Thursday, Santa Anita Race 8 — post time 4:38 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $30,000, 7 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 68

Possible overlays                 Morning line

#1 Mr Pappagiorgio                     15/1
#2 King Bill                           10/1
#3 The Black                           2/1
#4 I Know That                         8/1
#5 Airplane Mode                       12/1
#8 Patriotic Lion                      4/1
#9 Jamakagoodsense                     8/1
#10 Papa P B                           3/1

Without a doubt, the strongest horse in this race is #3 The Black. Trained by Doug O’Neill, this colt has run in enough races to build the stamina necessary to survive 7 furlongs and his 74 Beyer Speed Figure — albeit earned on the grass — stamps him with the ability to get the job done today. The switch from Blanc to Bejarano should also help lead to good things.

But all of O’Neill’s plans with The Black today could easily be foiled if #8 Patriotic Lion shows the dominant early speed that he’s capable of. On Oct. 1 at 5-1/2 furlongs, Patriotic Lion outbroke eight others in a maiden special weight race while rolling through brilliant fractions of 21-2/5ths seconds for the quarter mile and 44-2/5ths seconds for the half. In Patriotic Lion’s next two races — at 7 furlongs and 1 mile — he unimpressively pressed the pace then faded badly.

And what happened with Patriotic Lion last time he ran is anybody’s guess. On Jan. 21, jockey Freddie Lenclud took Patriotic Lion to the back of the pack then rallied mildly to finish a well-beaten third. On that day, maybe trainer Patrick Biancone was trying to teach Patriotic Lion to rate and it may all pay off today with a wire-to-wire score.

Looking over the past performances, I can’t see any horse that can keep up with Patriotic Lion down the backstretch. Unless one of the first or second time starters surprise by gunning for the lead, then Patriotic Lion should get away with easy early fractions. The only question that will then remain is whether this runner can ration his energy across seven furlongs.

 This colt looks like a horse to use on top in the gimmicks, but not for second or third as he may pop and stop.

Of the five second-time starters, the best bets to hit the board look like #4 I Know That and #10 Papa P B.

In I Know That’s debut on Jan. 21, he trailed down the backstretch over a wet-fast track then was very wide into the lane while passing a few horses to finish seventh. He doesn’t look like much, but adding blinkers today may aid in the dramatic improvement he would need to win. With the other talent in this race, I would need at least 5-to-1 to consider him. 

The far outside horse — Papa P B — has a good chance to run well because trainer Dan Hendricks does better as the sprints get longer. The Daily Racing Form reports that Papa P B has flashed early speed in the morning, but he broke slowly in his only race. This colt is 3-to-1 on the morning line and I will need at least 5-to-1 before I reach into my pocket.

The first time starters have hidden angles in here, so they may fire at big prices. Breaking from the rail, #1 Mr Pappagiorgio has the type of debut breeding that wins 6-1/2 and 7-furlong maiden claiming races. And this gelding’s trainer, Kristin Mulhall, does well in spots like this.

Bertrando, who is the sire of the other firster #5 Airplane Mode, is winning with more than 20 percent of his debut horses on the circuit with post-time odds of less than 20-to-1. Every $1 bet on these runners returned $1.54.  But Airplane Mode’s trainer Tim Yakteen usually does best with horses making their second starts. At odds of 10/1 to 19/1, however, both he and Mr Pappagiorgio may be worth the risk.

If The Black or Patriotic Lion do not fire, then Golden Gate invader King Bill looks like he could pick up the pieces at a fat price. In his last, jockey Russell Baze took King Bill five paths wide on the turn and they drifted into the seven path while entering the stretch. I bumped King Bill’s Beyer Speed Figure from 58 to 65 to make up for the lost ground and just a slight improvement would win most races at this class.

My betting strategy: I am betting $350 to win on #3 The Black at less than 2/1 and $500 to win on him at 2/1 or higher. I will try to hit a decent exacta by excluding #8 Patriotic Lion from the second spot while playing some others. I want $20 exactas 3 with 1, 2, 4, 5.  If #4 I Know That is 5/1 or better, then I will take another $10 exacta box 3,4. And at the same 5/1 or better odds, I will take $100 to win on #4 I Know That.

At 10/1 or more, I want a $10 exacta box 2, 3 and $100 to win on #2 King Bill.

Patriotic Lion may dominate this race, so as a hedge I want a $10 trifecta 8 with 3 with 1, 2, 4, 5.  And a $5 trifecta 8 with 2 with 1, 3, 4, 5.

Finally, at odds of 10/1 to 19/1, I will put $100 on both #1 Mr Pappagiorgio and #5 Airplane Mode.

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