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.

 

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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.

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