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

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $30,000, 3-yo’s, 7 furlongs
Possible overlays                            Morning line
#2 Officer Bavetta                                    9/2
#4 Push Button Magic                             8/1
#6 Sabe                                                          4/1
#7 On a Burner                                           8/1
#12 Thunder of India                              15/1
#13 Hava Cigar                                           9/2
#14 Rass Stone                                           8/1
Based on the median Beyer Speed Figure of 68 needed to win a race at this class, we are looking at a weak group of 14 newly-turned 3-year-olds.
Sure, #2 Officer Bavetta ran a 64 in his last race, on Dec. 1, but he hugged the Hollywood rail the whole way and generally got a great trip. Today, he may get blocked in this large field or jockey Brice Blanc might need to go wide on the turn.  Although today’s distance of 7 furlongs is a forgiving one — with it’s long straightaways on the front and back stretches — a 14-horse field of relatively young horses is a recipe for chaos.
Besides, the types of horses I usually like in these races have a bit more seasoning than Officer Bavetta, who will be making just his fourth lifetime start. They look more like #6 Sabe, who was running with better company in four sprints in the second half of 2011. In his last start, Sabe was subsequently dropped into a $30,000 route. Sabe, who is trained by Michael Machowsky, showed decent early speed while earning Beyer Speed Figures of 61 and 59 in races on Sept. 2 and Oct. 6 respectively.
Yes, Sabe’s last two Beyers were in the 40’s, but his second race back was in the mud on Nov. 6 where he blasted from the gate, setting the pace with a scorching first quarter mile in 21-3/5th seconds and a half mile in 44-3/5ths. After that early gas, I can see why he had nothing left. 
Sabe’s last race was a route, which likely built his stamina for today. In each of Sabe’s last two races he wore blinkers. And today, the blinkers come off.
However, the truth of the matter is that Sabe looks just OK and he could easily be beaten.
Trainer Doug O’Neill claimed #13 Hava Cigar out of his Nov. 10 race, but that horse doesn’t look like anything special either, although he’s also been running against better.
With no standouts in the lineup, I will choose from four lightly-raced horses with good trainers who will pay well if they win. First off, #4 Push Button Magic is making his debut for trainer Ron Ellis. On the downside, this Kentucky bred is a late foal with all slow workouts. But Ellis does well with first-time starters that are at least 3-years-old. In fact, my records show that he won with nine of 28 at less than 20/1, or 32 percent, and every $1 wagered returned $2.68.
Kristin Mulhall trains #7 On a Burner who trailed for most of the race on Dec. 10, but then made a nice little stretch move from the eighth pole to the wire. Many maiden claiming second timers who add blinkers do well and On a Burner is adding the hood today.
Breaking from the outside in a large field carries its own set of risks. Jockeys need to tactically use their horse’s speed to stay out of trouble and avoid going too wide.  Second-time starters #12 Thunder of India and #14 Rass Stone will need good rides in order to win. Jack Carava, who will saddle Thunder of India, doesn’t train many young horses, but he gets them to win early. Although Thunder of India showed absolutely nothing in his first race, he might not have liked the muddy track on Nov. 6.  On that day, Thunder of India — who was purchased as a yearling for $42,000 — was bet to 9-to-1, so somebody liked something about him.
Finally, #14 Rass Stone showed good early speed when he debuted on Dec. 10 and trainer Mike Puype is good with second timers. Also, Rass Stone has been working out fast.
My Betting Strategy:  Because this race is so wide open, I am not going to wager much, yet I’m hoping one of my horses wins at a big price. At odds of 7/2 to 19/1, I will bet $200 to win on #4 Push Button Magic; at 5/1 to 19/1, I’ll put $150 to win on #7 On a Burner; at 10/1 to 19/1, I’ll take $50 on #12 Thunder of India; and finally, at 6/1 to 19/1, I’ll wager $100 on #14 Rass Stone.
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