When bettors debate about who the best trainers are at Santa Anita, horsemen like Mike Mitchell, Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill are usually at the top of everybody’s lists.
So, it was no surprise that in a maiden claiming race where each of these trainers had a runner that one saddled by Mark Tsagalakis would be 23-to-1.
It was a surprise, however, that Tsagalakis’ horse won.
Sure, Cloud Top finished third in his first and only start, but it was against maiden $30,000 claimers and today he was stepping up to $50,000. When I watched the replay of Cloud Top’s Dec. 10 debut, I noticed that he broke slowly to be tenth and I was impressed with the ease of how he blew through the field to be third as the group entered the turn.
But I discounted the move, and never mentioned the gelding in my race preview, because he was facing much cheaper horses back then. I even had an angle: 3-year-old second timers with one fast workout won 9 of 44 races between the odds of 9-to-2 and 19-to-1 in sprints longer than 6-furlongs. These horses returned $1.65 for every $1 bet.
Cloud Top fit perfectly, but once his odds drifted above 20-to-1, I threw him out.
Instead, I put a pile of cash on Mitchell’s runner #3 Towering who ran like a 23-to-1 shot, finishing ninth, but was actually just 5-to-2. I was seduced by Mitchell’s great record with second time starters and the fact that he had really begun to heat up at Santa Anita, winning with his last seven of 15 runners.
Another horse I loved, who also turned out to be a dud, was #7 Charlie Company. In two of his past three races, Charlie Company ran a better Beyer Speed Figure than the median winning Beyer at this level. He was shipping down from Golden Gate and his trainer William Morey is capable, so the price seemed right at 10-to-1.
But Charlie Company finished dead last.
I squandered a few more dollars on exactas, but why go into that.
In the end I lost $830 and my four-race winning streak was stopped cold.
To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.
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