In my race preview, I avoided One Fast Frog because she was lightly raced and figured to be a short price. However, this filly was dropping in class from maiden special weight, and two races back on Oct. 20 she ran a 69 Beyer Speed Figure, which was just two points away from the winning median Beyer for this level of 71.
She looked good, which is why One Fast Frog paid just $5.
Instead, I took a shot on #3 Cee’s the Year. Trained by Ron Ellis, this was another filly who was a lightly-raced dropper that had a big race on her resume. On Oct. 2, Cee’s the Year, was steadied hard out of the gate by jockey Victor Espinoza. And by the time she got her stride back, she’d lost an estimated eight lengths.
She rallied well to earn a 60 Beyer, but I thought she could do much better with a clean break.
However, she never threatened in this race. When the gates opened, Cee’s the Year broke toward the rear of the seven-horse field. She showed some fleeting hope on the turn by responding to Espinoza’s urging while passing three horses.
On the front end, though, One Fast Frog was opening up a commanding six-length lead and Cee’s the Year had left herself too much to do.
She continued to hug the rail, but seemed to be all out to finish a disappointing third, some eight lengths behind the winner. After Cee’s the Year earned just a meager 55 Beyer, I was out $300.
To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.