Results, Thursday (Jan. 26) Santa Anita Race 6 — lost $830

Jockey Brice Blanc got longshot Cloud Top home for trainer Mark Tsagalakis.

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

1 1 Midnight Con (FL) Maldonado E O’Neill D 10.90 4
2 2 Cruxus (FL) Santiago Reyes C Cerin V 58.00 8
3 3 Towering (KY) Rosario J Mitchell M 2.50 9
4 4 Cloud Top (KY) Blanc B Tsagalakis M 23.00 1
5 5 Tummel (KY) Flores D Sherman A 4.90 3
6 6 Ron Burgundy (KY) Nakatani C Glatt M 53.60 5
7 7 Charlie Company (KY) Espinoza V Morey, Jr. W 10.50 11
8 8 Visible Marq (FL) Garcia M Baffert B 3.50 6
9 9 Congrats Ski (KY) Bejarano R Walsh K 4.20 2
10 10 Awesome Mike (AZ) Pedroza M Owens R 21.00 10
11 11 Outperform (CA) Flores E Hendricks D 35.50 7
Pgm Win Place Show
4 $48.00 $21.40 $11.20
9 $7.00 $4.80
5 $3.80
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $143.00 (4-9)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $15078.70 (6-2-4)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $4917.30 (4-9-5-1)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $1109.90 (4-9-5)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $412.80 (2-4)
Fractional Times
22.25, 45.00, 1:10.05, 1:23.11

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.

Wednesday, Del Mar Race 8 — 5:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 6 furlongs, 2 yo fillies 

Possible overlays                             Morning line 

#2 Excellent Point                                    6/1
#4 Della Mia                                            20/1
#10 Miss Apricot                                      20/1 

Clifford Sise, who is the trainer of #2 Excellent Point, does well with first time starters in this class. This filly has all slow workouts, but this trainer typically trains his debuters slowly in the morning then runs them fast in the afternoon. 

Sise, who also owns Excellent Point, chose jockey Jose Verenzuela even though this rider has ridden just 20 mounts at the meet, winning two times. Sise uses top riders at times, but he is just as likely to leg up low profile jocks like Danny Sorenson, Iggy Puglisi or Brice Blanc. In fact, Sise used 22 different riders on his 48 debuters I have listed for him in my database, so he spreads the work around throughout the jockey colony. 

A couple of more first timers that might have a shot if they show any betting action are #4 Della Mia and #10 Miss Apricot. 

At the window, I will bet $1,000 to win on #2 Excellent Point at 2/1 to 9/1, but just $300 at 10/1 to 19/1. 

If the odds on either #4 Della Mia or #10 Miss Apriocot fall between 10/1 and 19/1, then I will wager $100 on them.

Results, Del Mar Wednesday Race 1 — won $1,375

imgresBy looking at the post time odds, it’s easy to see that the public could not separate these horses. Six of the seven fillies were between 9-to-2 and 8-to-1 with only #5 Stevie’s Afleet, an 8-to-5 shot, being bet out of that range.

As the race began, #1 Auntgrace battled for the lead inside of Stevie’s Afleet with #6 Hard Eight just a half a length away. They ran that way until the top of the stretch when Hard Eight faded and both #3 Miss Anime and #7 Ancillary made their late runs.

Jockey Brice Blanc, who was riding Miss Anime, couldn’t find daylight in early stretch, so he was forced to take the filly seven paths wide in midstretch. Just inside of Miss Anime was Ancillary with Joel Rosario aboard. These two rallied past Auntgrace, who was nailed for third by #2 Bit of a Lady cruising up the rail.

In my race preview, I noted that second time starters that look like Miss Anime are good bets at 5/2 to 9/1 and I wagered $250 on her. But I also had another $350 spread over three other horses. Anyway, I collected $1,975 and profited $1,375 on the race. 

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Auntgrace (FL) Gryder A Mullins J 5.60 4
2 2 Bit of a Lady (KY) Baze T Hofmans D 7.20 3
3 3 Miss Anime (KY) Blanc B Powell L 6.90 1
4 4 Sheza Screamer (WA) Baze M Troeger R 8.40 5
5 5 Stevie’s Afleet (KY) Garcia M Cerin V 1.70 7
6 6 Hard Eight (KY) Smith M Headley B 5.80 6
7 7 Ancillary (KY) Rosario J Jones M 4.90 2
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $15.80 $7.20 $5.40
7 $6.20 $3.80
2 $4.60
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $48.20 (3-7)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $328.80 (3-7-2)
$2.00 Quinella paid $47.80 (3-7)

Results, Santa Anita Saturday Race 3 — lost $250

Comeandcatchme, #11, paid a shocking $140 to win for trainer Art Sherman

Comeandcatchme, #11, paid a shocking $140 to win for trainer Art Sherman

This group of maiden claimers appeared to be weak, as none of them approached the winning 68 median Beyer Speed Figure for this class in their past performances.

Therefore, a case could be made for spreading deep and landing on a 65-to-1 shot like #11 Comeandcatchme. But the way I look at these races is that the people who hit this horse will probably play more than 100 bombs before they cash another at 65-to-1.

In other words, in the long run it doesn’t pay to play these huge prices.

Comeandcatchme, who was making his second lifetime start for trainer Art Sherman, took the lead out of the gate in her Feb. 5 debut then faded away with very little urging from jockey Brice Blanc. On Saturday, this filly stalked the pace behind #10 Champagneforchelle and drew away in the stretch.

I bet $150 on first-time starter #4 Serena’s Echo and $100 to win on #8 Jet Set Lass, but neither of them hit the board.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

2 1 Connie D (CA) Enriquez I Weckerle K 58.80 10
3 2 Tan Tan (FL) Garcia M Rosales R 20.10 9
5 3 Humane (CA) Sorenson D Meredith D 23.40 3
6 4 It’s Partytime (KY) Talamo J Sherlock G 3.20 4
7 5 Comeandcatchme (KY) Blanc B Sherman A 20.30 11
8 6 A Taco Short (KY) Baze M Guillot E 4.80 2
9 7 Not So Plain Jane (CA) Quinonez A Aguirre P 13.00 8
10 8 Jeann D’ Arc (CA) Rios J Mendoza J 12.50 5
11 9 Woman Gone Wild (NM) Rosario J Moger, Jr. E 14.40 7
12 10 Shawnie Ora (CA) Espinoza V Hess, Jr. R 2.80 1
13 11 Tuesdayatsbicca’s (KY) Flores D Kruljac J 5.50 6
SCR Minor Issues (CA)    
SCR Telatrish (CA) Sutherland C Knapp S
Pgm Win Place Show
12 $7.60 $4.20 $3.00
8 $6.00 $4.80
5 $6.80
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $56.80
%d bloggers like this: