Sunday, Santa Anita Race 5 — post time 2:34 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $20,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 4-yo’s and up

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 70

Possible overlays                               Morning line

#1 Joburg Star                                       7/2
#3 Our Last Monte                                    3/1
#8 Brite Dreamer                                     8/1

Since Santa Anita opened on Dec. 26, I’ve been betting on nothing but 6-1/2 and 7-furlong maiden races on this blog. But that doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring shorter sprints at the wagering window in real life.

In fact, I’ve hit quite a few nice-paying horses in the last month.

Last night I looked at the third race, which is a 6-1/2 furlong maiden claimer for 3-year-old females. Since I couldn’t find any solid plays in there, I decided to replace that race with this 5-1/2 furlong dash instead. One reason I like this race better is that two horses in this race are being saddled by trainers who I cashed many juicy tickets with over the recent years.

In my opinion, Darrell Vienna is one of the best horsemen on the grounds when it comes to winning maiden races with horses that the public overlooks. In this race, Vienna starts #3 Our Last Monte and he has given this gelding all slow workouts. A 4-year-old, Our Last Monte is running in his third race back off an 11-month layoff and can likely run better than the mid-60 Beyer Speed Figures he’s hung up in his last two runs.

Our Last Monte, who is making his seventh lifetime start, has demonstrated good early speed in most of his past races. The early foot will hurt this horse’s price, but he stands an excellent chance of winning today at a square mutuel.

Trainer Rafael Becerra won with only 5 of his 70 starters in 2011, so he doesn’t have much of a following. However, he has shown in the past that he’s excellent at winning races with maiden claiming sprinters that are coming off of long layoffs. Of his last 18 runners like this, Becerra won with seven of them, or 39 percent. Each $1 wagered on these animals returned $3.27.

On the rail, #1 Joburg Star ran well as a 2-year-old against maiden special weight company. But he hasn’t raced in one-and-a-half years. It would be no surprise to see Peter Miller getting his photo taken with Joburg Star in the winner’s circle, but I expect the presence of jockey Joel Rosario to drag this horse’s odds well below 7-to-2.

My betting strategy: I will put $300 to win on #3 Our Last Monte at 2/1 or more. Also, I want $250 on #8 Brite Dreamer at 3/1 to 14/1, but only $100 at 15/1 to 19/1.

Friday, Santa Anita Race 4 — post time 2:34 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 78

Possible overlays                      Morning line

#1 Chestnut Moon                           8/1
#2 Melrose Woods                          12/1
#4 Magic Fire                              8/1
#7 Lady Vivien                             6/1
#8 Dixie in Pink                           12/1
#9 Salt Tequila Lime                      9/2

Although morning-line favorite #6 Nihilist showed early speed in her Sept. 3 debut where she exceeded the median winning Beyer Speed Figure with an 81, I am betting against her.

It’s not that she doesn’t have a great trainer and jockey. She does.

And it’s not that she isn’t the most likely winner. She is.

But I estimate her odds will be somewhere between even money and 3-to-2.

Instead, I will take my chances with some of the other first and second time starters who may fly under the radar and strike at a big price. 

Although #9 Salt Tequila Lime loses points for being a May foal, trainer Bob Baffert has done well with first-time starters in sprints longer than 6 furlongs. On the inside, Both #1 Chestnut Moon and #2 Melrose Woods are conditioned by cagey trainers.

My betting strategy: At odds of 7/2 or better, I will wager $400 on #9 Salt Tequila Lime. Between the odds of 8/1 and 19/1, I will put $100 on the two highest-odds horses among #1 Chestnut Moon, #2 Melrose Woods and #8 Dixie in Pink.  Finally, I want $150 to win on whoever is the longer price between #4 Magic Fire and #7 Lady Vivien.

Friday, Santa Anita Race 1 — post time 1 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 4 yo’s and up

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 71

Possible overlays                                Morning line

#1 Hot Little Honey                                      10/1
#2 Missie Ky I You                                        9/2
#3 Cee’s the Year                                         5/2
#4 Pretty Much                                            8/1
#5 Contstant Saros                                        12/1

The filly with the most potential in here is #3 Cee’s the Year. This Ron Ellis-trained runner showed explosive rallies in her first two races, but was so far behind that she did not hit the board.

In her second race on Oct. 2, I thought it was interesting that Cee’s the Year broke well, but jockey Victor Espinoza then steadied her hard. By the time Cee’s the Year got her stride back she’d lost an estimated eight lengths. After trailing this maiden special weight field by 12 lengths, she ran on well to miss by just 6-1/2 lengths and she still earned a 60 Beyer Speed Figure. If I were to add the eight lengths in Beyer points, Cee’s the Year would get an adjusted Beyer of 80.

Making her 16th start, #2 Missie Ky I You may be able to win this race off her best effort. On Nov. 6, she ran satisfactorily in a 6-1/2 furlong sprint against maiden special weight company. She was four-paths wide on the turn while rallying from sixth to third place. I bumped up her Beyer Speed Figure from 61 to 68 because of the lost ground, however the median winning number for this race is a 71. So even her best effort today may not be enough, however new rider Joel Rosario should help.

After spending her life trying to win a turf race, #4 Pretty Much is entered in her second consecutive start on dirt. She needs to be on the top of her game to win this and the race must come up weak. In her seven grass races, the best Beyer Pretty Much ran was a 66, then she regressed to a 42 on the dirt last time.

I will back either of the two first time starters — #1 Hot Little Honey and #5 Constant Saros — as long as they are between 10-to-1 and 19-to-1. Anything more or anything less then I am not interested. Both of them have a couple of good workouts and they are trained by horsemen who can win at a price. I see no monsters in this race and it wouldn’t take much of a horse to win this thing.

My betting strategy: I will bet $300 to win on #3 Cee’s the Year at odds of 2/1 or higher. If she is less than 2/1, then I want $200 to win on #2 Missie Ky I You at 4/1 or more. Finally, I will put $100 to win on #1 Hot Little Honey and #5 Constant Saros if their odds fall between 10/1 and 19/1.

Thursday, Santa Anita Race 6 — post time 3:36 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $50,000, 7 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 75

Possible overlays                       Morning line

#1 Midnight Con                             6/1
#2 Cruxus                                   20/1
#3 Towering                                 4/1
#7 Charlie Company                          6/1
#8 Visible Marq                             7/2
#9 Congrats Ski                             4/1

After a slow start to the Santa Anita meet, trainer Mike Mitchell is on fire right now. According to the Daily Racing Form, Mitchell has won with seven of his last 15 runners and he saddles second-time starter #3 Towering in this event.

Mitchell has an outstanding record with maiden claiming second-time starters and he is even better when those horses are running in 6-1/2 and 7 furlong races. Towering, who ran evenly in his Dec. 8 debut at Gulfstream Park, was previously trained by Joseph Catanese III. With the trainer shift, Towering should significantly improve based solely on the colt moving from an 8 percent horseman, Catanese, to Mitchell, who won with 32 percent of his starters in 2011.

Also, Mitchell will leg up Joel Rosario on Towering and this combination his won with 15 of their last 34 runners for a return of $2.49 for every $2 wager.

But, by no means is this a one-horse race. Hard-knockers like #1 Midnight Con and #7 Charlie Company could easily win by merely repeating some of their previous races.

Trainer William Morey is bringing Charlie Company down from Golden Gate where this gelding hit the board in his last three starts. In two of the three, Charlie Company earned a better Beyer Speed Figure than the median winning number of 75 when I adjusted for the ground lost on the turn. Charlie Company’s running style is to break in the middle of the pack, and although Santa Anita favors speed more than Golden Gate, this gelding has a great chance today.

Doug O’Neill claimed #1 Midnight Con away from trainer Jeff Mullins for $30,000 on Jan. 20. Midnight Con’s best race was on Dec. 4 when he came within three-quarters of a length of the winner while running against $50,000 maiden claimers. However, only three horses ran in that race, so he had a perfect trip.

On Jan. 20, Midnight Con had the lead in the stretch, but ran out of gas going a mile. He has an outside chance, but I like Charlie Company better.

Another horse who has run some interesting races is #9 Congrats Ski. In this gelding’s second lifetime start on Dec. 17, Congrats Ski broke in the air and bumped the horse inside of him to lose at least a length. He then lost more ground when circling the field wide on the turn, yet still he ran a 68 Beyer, which I upgraded to 75.

On Jan 7, in Congrats Ski’s first start over the Santa Anita dirt, he pressed the pace chasing Consulado who was motoring through fractions of 21-2/5th seconds for the quarter-mile and 44-seconds flat for the half. Consulado, who is likely a future stakes winner, cruised to a 7-1/4 length victory while Congrats Ski’s jockey saw the chase was futile and breezed him throughout the stretch.

Congrats Ski has early speed, is dropping into maiden claiming for the first time today, and trainer Kathy Walsh does well when employing jockey Rafael Bejarano. Congrats Ski looks solid.

I wouldn’t care too much for #8 Visible Marq, except that his trainer is Bob Baffert, so he must be considered. In his previous race on Jan. 5, Visible Marq ran second to wire-to-wire winner Sir Allison, his barnmate, to complete a Bob Baffert exacta.

In that race, Rosario broke Visible Marq in the middle of the pack, then came with a nice stretch run to earn a 73 Beyer Speed Figure. This colt, who sports several quick workouts, was purchased as a 2-year-old for $50,000 and seems to be placed in the right spot for his third start.

The main knocks on both Congrats Ski and Visible Marq, however, are that they are lightly raced. At 7-furlongs, their lack of experience might be difficult to overcome. It’s true that Towering is also making just his second start, but Mitchell seems to have his second-timers ready to tackle all obstacles.

Finally, #2 Cruxus and #6 Ron Burgandy are both new geldings with good angles in their favor. If their odds stay below 20-to-1, then I’m slightly interested.

My betting strategy: I will be satisfied if at post time I am sitting with win money on #3 Towering at 5/2 and #7 Charlie Company at 9/2. Considering their morning line odds are 4/1 and 6/1 respectively, that doesn’t seem too unreasonable.

Because Mitchell’s horses tend to run better when less than 7/2, I will put $400 to win on #3 Towering at 3/1 or less, but $200 to win at 7/2 or higher. At odds of 5/2 or more, I will put $300 to win on #7 Charlie Company.

If #9 Congrats Ski is 5/1 or more, then I want $50 exactas 9 with 3,7.

If #2 Cruxus and #6 Ron Burgandy are between 10/1 and 19/1, then I want $50 to win on Cruxus and $100 to win on Ron Burgandy. Also, I will take $10 exactas 3,7,9 with 2,6.

Finally, if Charlie Company is 9/2 or more, then I’ll bet $50 exacta 3 with 7; $30 exactas 8, 9 (any odds) with 7; $20 exactas 1 with 7; and $5 exactas 2,6 (if less than 20/1) with 7.

Results, Sunday, Santa Anita Race 9 — won $682

 The ultimate winner, #4 Jim’s Decision, was no surprise as I noted in my race preview that he was one of the three top contenders expected to cross the finish line first.

However, getting the money wasn’t easy, as jockey David Flores was all out through the length of the stretch to outgame #3 Smart Hombre and to hold off the late rally of #1 Crestatorre.

Jim’s Decision looked good because he was steadily dropping in class and, in several of his previous six races, he earned Beyer Speed Figures that could win a bottom-level maiden claiming race like this one. I planned to wager $200 on him to win, but it was contingent on his price being longer than that of #14 Salty Robbin.

Salty Robbin showed recent dramatic improvement, but was breaking from post #14 on the far outside. This gelding missed by just a nose last time after going wide on the turn, but was no factor today at 6-to-1. As the 9-to-5 favorite, I couldn’t bet Jim’s Decision to win in this 13-horse field.

But I did combine him with two longshots that I keyed for second in the exacta. Fortunately, one of those runners, a 25-to-1 shot named Crestatorre, came on the outside and hit the wire a neck behind Jim’s Decision. Battling on the inside in this three-horse blanket finish was #3 Smart Hombre, and both he and Crestatorre seemingly hit the wire together. The photo finish showed Crestatorre nailed Smart Hombre by a long nose, keying an exacta that paid $62.60.

In $20 exactas, I used both Crestatorre and #12 Warren’s Tiger — who was 21-to-1 — for second place only underneath Jim’s Decision, #13 Indian Knight and #14 Salty Robbin. The result allowed me to collect $1,252, which gave me a $682 profit on the race after subtracting out my $120 in exacta wagers, a $250 win bet on Indian Knight and another $200 to win on Salty Robbin.

In the running of the race, longshot East Sky knocked heads with Smart Hombre as they led the field down the backstretch. As usual, Indian Knight did not break alertly so jockey Martin Garcia tardily brought his mount into contention as the field swung into the turn.

By the time they hit the bend, Indian Knight was three-wide with Garcia asking the gelding for more run, but the horse wasn’t giving him much of a response. Meanwhile, Jim’s Decision was sitting just behind the leaders while Flores looked for a running lane.

Flores saw his opportunity at the quarter pole and surged to challenge Smart Hombre for the lead as the field entered the top of the stretch. Jim’s Decision looked like he put away Smart Hombre at the eighth pole, but the inside runner was game and Smart Hombre came right back at him. Either horse looked like they could win as the wire approached.

Also, on the outside, Crestatorre rallied to be on even terms with Smart Hombre.

But a few jumps from the finish, Jim’s Decision accelerated for the neck victory.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Crestatorre (CA) Verenzuela J Periban J 25.60 2
2 2 Gamblin On Jack (CA) Quinonez A Capestro P 23.80 6
3 3 Smart Hombre (KY) Berrios H Jones M 7.50 3
4 4 Jim’s Decision (KY) Flores D Cerin V 1.90 1
5 5 Broken Glass (CA) Santiago Reyes C Bernstein D 6.20 4
6 6 East Sky (CA) Scott J January E 122.20 7
7 7 Sharp Upbeat (CA) Stra K Gallagher P 74.30 11
8 8 Maybe Tuesday (CA) Flores E McCarthy S 19.50 5
9 9 Bluffside (KY) Figueroa O Harris A 70.20 12
10 10 Roheryn Strider (KY) Vergara D Jackson D 14.00 8
12 11 Warren’s Tiger (CA) Krigger K Sherlock G 21.30 10
13 12 Indian Knight (VA) Garcia M Baffert B 4.60 9
14 13 Salty Robbin (CA) Delgadillo A Spawr W 6.00 13
SCR Own It (CA)    
Pgm Win Place Show
4 $5.80 $3.60 $2.80
1 $17.40 $10.60
3 $5.00
Exotic Payoffs
$0.50 Pick 4 paid $212.50 (1/6-8-6-4)

Sunday, Santa Anita Race 9 — post time 4:38 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $20,000, 4-yo’s and up, 6-1/2 furlongs

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure for this class: 70

Possible overlays                               Morning line

#1 Crestatorre                                      20/1
#2 Gamblin on Jack                                  15/1
#4 Jim’s Decision                                    7/2
#5 Br0ken Glass                                      5/1
#12 Warren’s Tiger                                  15/1
#13 Indian Knight                                    6/1
#14 Salty Robbin                                     4/1

Although I have seven horses listed as possible overlays, I believe this race will be won by either #4 Jim’s Decision, #13 Indian Knight or #14 Salty Robbin.

Many runners in this contentious 13-horse field have earned Beyer Speed Figures that exceed the median of 70. On Oct. 30, which was four races back in his past performance list, Jim’s Decision posted a 79 while pressing the pace against maiden special weight competition. After a couple of sub par performances on Hollywood’s synthetic track, Jim’s Decision ran a 68 Beyer while going three-paths wide on the turn at 5-1/2 furlongs. With a good trip, I see no reason why this Vladimir Cerin-trained horse can’t be right there at the finish.

In these large fields, it’s often a challenge for jockeys breaking from the outside to avoid suffering wide trips. At 6-1/2 furlongs, riders have some extra ground on the backstretch to maneuver their horses into position as the turn approaches. Of course, early speed helps and the two horses breaking from the far outside stalls have demonstrated quickness in their previous races.

Breaking from the 13 gate, but wearing saddle cloth number 14, Salty Robbin seems to be improving. Today will be his ninth start and his last race was his best. On Oct. 28, Salty Robbin pushed the pace down the backstretch in a 6-1/2 furlong race, accelerated 3-wide on the turn, then surged to the lead at the top of the stretch.  This gray gelding battled to the wire, but lost all the money by a nose. He earned a 70 Beyer, which I bumped up to 76 because of the lost ground.

I am aware that Salty Robbin could very well go wide again today, so I will need decent odds to compensate for the risk.

Breaking just to Salty Robbin’s inside will be Indian Knight. This son of Indian Charlie shows a $120,000 Keeneland sale price, which the owners paid in 2009. Obviously, the high hopes the connections had for this runner were never realized, but today he is realistically placed in this bottom-level maiden claimer.  

Two races back on Aug. 3, Indian Knight shot to the lead in a maiden claiming $50,000 sprint, but couldn’t gut out the win. On that day, Indian Knight finished third, however the 73 Beyer figure he received would win most races at this class. In watching some of the replays of this gelding, I noticed that he frequently has trouble at the start. In his last race, jockey Martin Garcia seemed to snatch the reigns at the outset, then Garcia steered Indian Knight into the center of the track.

Around the turn, Garcia took Indian Knight on a 5-wide journey and in the stretch the jockey kept the horse in the center of the track. Indian Knight lost a ton of ground and his 48 Beyer could have easily been a 68 with a clean start and a rail trip. Today might be the day.

Two other horses have run good races, but their running lines are buried deep in their past performances. On the rail, #1 Crestatorre ran a 69 Beyer six races back in a $40,000 maiden claimer on Aug. 11, then in August of 2010 he ran a 77. By the looks of it, this horse may just have one good race a year in him. 

Warren’s Tiger also has potential. He ran a 74 speed figure in March 2011, but virtually all of his other seven races are in the 50s and low 60s. In the 10/1 to 30/1 odds range, I plan to key these horses for second in the exacta .

I’m only interested in first-time starter #2 Gamblin On Jack at odds of 4/1 to 10/1. He stands at 15-to-1 on the morning line, so it’s unlikely I’ll be betting him.

Finally, #5 Broken Glass is making his second lifetime start after a layoff of 11 months. I think his inexperience puts Broken Glass at a disadvantage. But Broken Glass ran well in his debut while earning a 59 Beyer even though he was wide on the turn. After adjusting for the lost ground and his 11 months of development, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see this newly gelded horse finish first with a Beyer in the 70-to-75 range.

My Betting Strategy: At odds of 3/1 or more, I will put $250 to win on #13 Indian Knight. Also, I will put $200 to win on whoever is the longer price between #4 Jim’s Decision and #14 Salty Robbin, as long as they are in the 3/1 to 9/1 odds range.

If #2 Gamblin on Jack is 4/1 to 10/1, then I will bet $100 on him. If #1 Crestatorre and #12 Warren’s Tiger are at least 10/1 but no more than 29/1, then I want $20 exactas 4/13/14 with 1/12.

Results, Sunday, Santa Anita Race 9 — won $530

Looking at the past performances, I noticed that only one of these eight colts and geldings had ever matched the median winning Beyer Speed Figure of 71 — and #8 Nonrefundable did it twice. Of the other runners, the best Beyer they could muster was a 62, which #9 My Top Cat earned back in April.

So, it was easy for me to focus on Nonrefundable as the most likely winner.

All that I was concerned about was whether Nonrefundable’s odds would be high enough for me to wager. I noted in the race preview, that if he was less than 2-to-1 then I planned on passing.

The public made three horses 8-to-1 — #1 Just Jumped In, #2 Husky Glory and #3 Tiz Victorious. I guess whoever supported these three runners hoped that they would improve by the leaps and bounds necessary to win.

But, as the saying goes, hope is not a strategy.

Two others were 7-to-2, #4 G Ten and #6 Knucklebuster. I thought second-time starter G Ten may surprise with a big race only because I know that trainer John Shirreffs’ debuters never do well. G Ten broke slowly in his first race then finished fourth, 13 lengths behind. On Sunday, he was adding blinkers.

But G Ten broke poorly again, rallied into the middle of the pack entering the turn, then faded badly to finished dead last.

Knucklebuster fared better. My guess is that bettors liked Knucklebuster, not because he has a cool name, but because he is trained by the venerable Richard Mandella and he was dropping steeply in class from maiden special weight. Knucklebuster led down the backstretch before being collared on the turn by Nonfundable, who drew off and won by 9-1/4 lengths. Knucklebuster hung on for second.

While distancing this field, Nonrefundable earned a 79 Beyer.

At the windows, I was prepared to bet $500 to win on Nonrefundable if he was 5-to-2 or more. But at 2/1, I still liked him enough to bet $300 to win. In all, I collected $930, yet profited just $530 after subtracting out the $300 I wagered and another $100 I bet on G Ten. 

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Just Jumped In (CA) Smith M Spawr W 8.30 6
2 2 Husky Glory (KY) Flores D Gallagher P 8.00 4
3 3 Tiz Victorious (CA) Santiago Reyes C Moreno H 8.30 7
4 4 G Ten (KY) Talamo J Shirreffs J 3.70 8
5 5 Danceswiththewind (CA) Vergara D Becerra R 14.80 5
6 6 Knucklebuster (KY) Quinonez A Mandella R 3.90 2
8 7 Nonrefundable (KY) Espinoza V Gallagher P 2.10 1
9 8 My Top Cat (KY) Castanon A Heap B 15.90 3
SCR Oneinamillionyou (CA)    
Pgm Win Place Show
8 $6.20 $3.60 $3.00
6 $4.80 $3.80
9 $7.80
Exotic Payoffs
$0.50 Pick 4 paid $1642.35 (8-5-5-8)
$1.00 Exacta paid $10.90 (8-6)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $99.60 (5-5-8)
$1.00 Place Pick All paid $1655.60 (9 OF 9)
$1.00 Super High Five paid $2770.00 (8-6-9-2-5)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $447.90 (8-6-9-2)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $105.70 (8-6-9)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $24.20 (5-8)
$2.00 Pick 6 paid $159.60 (2-2/3/8-8-5-5-8)
$2.00 Pick 6 paid $42173.40 (2-2/3/8-8-5-5-8)
Fractional Times
22.77, 45.55, 1:10.08, 1:23.03

Results, Sunday, Santa Anita Race 2 — won $530

The glaring problem when looking at this lineup in my race preview was that all of the runners had serious flaws.

My task was then to try to find the fillies who were going off at decent prices that may either dramatically improve or run well enough to win a weak race.

On the inside, #2 Mango Tart had the best races of any in her past performance lines. Her main knocks were that she was stretching out a bit and had run just three times. Therefore, I couldn’t bet her at anything less than 2-to-1. At post time, the public made her the overwhelming 6-to-5 favorite, so I quickly eliminated her as a betting possibility.

Two fillies —  #3 Warren’s Assassin and #5 Kvell — competed in the same race three times since September and they finished within a half-length of each other every time. These two experienced runners had a total of 17 starts between them, but the highest Beyer Speed Figure either of them ever earned was the 56 granted to Kvell on Dec. 2.

In the past, they hit the board several times, but with the median winning Beyer Speed Figure being 64 for this class, Kvell and Warren’s Assassin would need to improve by some four lengths to match the par.

Of course, it could be done, but it wouldn’t be easy.

A second-time starter, #6 Frannie was being hyped by the Daily Racing Form where the handicapper noted that she ran OK after a wide trip. I adjusted her Beyer Speed Figure from 50 to 60 after watching the replay, but I had no faith in this horse either because she had run just one time.

Breaking from the far outside, #7 Here Comes Bonnie showed good early speed in her last two races. In a race on Dec. 4, Here Comes Bonnie missed by just a nose, but earned an abysmal 44 Beyer. When she popped and stopped on Dec. 30, she got just an 11 from the Beyer crew.

Again, no faith.

Of course, one of these fillies had to win this race, but since anything could happen I saw no reason to take a low price. I reduced my bets and planned to watch the tote board.

I figured that Kvell could win if none of the inexperienced runners fired. And since Santa Anita has an early speed bias, maybe Here Come Bonnie might run the race of her life.

Finally, I bet $200 on Kvell at 4/1 and $100 on Here Comes Bonnie at 7/1. I collected $830 for a horse that I really didn’t know much about or like too much, which is the beauty of playing the board and shopping for value.

In the end, Victor Espinoza rode Here Comes Bonnie with confidence, as he surged the filly to the lead while going wide on the turn. She was clearly in front throughout the stretch and nobody threatened her the rest of the way. She earned a 64 Beyer.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Wild in the Saddle (CA) Castanon A Lucas R 70.00 6
2 2 Mango Tart (KY) Flores E Capestro P 1.20 3
3 3 Warren’s Assassin (CA) Quinonez A Gutierrez J 5.00 2
4 4 Central Heat (CA) Vergara D Abrams B 29.90 7
5 5 Kvell (FL) Bejarano R Miller P 4.30 5
6 6 Frannie (KY) Blanc B Tsagalakis M 3.40 4
7 7 Here Comes Bonnie (CA) Espinoza V Cassidy J 7.30 1
Pgm Win Place Show
7 $16.60 $7.20 $4.20
3 $5.60 $3.20
2 $2.60
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $39.60 (7-3)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $403.80 (7-3-2-6)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $150.10 (7-3-2)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $69.40 (6-7)
Fractional Times
23.25, 47.03, 1:12.08, 1:24.97

Results, Saturday, Santa Anita Race 9 — won $800

In my race preview, I planned to bet $700 on #7 Teasing Bernie at odds of 2-to-1 or more and, as the horses went to post, I was amazed that this gelding was 7-to-1.

The public fell in love with favorite #5 Mon Coeur. He was likely bet down to 6-to-5 for three reasons: Joel Rosario was riding, the horse was lightly raced and he had the top last-race Beyer Speed Figure.

I can see Mon Coeur’s chances being upgraded with Rosario on board, but running in these longer maiden-claiming sprints in just a horse’s third start hurts more than it helps. That’s because horses need several races to build the stamina to last to the wire with the extra distance added to a typical sprint. Otherwise, the animals are gasping for air at the finish.

Sure, Mon Coeur had the best last race Beyer, but he earned it in a one-mile turf route and today he was going 6-1/2 furlongs on the dirt. Teasing Bernie’s last three races were also at a mile on the turf where his Beyers were 61, 63 and 65 respectively. The difference was that Teasing Bernie was 7-to-1. Had he been 6-to-5, I would not have been interested in him either.

Teasing Bernie almost won this race. He was running his eyeballs out in deep stretch as he tried to catch Mon Coeur, who had been leading the whole way. About five jumps from the wire, Teasing Bernie was about a half-length behind and still coming on, when Rosario appeared to pull on his right reign, steering his mount into Teasing Bernie’s path.

Teasing Bernie fell head over heels and dumped jockey Martin Pedroza onto the track. Neither horse nor jockey moved as the camera showed them in the background of a pan shot of all of the runners crossing the wire. Fortunately, Pedroza got to his feet, dusted himself off, and was riding the next day. 

But Teasing Bernie was another story. When horses go down at top speed like he did, very often they break leg bones and are destroyed. Somebody in the grandstand posted a video on YouTube showing the horse ambulance arriving then pulling a black curtain across so none of the onlookers could see what was going on. Naturally, the spectators feared the worst.

However, in a dramatic turn of events a few minutes later, the curtain came down and Teasing Bernie got up and walked into the horse ambulance under his own power. The crowd roared.

All the while, the inquiry sign was illuminated on the tote board. The stewards were watching the tape trying to determine if Teasing Bernie fell on his own or if Mon Coeur was to blame. Eventually, they disqualified Mon Coeur and moved 18-to-1 shot Tribal Dreams into first.

The result was good for me since I also bet $100 on Tribal Dreams. I liked this first-time starter because his sire, Tribal Rule, has had good success with debuting horses in long sprints.

Also, I had $300 on another first timer #9 Jamakagoodsense, at 8-to-1.

On Monday, I checked on the Internet and found a story that said Teasing Bernie was back in trainer Jim Cassidy’s barn. Cassidy said the gelding’s legs were fine and that he was monitoring the horse to make sure the animal didn’t suffer a head injury.

In the end, I bet a total of $1,100 on the race and collected $1,900 for an $800 profit.

2 1 Tribal Dreams (CA) Quinonez A Garcia V 18.00 1
3 2 Traweek (KY) Carrero V Rosales R 9.40 2
4 3 Dawns Goldendancer (CA) Bisono A Bacorn H 49.70 5
5 4 Mon Coeur (KY) Rosario J Dupuis J 1.10 9
6 5 Solana Soleil (CA) Bejarano R Hess, Jr. R 6.80 3
7 6 Teasing Bernie (KY) Pedroza M Cassidy J 7.10 10
8 7 Honeycomb (PA) Flores D Gallagher P 5.10 8
9 8 Jamakagoodsense (KY) Delgadillo A Walsh K 8.70 6
10 9 Cherokee Gambler (CA) Castanon A Dominguez C 44.90 4
11 10 Storm Harvest (CA) Santiago Reyes C Fanning J 50.20 7
SCR Ron Burgundy (KY)    
Pgm Win Place Show
2 $38.00 $17.00 $9.00
3 $9.40 $5.40
6 $6.00
Exotic Payoffs
$0.50 Pick 4 paid $713.25 (1-5-4/8-2)
$1.00 Exacta paid $118.10 (2-3)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $197.20 (5-8-2)
$1.00 Place Pick All paid $2103.30 (8 OF 9)
$1.00 Super High Five paid $157703.20 (2-3-6-10-4)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $13079.00 (2-3-6-10)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $965.60 (2-3-6)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $66.20 (8-2)
$2.00 Pick 6 paid $1633.80 (4-11-1-5-4/8-2)
Fractional Times
22.02, 45.17, 1:09.94, 1:16.67

Sunday, Santa Anita Race 9 — post time 4:38 pm


Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $20,000, 4-yo’s and up, 7 furlongs

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 71

Possible overlays                        Morning line

#4 G Ten                                   7/2
#8 Nonrefundable                           5/2

I think I have located a couple of strong angles and plan to consider only two horses in today’s 9th.

John Shirreffs, who trains #4 G Ten, hardly ever tries to win with a first time starter on dirt. In fact, in the records I keep, he has only won two out of 35 races with first-time starters at odds of less than 20/1. Furthermore, just four of those runners have been in the top three at the first call. So what Shirreffs must do is ask the jockeys to break his horses slowly in their initial races. Sometimes Shirreffs’ horses rally slightly, but many times they do not.

This training methodology stands in stark contrast to when Shirreffs trained for 505 Farms and was winning with some 40 percent of his debuters. How times have changed.

Anyway, in this race, G Ten is making his second lifetime start and it doesn’t bother me at all that he broke slowly in his Dec. 15 debut and lost by 13 lengths. He adds blinkers for todays race and for all I know he trained in them before he made it to the races, then didn’t use them the first time he ran.

If that’s the case, we may see a dramatic improvement.

The morning-line favorite is #8 Nonrefundable. This 5-year-old gelding is making his sixth start, but three of them were at a significantly higher class including two maiden special weight runs. As a 4-year-old in Spring 2011, Nonrefundable earned back-to-back Beyer figures of more than 70. After finishing poorly in a route race, Nonrefunable was laid off for four months then came back on Nov. 26. In that race, the jockey didn’t seem to be asking Nonrefundable for much run. However, in the following race on Dec. 14, Nonrefundable pushed the pace in a 6-furlong event before finishing second in a three-way blanket finish.

Based on his past career best, Nonrefundable looks like he has an excellent shot.

My Betting Strategy: If #8 Nonrefundable goes off at 5/2 or more,  then I will put $500 to win on him. If Nonrefundable is 2/1, then I will reduce my wager to $300. If he’s less than 2/1, then I will bet $200 on #4 G Ten at 2/1 to 9/2 and $100 at 5/1 or higher. If Nonrefundable’s odds are 2/1 or greater, then I will bet just $100 on G Ten at 2/1 to 9/2 and $50 at 5/1 or higher.


Sunday, Santa Anita Race 2 — post time 1 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $30,000, 7 furlongs, 3-year-old fillies

Possible overlays                      Morning line

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 64

#2 Mango Tart                               2/1
#3 Warren’s Assassin                        4/1
#5 Kvell                                    5/2
#6 Frannie                                  7/2
#7 Here Comes Bonnie             5/1

This seven-horse field includes two contenders who ran their best races in weak fields.

The best-looking filly of the five listed above is #2 Mango Tart, who is bred for stamina and earned a 69 Beyer Speed Figure in a Nov. 6 maiden special weight sprint. If this horse had a few more starts under her belt, then I would bet her with confidence. But 7-furlongs is a tricky distance which leaves many a lightly-raced runner gasping for air as they near the wire.

A rider switch from Kerwin John to apprentice Eswan Flores allows Mango Tart to drop from 120 pounds to 114, which should help keep her strong in the stretch.

One experienced filly that I am taking a long look at is #5 Kvell. This Peter Miller-trainee has hit the board in six of her last eight races, but her Beyer numbers are weak. That can only mean she probably was lucky enough to be running in fields full of slow horses for the level. Kvell would have to improve significantly to beat Mango Tart if that filly runs at 7-furlongs like she does in shorter sprints.

Warren’s Assassin, who is trained by Jorge Gutierrez, ran against Kvell in three of her last four races and the two runners finished within a half length of each other every time.

With Santa Anita favoring early speed, the chances of #6 Frannie and #7 Here Comes Bonnie get a boost. Although Frannie has only run one time, she was bet down to 7-to-1 in her debut then ran a 50 Beyer Speed Figure in a race where she had a wide trip. I bumped the number to 60 when I adjusted for lost ground. It’s possible she could show more early energy in her second start.

Here Comes Bonnie’s three career Beyers are 31, 44 and 11. Her early foot and her cagey trainer, Jim Cassidy, make her an upset possibility. But she, too, is lightly raced.

It’s interesting to note that the Daily Racing Form consensus selects Kvell on top. This runner is by no means a strong favorite and bettors should proceed with caution.

Without a doubt, I am trying to find the cleanest dirty shirt among these fillies and won’t wager much.

My Betting Strategy: At odds of 2/1 or more, I will bet $200 to win on #2 Mango Tart. If #7 Here Comes Bonnie is 6/1 or better, I will place $100 to win on her. If #2 Mango Tart is bet below 2/1, then I will instead put $200 to win on #5 Kvell at 3/1 or more.

Saturday, Santa Anita Race 9 — post time 4:38 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

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

Possible overlays                         Morning line

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure for this class: 69

#2 Tribal Dreams                               12/1
#7 Teasing Bernie                              4/1
#8 Honeycomb                                   8/1
#9 Jamakagoodsense                             6/1
#10 Cherokee Gambler                          12/1

The highest last race Beyer Speed Figure in here belongs to #5 Mon Coeur, but he ran the 65 on the grass at Hollywood Park. Mon Coeur will be making just his third start and I prefer more experienced runners in this type of race.

That’s why I am going to back #7 Teasing Bernie. This gelding is also coming off of the turf, a surface which he ran on in his previous three races. Teasing Bernie, who ran OK in those three grass routes, had trouble on Nov. 4 when he  was unruly early before jockey Martin Pedroza settled him down. Yet, Teasing Bernie still ran a 65.

I would say that Teasing Bernie has the right running style for 6-1/2 furlongs, but early speed has been deadly since the winter meet opened at Santa Anita. So I won’t mention his running style.

It would not surprise me to see one of the first-time starters on the early lead. Tribal Dreams is the son of Tribal Rule, whose offspring I show has won with six out of 14 Southern California debuters at 6-1/2 and 7 furlongs where their odds were less than 20/1. But the best choice of the first timers is probably #9 Jamakagoodsense. The owner and trainer win with debuters fairly often in limited samples and Kentucky breds seem to do better after they turn 3-years-old. The one thing I don’t like about Jamakagoodsense is that his purchase price shown in the Daily Racing Form is $75,000 while the claiming price is just $30,000.

In the past few years, horses who were bought for big money at the sales have not performed well when making their first start at this class.

Finally, the Patrick Gallagher trainee, #8 Honeycomb, is wearing blinkers for the first time. That is usually a profitable move, from a betting perspective, early in a horse’s career. However, Gallagher does not do well with second timers.

I will put a $700 win bet on #7  Teasing Bernie at 2/1 or higher. Also, I want to put $300 to win on whoever goes off at higher odds, up to 9/1, between #8 Honeycomb and #9 Jamakagoodsense; and $100 on #2 Tribal Dreams at less than 20/1 only. In the unlikely event that Teasing Bernie is less than 2/1, then I will bet $300 on both Honeycomb and Jamakagoodsense — as long as they are 3/1 to 9/1. If either of them go to 10/1 to 19/1, then my bet reduces to $100.

Horses drinking beer while being entertained by a goat. Just another day at the O’Callaghan barn

Ruben is a popular 218-pound goat that entertains the 15 horses in Carl O'Callaghan's barn. Facebook photo.

HOLLYWOOD PARK — He has ponies, homing pigeons and a popular goat named Ruben at his barn. All of his 15 Thoroughbred racehorses drink a pint of Guinness in the morning and two pints at night. And after Kinsale King won the 2010 Grade I Golden Shaheen in Dubai last March, the gelding drank a whole bottle of champagne at the barn party. No, Carl O’Callaghan isn’t orchestrating a three-ring circus, it just seems that way.

“It’s like Old Mac Donald’s Farm, my barn,” O’Callaghan said on Frankie Lovato’s radio show on Sunday.

O’Callaghan came to the United State from Ireland in 1990 when he was just 14 years old and began working with horses in upstate New York. He started galloping Thoroughbreds for trainer Susan Duncan then moved onto John Kimmel and finally Todd Pletcher. He’s been training on his own for 2-1/2 years and is based at Hollywood Park.

“I knew horses are what I wanted to do. I followed it. I put my head down and just kept going forward,” he told Lovato. The interview starts at 15:08 and ends at 35:51.

Kinsale King, who was one of O’Callaghan’s first horses, is currently doing well at Hollywood Park.

O’Callaghan also acts as an exercise rider and works out many the Thoroughbreds that he trains. This helps him attract top jockeys to ride his runners on race day.

O’Callaghan prefers Garrett Gomez, but jockeys of his stature are usually booked by large barns full of high-priced horses. But O’Callaghan said jockey agents trust him when he says his runner is doing well because O’Callaghan is the one on board for the workout. And, therefore, agents for top riders are more likely to agree to put their jockeys on O’Callaghan’s horses, he said. 

He told Lovato that his barn has a “lovely 2-year-old” coming up and Leaving New York is a promising older horse.

In Ireland, it’s common for trainers to put Guinness in their horses feed because it draws the animal to the food. Otherwise, many horses avoid eating, O’Callaghan said. Other local trainers, like John Sherriffs, do the same thing.

“Many trainers put a little beer in the horse’s feed,” O’Callaghan said.

Lovato mentioned that it may also help to sedate some of the more hyperactive young colts. O’Callaghan agreed to a point but added “I’ve got some orangutans in there and it doesn’t knock them down at all.”

Ruben is the barn’s goat. When O’Callaghan bought him he was 35 pounds, but now he fattened up to 218. The goat is a real character who bounces from stall to stall, playing with all of the Thoroughbreds.

“He’s everybody’s favorite. All of the horses like him,” said O’Callaghan, who may bring Ruben to Dubai if Kinsale King goes back.

O’Callaghan ships his horses from Hollywood Park to Santa Anita when racing is there, or south to Del Mar in the summer. Because the Santa Anita racetrack is favoring early speed, this week O’Callaghan sent four horses to Golden Gate.”I’m going there just to get away from the dirt because I don’t think my horses have enough speed to keep up with those horses across town,” he said.

Results, Saturday, Santa Anita Race 6 — lost $200

David Flores and Consulado cruised to an easy victory over $1 million yearling Welter Weight

I was looking forward to betting against morning line favorite #8 Welter Weight, who was a first-time starter that was purchased for $1 million at the Keeneland September sale in 2010. Trained by Steve Asmussen, this colt had two extraordinary 6-furlong workouts: the first stopped the clock at 1:11-and-1/5th seconds on Dec. 28 and the second was run in 1:11 flat on Dec. 21.

Very likely Welter Weight is going to be a good horse that earns a lot of money for owner Stonestreet Stables & Bolton. But my records show that horses running in their first races at less than 2-to-1 are very bad wagers. Some of the information I keep includes the prices paid for unraced horses, which is found in the past performances of the Daily Racing Form. Debuting runners that were bought for $500,000 or more ran 52 times in Southern California at less than 20-to-1, yet only won 10 races. If you bet them all, you got back just 48 cents for every $1 wagered. And it was just as bad for those less than 2-to-1.

Moving on, I whittled the field down to two contenders: #4 Consulado, who ran strongly last time, and the Bob Baffert-trained #11 Bobby Flay.

In addition to Welter Weight, five other first-time starters were in this 11-horse field. Many of them had fast workouts and they could have been any kind, so I planned to watch the board for betting action. If any of them went off between 10/1 and 19/1, I would place small wagers on them.

When watching the replay of Consulado’s first race on Dec. 17, I saw that his 81 Beyer Speed Figure was earned while going three-paths wide on the turn. Adjusting for the lost ground, I eased the speed figure up to 83, which was just one point away from the 84 median Beyer Speed Figure that wins these types of races. I determined that Consulado was obviously solid and hoped to get a gift of a price of 5-to-2 when Welter Weight was heavily bet.

Then I turned to Bobby Flay.  Baffert does excellent work with 3-year-old horses in maiden special weight races, however his colt needed significant improvement to win. He was in the same Dec. 17 race that Consulado came out of, but Bobby Flay ran just a 74 speed figure.

In the pari-mutuel betting pool, the crowd made Welter Weight 8-to-5, but Consulado was also 8-to-5. So, Welter Weight was being hammered, but Consulado did not hold any value for me.

This scenario came about because the public was betting the other first-time starters like they had no hope. The odds on those five horses ranged from 27-to-1 on Carlsbad Mountain to 84-to-1 on Malibu Affair.

In the running of the race, Consulado eased to the early lead, was never challenged and glided home under a hand ride. The 7-and-1/4th length victory looked impressive, yet earned just an 86 Beyer.

Welter Weight was second after getting stuck behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch leading to a situation where jockey Julien Leparoux couldn’t find a running lane until the race was almost over.

At the betting window, I needed 5/2 on Consulado, but passed because his odds were too low. None of the first timers fell into my betting range, but my $200 bet on Bobby Flay did kick in at 9/2.

To watch a replay of this race go to

1 1 Carlsbad Mountain (KY) Talamo J Headley B 27.10 4
2 2 Sea to Sky (NY) Smith M Hendricks D 34.50 6
3 3 Only the Gold (KY) Espinoza V Mandella R 20.20 3
4 4 Consulado (KY) Flores D Puype M 1.60 1
5 5 Congrats Ski (KY) Gomez G Walsh K 9.50 8
6 6 Symphonic Cat (KY) Quinonez A Headley B 39.10 10
7 7 Atticlude (KY) Santiago Reyes C Caceres, Jr. A 92.60 7
8 8 Welter Weight (KY) Leparoux J Asmussen S 1.70 2
9 9 Declan (KY) Gutierrez M Kruljac J 54.10 9
10 10 Malibu Affair (KY) Maldonado E Biancone P 84.20 11
11 11 Bobby Flay (KY) Bejarano R Baffert B 4.50 5
Pgm Win Place Show
4 $5.20 $3.00 $2.40
8 $3.20 $3.00
3 $5.40
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $8.20 (4-8)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $746.30 (3-11-4)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $551.60 (4-8-3-1)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $81.50 (4-8-3)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $101.00 (11-4)
Fractional Times
21.53, 44.11, 1:08.48, 1:15.00

Results, Saturday, Santa Anita Race 1 — lost $100

Jockey Joel Rosario dominated Saturday's first race with Scream Queen

Scanning the past performances for these 10 runners, I noticed that none of these fillies ever had the lead at any point from the quarter mile forward. So, with no natural speed horse in the lineup, I expected a cavalry charge from the gate as the jockeys tried to establish themselves as the front runner.

But Joel Rosario made a clear lead with #6 Scream Queen and the strategy paid off as they were never challenged on this speed-favoring surface. The race favorite, #1 Silver Threat, was pushed along in second place down the backstretch, but was no threat to Scream Queen who smoked the first quarter mile in 21 and 4/5ths seconds and the half mile in 44 and 3/5ths.

 This was a rematch for these two runners, who met on Dec. 18. In that meeting, Silver Threat broke slowly then went wide, but still beat Scream Queen by a head while finishing second. Scream Queen’s tactics that day were to lay back a few lengths from the leaders then make a stretch run. Scream Queen’s change of running style from stalker to front runner on Saturday seemed to make a world of difference, as her Beyer Speed Figure increased from 63 on Dec. 18 to 70 on Saturday.

In my write-up before the race, I identified Scream Queen and Silver Threat as the logical contenders.  Although I noted that no natural speed horses were entered in the race, I did not attempt to identify who would likely go to the front. I should have taken a shot at it, because when I ran the past performances through my pace software, it showed that a repeat of one of Scream Queen’s past races would give her an easy early lead. 

But I was fixated on the bad trip by Silver Threat even though I knew her odds would likely be pounded down to an unbettable price of less than 2-to-1. In the Daily Racing Form, Silver Threat was picked on top by all of the handicappers and Brad Free wrote in detail about the trouble she encountered last time.

So, everybody knew.

I wrote that Scream Queen could win if she improved by a couple of lengths while Silver Threat regressed. And the way the race shaped up, that seems to be what happened. 

But I wanted 7-to-2 on Scream Queen for my $200 bet, yet she went off at only 2-to-1. My potential $400 wager on Silver Threat never materialized either because her post time odds were an ugly 7-to-5.

Anyway, I lost $100 on the race due to a flier I took on #10 Wild Date, who ran well four starts back, however has performed poorly in her last three — now make it four — starts.

To watch a replay of this race go to www.calracing .com.

1 1 Silver Threat (KY) Talamo J Miller P 1.40 3
2 2 Cal Bayers (KY) Gomez G Hess, Jr. R 8.70 10
3 3 Ansede (KY) Gutierrez M Taylor T 10.00 2
5 4 Candy and Nuts (KY) Krigger K Pederson D 15.40 4
6 5 Scream Queen (KY) Rosario J Sherman A 2.40 1
7 6 Call Me Tough (CA) Flores E Collins D 69.40 8
8 7 Causeway Express (KY) Quinonez A McAnally R 15.50 7
9 8 Secret Genius (CA) Santiago Reyes C Knapp S 37.60 5
10 9 Wild Date (FL) Bejarano R Harty E 9.00 6
11 10 Four Forty Second (ON) Stra K Bernstein D 24.50 9
SCR Janie Girl (CA)    
SCR Bull Rush (FL)    
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $6.80 $4.00 $2.60
3 $8.20 $4.40
1 $2.40
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $26.50 (6-3)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $303.90 (6-3-1-5)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $61.70 (6-3-1)
Fractional Times
21.77, 44.55, 1:09.58, 1:16.24

Results, Friday, Santa Anita Race 3 — lost $700

Troy Taylor won Friday's third with 8/1 shot Coparcenary

In my race preview, I had many questions about favorite #11 Warren’s Performer and second-choice #7 Golden Nip. I came to the conclusion that neither one represented a good bet at low odds and that two second-timers in the race that were both coming off long layoffs — #5 Dani’s Sis and #6 Coparcenary — were horses that could win at a decent price.

Dani’s Sis is trained by Mike Puype, who is good with horses making their second lifetime starts and even better when they are coming off long layoffs. Dani’s Sis was making her first start in 10 months.

Coparcenary was being saddled by one of the leading horsemen at Hastings Park in Vancouver B.C., Troy Taylor. Taylor hit with 55 of 222 starters in 2011 — or 25 percent — so he is without a doubt a competent horseman. But since I had no statistics on how Taylor does with inexperienced horses coming off layoffs, and Puype is one of the best with this second-time starter move in Southern California, I opted to wager $500 on Dani’s Sis.

I should have known Taylor had a betting coup in the works with Coparcenary because virtually the same thing happened on January 15, 2009. On that day at Santa Anita, another Canadian invader, Mark Casse — who took  the Sovereign Award as Canada’s top trainer three times — also won with a horse who hadn’t raced in many months and was making just its second lifetime start. One other glaring similarity should have made Coparcenary, an 8-to-1 shot, an obvious play: both Taylor and Casse brought their own jockeys in from the Great White North — with Taylor using Mario Gutierrez and Casse legging up Patrick Husbands.

At the very least, I should have split the betting money between Dani’s Sis and Coparcenary. But, overall, second-timers in these cheap maiden races for older horses are not good bets. I typically need strong evidence that the trainer profitably uses this move. So, I played it safe and went with the Puype horse.

As the gates opened, Dani’s Sis broke slowly to be three lengths behind the leaders. At the quarter mile mark, jockey Freddie Lenclud used Dani’s Sis a bit to get into fourth place, just two lengths from front runner #1 Our New Dancer.

Meanwhile, Coparcenary broke alertly to be running with the first flight without rider Gutierrez even asking the filly for speed. Coparcenary settled into fifth place at the quarter mile, but was only three lengths from the front. Midway on the turn, Coparcenary came up the rail and was on even terms with Dani’s Sis. Lenclud was working hard on Dani’s Sis, but not getting much response.

At the top of the lane, Warren’s Performer overtook 50-to-1 shot Our New Dancer, but then Coparcenary came on in the middle of the track to mow them both down. Meanwhile, Dani’s Sis found enough energy to get by the tiring Our New Dancer for third place.

In all, I ended up losing $700 on the blog as I called an audible with 20 minutes to post and noted that I was preparing to put $200 on Golden Nip at 3/1 or more in the hopes she could match the 72 Beyer she ran four races back in November 2010. Golden Nip finished seventh.

To watch a replay of this race go to

1 1 Our New Dancer (CA) Maldonado E Dunham D 53.80 4
2 2 Silver Luna (KY) Vergara D Knapp S 12.10 5
4 3 Warrens Matchmaker (CA) Steiner J Van Berg J 54.00 9
5 4 Dani’s Sis (KY) Lenclud F Puype M 4.00 3
6 5 Coparcenary (BC) Gutierrez M Taylor T 8.90 1
7 6 Golden Nip (CA) Nakatani C Miller P 3.20 7
8 7 Key Allegro (KY) Bejarano R Periban J 8.70 8
9 8 Tusun (CA) Stra K Locke T 88.40 10
10 9 Babeneau (KY) Talamo J Ellis R 10.00 5
11 10 Warren’s Performer (CA) Santiago Reyes C Gutierrez J 2.00 2
SCR Annie Lou (KY)    
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $19.80 $8.40 $5.80
11 $3.40 $3.20
5 $4.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $40.00 (6-11)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $90.30 (5-5-6)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $2492.20 (6-11-5-1)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $156.40 (6-11-5)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $74.20 (5-6)
Fractional Times
21.95, 44.95, 1:10.72, 1:17.70

Looking ahead as Breeders Cup returns to Santa Anita in 2012

Saturday, Santa Anita Race 6 — post time 3:05 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 3-yo’s, 6-1/2 furlongs

Possible overlays                       Morning line

#1 Carlsbad Mountain                        12/1
#2 Sea to Sky                               15/1
#4 Consulado                                5/2
#6 Symphonic Cat                            12/1
#9 Declan                                   15/1
#10 Malibu Affair                           20/1
#11 Bobby Flay                               9/2

The way I see it, this race is #8 Welter Weight versus the world.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, first-time starter Welter Weight was bought for $1 million and sports two sparkling 6-furlong workouts: 1:11 1-5 on Dec. 28 and 1:11 flat on Dec. 21. This colt is the 9-to-5 morning line favorite and in the long run, debuters whose odds are below 2-to-1 are bad bets. Some of the information I keep relates to the price paid for unraced horses. Of all the debuters who were bought for $500,000 or more, 10 of them won out of 52 for a paltry return of just 48 cents for every $1 bet. At less than 2-to-1, they won 3 times in 13 tries for a 46 cent return on $1.

So, I am hoping Welter Weight gets pounded down to 6-to-5 at the windows, which will raise the prices of contenders like #4 Consulado and #11 Bobby Flay.

These runners have performed well in their only lifetime starts and wouldn’t have to improve much to win. And who knows if a monster is lurking among the other five first-time starters — so I will have to consider them if the price is right.

My Betting Strategy:  At odds of 5/2 or more I will put $300 to win on #4 Consulado. If Consulado is bet below 5/2, then I want $200 to win on #11 Bobby Flay at 4/1 or better. Also, I will bet $100 on any first-time starter who goes off at between 10/1 and 19/1.

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

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $30,000, F&M 3-yo’s, 6-1/2 furlongs

Possible overlays                            Morning line

#1 Silver Threat                                     5/2
#6 Scream Queen                                      3/1
#10 Wild Date                                        8/1

The two favorites in this race — #1 Silver Threat and #6 Scream Queen — are running in a rematch of their Dec. 18 6-furlong tilt at Hollywood Park. On that day, Silver Threat finished second by three-quarters of a length after getting bumped as the gates opened then going wide on the turn. After watching the video, I estimated that Silver Threat conservatively lost three lengths at the start and two more on the turn, so I upgraded her 61 Beyer Speed Figure to a 73. 

Scream Queen had a clean trip, although she was in the three path on the turn, so I nudged her 61 Beyer up to a 63. She finished third and was just a head behind Silver Threat.

The curious aspect of today’s race is that no true early speed horses are in the 10-horse field. Therefore, it will be interesting to see which jockeys try to gun their mounts for the lead then try to hang on at the wire.

Although, Scream Queen was the 4-to-5 favorite last time, it looks like Silver Threat is almost certain to be today’s choice. The four Daily Racing Form selectors pick her on top and Brad Free provides all the details about her rough trip in his race analysis. It could be that everybody at the track is aware that Silver Threat ran a winning race last time and they will back her today.

Silver Threat has a couple of other angles going for her, too: Her owner Gary Barber won with four of his last five second-time starters and her trainer Peter Miller has an excellent record with maiden claimers in their second lifetime starts. The major drawbacks are that Silver Threat wore front wraps last time, she has little racing experience and the crowd is likely to overbet her. Many times when the whole world knows about a bad trip, then for some reason the horse doesn’t fire in it’s next race.

Scream Queen can win if a.) Silver Threat runs a poor race or b.) she improves by a couple of lengths while Silver Threat regresses slightly.

Finally, I’m giving #10 Wild Date a chance based on the 58 Beyer Speed Figure she ran on July 21. However, this Eoin Harty-trained filly has not run impressively in any of her three starts since.

My Betting Strategy: I will wager $400 to win on #1 Silver Threat at 2/1 or higher. But if Silver Threat is bet below 2/1, then I will take $200 to win on #6 Scream Queen at 7/2 or better. At odds of 6/1 or higher, I will put $100 on #10 Wild Date.

Friday, Santa Anita Race 3, Post Time — 2:02 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $20,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 4-yo’s and up, f

Possible overlays                  Morning line

#5 Dani’s Sis                                   5/1

#6 Coparcenary                           6/1

#7 Golden Nip                               3/1

#10 Babeneau                               6/1

#11 Warren’s Performer           5/2

In this 10-horse field of maiden claimers, few of these runners have approached the 66 median winning Beyer Speed Figure for this class.

One filly that has arguably exceeded the speed number, though, is #11 Warren’s Performer who had a troubled trip in a turf  route on Sept. 7. In that race, which was Warren’s Performer’s last start, she was three paths wide on the first turn and four wide on the second. She pulled jockey Chantal Sutherland along early and seemed hard to handle throughout. After being bumped in the stretch, Sutherland looked like she breezed this filly through most of the stretch. Yet with all of the trouble, Warren’s Performer still earned a 61 Beyer, which I upgraded to a 68. 

The one drawback for Warren’s Performer is that her trainer, Jorge Gutierrez, is much better when running a horse for the second time after a long layoff, not the first. The same can be said for Ron Ellis, who trains #10 Babeneau, a filly that hasn’t run since last April.

One of the more experienced contenders in the race is #7 Golden Nip, who will be making her seventh start. If this five-year-old can run back to the 72 Beyer figure she ran on Nov. 4, 2010 she’d be difficult to beat. But this horse seems like another one with major problems. After she ran the 72, Golden Nip was laid off for 11 months. In her three races back, she has yet to finish within five lengths of the winner.

Two of those races, however, were against higher class horses. And after Golden Nip flopped when running a 39 Beyer last November, the owners changed trainers. She is now in the Peter Miller barn after being taken from Vladimir Cerin.

With no strong runners to choose from, I am considering a couple of second-time starters that may run well at good prices. Mike Puype won last Sunday’s nightcap when Rass Stone went wire-to-wire and paid $13.20 while was making his second lifetime start. Puype does well with this training angle and when a second timer is coming off a long layoff, Puype’s numbers are even better. In here, #5 Dani’s Sis ran an unremarkable debut on April 24 and hasn’t run since. In her first start, Dani’s Sis was bet down to 5/1 in an eight-horse field. She has a couple of fast workouts and is scheduled to be ridden by Freddie Lenclud, a native of France, who has been riding in the Midwest.

Breaking right beside Dani’s Sis will be #6 Coparcenary. This filly last ran on May 6 at Hastings Race Course in Vancouver, BC and she is trained by one of the leading horsemen at that track, Troy Taylor. I don’t know much about Taylor, but Coparcenary has a weak-looking past performance line in her only lifetime race, and the barn could cash a nice bet if they have this horse ready to win off the layoff. But I am reluctant to wager on this animal because I don’t have any information that says Taylor is good in this situation.

My Betting Strategy: I will bet $500 to win on #5 Dani’s Sis from 3/1 to 7/1, but reduce the bet to $100 if she goes off at any other odds. At 1:43 pm, I see that with 20 minutes to post Golden Nip and Warren’s Performer are both more than 3/1. Therefore, I will bet $200 to win on whoever goes off the longer of the two, just as long as they are 3/1 or more.

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