Saturday, Santa Anita Race 3 — 1:31 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $32,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 3 yo fillies

Possible overlays                           Morning line

#1 Lanie’s Way                                      4/1
#4 Serena’s Echo                                  15/1
#7 A Taco Short                                   3/1
#8 Jet Set Lass                                    12/1
#9 Play Reveille                                    9/2

The median Beyer Speed Figure for this race is a 68 and either this is going to be a weak race for the class or one of these runners is going to pop a lifetime best Beyer number.

The horse that has shown the quickest quarter mile burst is #8 Jet Set Lass and that’s important at 5-1/2 furlongs. Jet Set Lass is better than she shows in the Daily Racing Form where she hasn’t been less than 20-to-1 in her last four races.

In her last race on Feb 15, Jet Set Lass appeared to want to make a run in the stretch, but was stuck behind a wall of horses. When she finally got going, the race was nearly over.

Breaking from the rail, #1 Lanie’s Way ran well on Feb. 22, which was her first race back in six months. Also, #7 A Taco Short has been training well and she gained good ground in the stretch of her Feb. 5 debut. In that race, A Taco Short earned a 62, which is the best overall Beyer Speed Figure of these fillies.

Of the three first timers running, #4 Serena’s Echo is a good gamble at the right price.

Finally, #9 Play Reveille is owned by Harris Farms, Inc. whose maidens usually win early and are often heavily bet when they’re live. This Northern California farm has its own Thoroughbred trainer and race track which allows their runners to come to Southern California ready to go.

I will bet $150 to win on #8 Jet Set Lass at 5/1 to 14/1 but just $100 at 15/1 or more. Also, I’ll take $200 to win on #1 Lanie’s Way at 2/1 to 7/2 only, and $200 on #7 A Taco Short at 3/1 and up. If the Harris Farm money shows up knocking #9 Play Reveille to 2/1 to 7/2, then I will take $200 on her while canceling the bets on Lanie’s Way and A Taco Short.

Finally, I’ll wager $150 to win on first timer #4 Serena’s Echo at 10/1 to 19/1 only.

Saturday, Santa Anita Race 1 — 12:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming, $40,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Possible overlays                       Morning line

#2 Atta’ Girl                                    7/2
#8 Juicy Lucy                                  3/1

I’m hoping that #4 Golden Rocketship, the 8-to-5 morning line favorite, takes lots of money. This filly has good speed, but that quality is more valuable in races that are shorter  than 6-1/2 furlongs.

Alex Solis looks live on #2 Atta’ Girl, who was four paths wide on the turn Feb. 28 then was caught in tight quarters in the stretch. She can run better than the 67 Beyer Speed Figure she earned, but she would not need to improve to take this.

Breaking from the outside, #8 Juicy Lucy was pinned on the inside in the stretch in the same race Atta’ Girl comes out of and she might run better with clear sailing.

I will bet $300 on #2 Atta’ Girl at 5/2 or more and $300 on #8 Juicy Lucy at 3/1 or better.

Early KY Derby forecast: Toss The Pamplemousse and favor Pioneerof the Nile, Quality Road and Imperial Council

homeOf the 23 colts listed in this year’s second pari-mutuel Kentucky Derby future book pool, the two most likely to win at Churchill Downs on May 2 are Quality Road and Pioneerof the Nile.

Quality Road’s 4-1/4 length win in Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth on Feb. 28 earned him a 113 Beyer Speed Figure, which ties for the highest Beyer with I Want Revenge’s Gotham Stakes performance. Both of these horses sat within a length of the leader then drew off in the stretch, leading some handicappers to believe they ran the same type of race.

But I don’t agree.  

Quality Road stalked the pace in the one mile Fountain of Youth Stakes that was run in a quick 45-2/5 seconds for the half mile and 1:09-2/5 seconds for 6 furlongs. In the March 7 Gotham Stakes, I Want Revenge crawled in comparison.

The 1-1/16th mile Gotham fractions were 48-2/5 seconds for the half and 1:12-3/5 seconds for 6 furlongs. According to my pace numbers, which take track variant into consideration, Quality Road ran 10 lengths faster early than I Want Revenge.

Yes, the Fountain of Youth was run at one turn, while the Gotham Stakes was two turns, but that shouldn’t account for a 10-length pace difference.  

Of course, I Want Revenge finished faster than Quality Road, but he had an almost ideal scenario of an extremely slow early pace with no traffic to fight through. So, since I Want Revenge didn’t exert himself early, he had plenty of punch left for the stretch.

I Want Revenge, who is trained by Jeff Mullins, is obviously talented, but I can virtually guarantee you that this horse won’t experience such a soft pace again until The Belmont Stakes in June. Quality Road was much more impressive, but trainer James Jerkens needs to continue working to harness this contender’s brilliant speed or else he’ll die in the Churchill Downs stretch.

Pioneerof the Nile, trained by Bob Baffert, has never cracked 100 on the Beyer scale, but his stretch kick in the Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7 stamped him as a strong Derby contender. He’s scheduled to run against a small field in the 1-1/16th mile San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday. 

The only knock on Pioneerof the Nile is that he also went slow early in the Lewis Stakes, but he is not a front runner. Rather, this colt sat far off the pace and overcame a troubled trip.

Kentucky Derby pari-mutuel betting is open through Sunday afternoon when the pools close and odds are locked in. This is the second of three Derby pools and Churchill Downs is also offering both Derby exacta betting and Kentucky Oaks wagering this weekend.  

One of this year’s overly-hyped colts who does not look like a strong Derby horse to me is The Pamplemousse. This Julio Canani trainee won 1-1/8 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 28, but was loose on the lead and went six lengths slower than Quality Road through the first six furlongs. The Pamplemousse, who earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure, set an OK pace considering the Sham is two turns, but his finishing time showed that he is not yet Derby material. This horse will need to run much better next time to get my money on Derby Day.

Lastly, Imperial Council moved from eighth place to second in the Gotham Stakes, but didn’t gain any ground on I Want Revenge. However, trainer Shug McGaughey has this colt going in the right direction and his Gotham effort shows that Imperial Council has the ability to run well at the Triple Crown distances.

It is true that any of these colts could get injured at any time and be pulled from the Derby. So getting decent odds to cover the risk is essential.

Anything over 10-to-1 on #17 Pioneerof the Nile seems fair. While I would need 15/1 on both #13 Imperial Council and #18 Quality Road for a bet.

As for The Pamplemousse, throw him out until he shows that he can win while leading on a fast pace that is combined with a strong finishing kick.

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