Results, Santa Anita Saturday Race 5 — lost $550

Trainer Ron Ellis scored with a longshot FTS #3 Canonize

Trainer Ron Ellis scored with longshot FTS #3 Canonize

Horseplayers have core handicapping beliefs that tend to make them favor safe maidens — like recently raced runners with high Beyer numbers, while steering clear of perceived riskier types — like longshot first time starters and horses coming off long layoffs.

Thoroughbred racing is a good gambling game, because if horseplayers look closely enough, and mine enough coal, they’ll discover a few types of bets where they’ll have a long-term advantage. Of course, if bettors show a healthy profit on certain types of wagers, then other types must be huge losers.

It’s just the nature of the game. 

If the track takeout is 15 percent, not every angle over time will return 85 cents for every dollar bet. Some will return $1.25, while others just 65 cents.

And I’ve discovered one of the absolute worst bets in Southern California. It’s a first-time starter whose post time odds are below 7-to-2. So many times I see debut horses breaking slowly or not running their best until their second start. So, why take a short price?

According to my records, of the 203 first timers I have who were less than 7-to-2, just 44 of them won or 21 percent. And if you bet them all, you’d be losing 33 cents on the dollar. So, why bet any of them?

Most of these horses have high percentage jockeys and trainers, a hefty purchase price, and lots of good workouts including several bullets. Believe me, when you see one of these animals do your bank account a favor and stay away.

In Saturday’s fifth race, #10 Raymorrison was just such a beast. This first timer was hammered down to 2-to-1 by Santa Anita horseplayers, who must have been baited in by the perceived safety of Raymorrison’s six bullet workouts, decent connections and $110,000 purchase price.

Raymorrison ended up running fairly well, as he stalked the pace and hung on for second. The one positive aspect of these low-performing, heavily bet first timers is that they create opportunities for overlays on other horses in the race.

In Saturday’s race, first timers #6 Company Tiger and #11 Hidden Blessing  had long-term profitable angles going for them. And #3 Canonize was another profit fit until his price drifted out of my 7/2 to 19/1 betting zone as the horses were loading into the gate. Maybe it was the 50,000 fans onhand for the SA Derby that pushed up the price.

Anyway, Canonize ended up winning the race by open lengths for trainer Ron Ellis and he paid $49.20.

My plan was to bet $250 on #3 Canonize if his post time odds landed between 7/2 and 19/1. I would have won about $5,000 if he stayed at 19/1 but since Canonize was 23/1 my alternative plan kicked in so I did not have a nickel of website money on him. 

In the end, I ended up betting $150 on #6 Company Tiger at 9/1; and $200 on both #8 Vanquest at 5/2 and #11 Hidden Blessing at 5/1.

 To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Caspian (KY) Solis A Hendricks D 15.50 5
2 2 Candy Store (KY) Nakatani C Yakteen T 21.10 10
3 3 Canonize (KY) Valdivia, Jr. J Ellis R 23.60 1
4 4 Gato Roar (KY) Baze T Mullins J 16.80 6
5 5 Ego (KY) Baze M Vargas J 50.90 9
6 6 Company Tiger (KY) Rosario J Paasch C 9.60 11
7 7 Ducane (KY) Flores D Pletcher T 13.40 8
8 8 Vanquest (NY) Garcia M Sadler J 2.60 3
9 9 Best Mon (KY) Bejarano R Harty E 13.00 7
10 10 Raymorrison (KY) Gryder A McAnally R 2.30 2
11 11 Hidden Blessing (KY) Gomez G Armstrong J 5.50 4
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $49.20 $19.00 $7.20
10 $4.20 $3.20
8 $3.00
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $119.50 (3-10)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $758.10 (6-6-3)
$1.00 Superfecta

Results, Santa Anita Saturday Race 1 — lost $600

Jockey Victor Espinoza on #13 Lanie's Way eeks out victory over #11 Fine Time to Leave

Lanie's Way, #13, eeks out victory over #11 Fine Time to Leave

Coming into this race Mike Mitchell, the trainer of #11 Fine Time to Leave, had won with 24 of his last 66 maiden claimers and anybody who was on them all made 24 percent on their money.

So, even though Fine Time to Leave had not run a Beyer Speed Figure in the 60’s, she figured to make an impact. Jockey Rafael Bejarano broke Mitchell’s filly in the middle of the pack then made a five-wide move on the turn. She rallied on the outside in the stretch, but couldn’t run down #13 Lanie’s Way, who held on by a head.

Lanie’s Way had almost the same exact trip as Fine Time to Leave. The only difference was that jockey Victor Espinoza moved earlier on the turn and was always a couple of lengths ahead of Fine Time to Leave until the very end.

I bet $400 on Fine Time to Leave at 2/1 and $200 on #3 Latego Light at 4/1.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

2 1 Sister Derek (CA) Nakatani C Hess, Jr. R 38.10 10
3 2 Latego Light (FL) Baze M Eurton P 4.10 5
4 3 Misstrailcityzone (CA) Quinonez A Nettles K 108.40 11
5 4 Runway Starlet (CA) Baze T O’Neill D 6.00 6
6 5 Fleet Royale (KY) Blanc B French N 54.90 3
7 6 Champagneforchelle (CA) Stra K Lewis G 63.00 13
8 7 Coatcheck Girl (KY) Gryder A Marquez A 6.60 4
9 8 My Reality (CA) Russell C Mendoza J 94.40 12
10 9 Minor Issues (CA) Sorenson D Semkin S 10.40 7
11 10 Fine Time to Leave (KY) Bejarano R Mitchell M 2.30 2
12 11 Warrens Sweetheart (CA) Valdivia, Jr. J Gutierrez J 42.20 9
13 12 Lanie’s Way (KY) Espinoza V Kitchingman A 4.50 1
14 13 Swingin Storm (FL) Garcia M Harty E 18.00 8
SCR Poolside (CA)    
Pgm Win Place Show
13 $11.00 $5.00 $3.40
11 $3.80 $3.00
6 $17.60
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $21.60 (13-11)

The Pamplemousse out of SA Derby after vet exam

A veterinarian giving a pre-race examination to The Pamplemousse found an issue with the horse and told trainer Julio Canani who scratched the co-favorite from the Santa Anita Derby after consulting with his own vet.

The Pamplemousse was slated to clash with Pioneerof the Nile in a heavily-promoted meeting of two promising Kentucky Derby prospects.

Canani confirmed the scratch to the Los Angeles Times, but refused to give a reason. He did say that the horse is fine and he would discuss the situation over the next couple of days.

Canani vs. Baffert in the 2009 Santa Anita Derby


Pioneerof the Nile, trained by Bob Baffert, will try to catch Canani's speedster The Pamplemousse in the SA Derby. (Benoit photo)

Saturday, Santa Anita Race 5 — 2:05 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Possible overlays                    Morning line

#3 Canonize                               8/1
#6 Company Tiger                      10/1
#7 Ducane                                 12/1
#8 Vanquest                              3/1
#11 Hidden Blessing                    5/1

Of the 11 colts and geldings running in this race, seven of them are making their first lifetime start.

Many of the first timers have been working out well, but the best potential bets are #3 Canonize, #6 Company Tiger and #11 Hidden Blessing. Both Canonize and Company Tiger are owned by connections that have good records with first-out winners. Jockey Garrett Gomez rides Hidden Blessing and he often finds himself on winning debuters at this class level.  

Of the experienced runners, #8 Vanquest’s second-place finish in his last race was a few points better than the median winning Beyer Speed Figure for this class. Vanquest ran behind Supreme Summit, who came back to win an  allowance race.

Coming off a seven-month layoff, the Todd Pletcher-trained #7 Ducane is showing a couple of good workouts. The 12-to-1 morning line seems very high to me considering Pletcher has a large following.

At the betting window, I will take $250 to win on #3 Canonize at 7/2 to 19/1; $200 on #11 Hidden Blessing at 7/2 or better and $150 on #6 Company Tiger at 7/2 to 19/1.

If either Canonize or Hidden Blessing fall out of the betting zone, then I will substitute for that horse only a $200 wager on #8 Vanquest at 2/1 or more.

Saturday, Santa Anita Race 1 — noon post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $32,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3 yo fillies

Possible overlays                         Morning line

#2 Sister Derek                                 15/1
#3 Latego Light                                 6/1
#11 Fine Time to Leave                     3/1
#13 Lanie’s Way                                 4/1

The median winning Beyer Speed Figure for this class is 65, which bodes well for #3 Latego Light who ran a 64 Beyer when she last raced on Feb. 16.

In that February race, Latego Light was going a mile and she came running late with a spirited rally.

Mike Mitchell trains #11 Fine Time to Leave, who is probably much better than she looks. If almost anybody else trained this horse I would want nothing to do with it, but Mitchell won with 24 of his last 66 maiden claimers and anybody who bet them all would be ahead by 24 cents on the dollar. I have to respect that.

When Mitchell’s maiden claimers are live, I noticed, their odds are often bet below 3-to-1, so I will be watching the tote board.

Starting for her third time off of a six-month layoff, #13 Lanie’s Way could win if she improves by a few lengths or if none of the other contenders run their best. Another positive clue with Lanie’s Way would be strong wagering action. Also, first-time starter #2 Sister Derek is OK if the price is right.

If #11 Fine Time to Leave is 5/2 or less, then I will wager $400 to win on her; if she’s 3/1 or 7/2 then just $150; if 4/1 or more than I won’t bet her.

Also, I want $200 to win on #3 Latego Light at 5/2 to 9/1, but only $100 at 10/1 or more.  Finally, I will take $150 to win on #2 Sister Derek at 10/1 to 19/1 only.

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