. From post five jockey Corey Lanerie should have plenty of options when the gates open.
Channel Lady is most likely to be overbet due to her connections. The Todd Pletcher-trained, Javier Castellano-ridden filly has won three of her five lifetime starts and will be making her graded stakes debut on Saturday. If she is able to run back to her last race, Channel Lady is going to be tough to hold off.
Deep closers in the field are Chokurei and Affair Dabbler with Filare l’Oro the longest shot on the board. Hard Not to Like is actually hard to decide what to do with. She won three of her first four races then has lost her last three. Two of those were in Grade 1 races on synthetic and traditional dirt back in April and May. Perhaps tab her for improvement next time, second off the layoff.
Carded as race ten on the 11-race card, post time for the Marshua’s River is 5:05 ET.
Delta Downs - Big Drama Stakes Seven Go Seven
The feature race on Saturday at Delta Downs is the $100,000 Big Drama Stakes for three-year-olds going seven furlongs on the bull ring track. The race drew a field of seven with five runners at single digit odds.
The morning line favorite at 2-1 is Heaven's Runway from the Bernard Chatters barn. Heaven's Runway has won twice in six starts and is coming off a seventh place finish in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot, which is the probable reason for favoritism. The Run Away and Hide colt may not like the seven furlong distance and may be purely a synthetic horse.
King Henry rates next making the drop for trainer Steve Asmussen after a fifth place finish in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park. By Henny Hughes, King Henry won two straight races prior to that including the $100,000 Clever Trevor, also at Remington Park.
Next on the morning line are Mr. Bandini's Band, Unbridled's Score and Hero Force. Of the three, preference will be given to Hero Force.
Hero Force has run three straight races against Louisiana-bred fillies with one win, one second and one third. The win came in the $100,000 Louisiana Juvenile at Fair Grounds and note that the jockey that day was Rosie Napravnik, who makes the trip across state for the mount on Saturday. Hero Force could be long gone if allowed to set the pace.
Mr. Bandini's Band exits a solid five and one-half length score over the track and distance, which was his first win since the debut eight starts back. The Bandini-colt is solid against allowance company, but has just come up short in stake races. As a bounce candidate, Mr. Bandini's Band could be overlooked in the wagering.
Unbridled's Score also exits a daylight victory over the track, but on speed figures will need to step it up. In August he was two and one-quarter lengths behind Mr. Bandini's Band in the $50,000 Sunny's Halo Stakes on the turf course at Louisiana Downs.
Completing the field are long shots Sir Yes Sir and Blazing Graduate.
Post time for the race honoring the winner of the Delta Jackpot back in 2008, Big Drama, is under the lights at 10:19 pm ET.
Thoroughbred Racing Action
Great racing action from across the country this weekend. Watch these races all on BetAmerica.com.
Saturday– January 5
- Santa Anita: San Pasqual Stakes - G2, $150,000, 4yo & up, 8.5f
- Santa Anita: Sham Stakes - G3, $100,000, 3yo, 8f
- Gulfstream Park: Marshua's River Stakes - G3, $100,000, 4yo & up f&m, 8.5f turf
- Delta Downs: Big Drama Stakes, $100,000, 3yo, 7f
- Laurel Park: Marshua Stakes, $125,000, 3yo f, 6f
- Tampa Bay Downs: Turf Dash Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up, 5f turf
- Fair Grounds: Dixie Poker Ace Stakes, $60,000, 4yo & up, 8.5f turf
- Turfway Park: Turfway Prevue Stakes, $50,000, 3yo, 6.5f
- Santa Anita: Monrovia Stakes - G3, $100,000, 4yo & up f&m, 6.5f turf
- Sunland Park: Winsham Lad Handicap, $50,000, 4yo & up, 8f 70y