Sunday, Santa Anita Race 5 — post time 2:34 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $20,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 4-yo’s and up

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.

Friday, Del Mar Race 4 — 5:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Calif. maiden races

Maiden claiming $25,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3 yo and up

Possible overlays                Morning line

#5 Storm’n Marisa                      8/1
#9 Mo Cheese                           3/1

Yes, Joel Rosario is the leading rider at the meet. And yes, #8 Princess Beau K made a nice middle move in a 7-1/2 furlong race on May 30 that shows she has the talent to win this one.

But Princess Beau K is also the consensus best bet in the Daily Racing Form, with both Mike Hammersly and Brad Free putting her in bold type. So, I am hoping that the public pounds this filly down below 2/1.

That would help set up a decent price on #9 Mo Cheese. Trained by Rafael Becerra, Mo Cheese ran a 71 Beyer Speed Figure as a 2-year-old in December 2008 and followed it up by showing some speed at a mile in January 2009. For her third start, Mo Cheese was dropped from maiden special weight into a claiming sprint where Becerra took her for $40,000 off trainer Doug O’Neill.

Mo Cheese hasn’t run since Feb. 8, 2009, but Becerra has done well over the last few years with this type of maiden. Mo Cheese has the right running style for the distance, and has already earned speed figures that would win many of these low-class events.

Another filly coming off a layoff, #5 Storm’n Marisa looks like she might  enjoy 6-1/2 furlongs based on her decent finish in a 5-1/2 furlong race in December 2009.  This 9-race veteran’s former running style was to go to the front early, but she usually tired in the stretch with that strategy.

In the last few races of her past performances, Storm’n Marisa seemed to ration her energy much better, so she might rate well today. She’s been off since January and has low-percentage connections. But Storm’n Marisa had a bullet workout on July 26 and is a good bet at 10/1 to 19/1.

At odds of 5/2 or more, I will bet $800 to win on #9 Mo Cheese. Also, if #5 Storm’n Marisa’s odds are between 10/1 and 19/1, then I will wager $200 to win on her. But if Storm’n Marisa’s odds are not in the 10/1 to 19/1 zone then I will increase my bet on Mo Cheese to $1,000.

Lastly, if Mo Cheese’s odds are exactly 2/1, then I will reduce my bet on her to $300.


Results: Lost a $300 win bet on #9 Mo Cheese at 2-1.


1 1 Sexy Melody (KY) Pedroza M Meredith D 17.40 4
2 2 Atta’ Girl (CA) Verenzuela J Polanco M 9.30 3
4 3 Bear River (CA) Blanc B Knapp S 42.70 8
5 4 Storm’n Marisa (KY) Bisono A Chew M 8.70 6
6 5 Dancing Lauren (KY) Bejarano R Mulhall K 8.50 1
7 6 Gavita (NM) Medellin A Gonzalez S 11.90 7
8 7 Princess Beau K (CA) Rosario J Eurton P 1.50 2
9 8 Mo Cheese (CA) Garcia M Becerra R 2.00 5
SCR Binky’s Sister (CA) John K Kasparoff J
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $19.00 $5.80 $3.40
8 $3.00 $2.40
2 $4.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $23.10 (6-8)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $162.00 (2-1-6)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $815.40 (6-8-2-1)

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 2 — won $1,375

at-pawn-shops-the-cash-strapped-trade-in-memoriesAlthough he didn’t look like much in the Daily Racing Form, #5 My Man Sumo outclassed this field while dominating the race from start to finish.

It was a tremendous training job by the underrated Rafael Becerra, who does good work bringing maidens off layoffs. He took My Man Sumo over from Wesley Ward after the gelding had run three unspectacular races last summer at Del Mar and Fairplex.

My Man Sumo, who last ran on Sept. 13, had always shown speed, but couldn’t last. Becerra hid this horse’s talent from horseplayers by working him out slowly, but jockey Alex Solis broke him well from the gate and he was never challenged for the lead, winning by four lengths.

The favorite trained by Mike Mitchell, #4 Morton Owen, made a wide run on the turn then flattened out in the stretch while Bob Baffert’s runner #7 Only Be Cause pushed the pace then came up empty late.

I bet $250 on #5 My Man Sumo and collected $2,025. But I also put $400 on #4 Morton Owen, so I profited a total of $1,375 on the race.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 King Farha (CA) Blanc B Metz J 25.60 5
2 2 Marquet Rebel (KY) Talamo J Ellis R 2.50 6
3 3 Cracked Code (FL) Quinonez A Mollica M 15.90 7
4 4 Morton Owen (KY) Bejarano R Mitchell M 1.90 3
5 5 My Man Sumo (KY) Solis A Becerra R 7.10 1
6 6 Domestic Gold (MD) Sorenson D Gallagher P 43.10 2
7 7 Only Be Cause (KY) Rios J Baffert B 2.10 4
Pgm Win Place Show
5 $16.20 $9.60 $5.20
6 $26.20 $8.00
4 $3.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $202.90 (5-6)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $873.80 (5-6-4)
$2.00 Daily Double paid

Sunday, Santa Anita Race 2 — 1 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $32,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3 yo’s

Possible overlays                        Morning line

#4 Morton Owen                             2/1
#5 My Man Sumo                            5/1
#7 Only Be  Cause                           5/2

Trainer Mike Mitchell is usually dominant in a race like this, but the one equal he has in maiden races is Bob Baffert. Both trainers start contending horses in this race.

Mitchell’s runner #4 Morton Owen ran a 76 Beyer Speed Figure in a maiden claiming $85,000 sprint on Feb. 16. But then the trainer ran Morton Owen in two route races and it didn’t seem like he could handle the competition. He should run better with the class drop and cut back in distance.

On the far outside, #7 Only Be Cause missed by a nose in his last, which was at the same class and distance for Baffert. Only Be Cause has been running Beyer Speed Figures that are right in the range of the median winning number of 68 for the class. He’s been caught wide in his most recent races and with this post position he may get a wide trip once again.

Over the past couple of years, Rafael Becerra has won several maiden races with horses coming back off long recent layoffs. Today, he saddles #5 My Man Sumo who showed speed in his previous races and could do the job at a price.

I will bet $250 on #5 My Man Sumo between 2/1 and 9/1, but I’ll reduce the wager to $100 if he’s 10/1 or more.

Also, I want $300 to win on #4 Morton Owen at 8/5 to 3/1 only, but if outside that range then I’ll opt for $200 on #7 Only Be Cause instead, as long as he’s at least 2/1.

Results, Santa Anita Wednesday Race 6 — won $840

imgres21Trainer Rafael Becerra continued his success with recently laid off horses by getting #3 Raise Again to the winner’s circle at 4-to-1. 

Over the last two years, Becerra has won with this same move at least six times, paying anywhere from $10 to $23.

No doubt, in this race, Raise Again got a perfect trip. Jockey Martin Garcia laid five lengths off dueling long shots #7 Black Point and #9 Makor’s Girl, who blazed through fractions of 21.88 seconds for the quarter mile and 44.62 seconds for the half.

That is really motoring for a 6-1/2 furlong race for $25,000 maiden claimers and both of them staggered home in the stretch. Raise Again came on the outside and “powered away” by 3-1/2 official lengths, according to the equibase chart caller.

In the wagering, I planned to bet $300 on Raise Again at 2-to-1 to 7-to-2, but reduce my outlay to $200 at 4-to-1 or higher. I was a bit unfortunate as the odds on Raise Again sat below 4-to-1 until the final minute when he blinked up to his final price of 4.2-to-1. So, I ended up betting $200 on him instead of $300. 

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Ms Honkytonk Woman (CA) Couton J Shidaker D 72.30 8
2 2 Love Song Mellody (KY) Court J Cho M 5.10 2
3 3 Raise Again (CA) Garcia M Becerra R 4.20 1
4 4 Secret Potion (CA) Rosario J Hollendorfer J 1.90 3
5 5 Good Girl Chelsie (CA) Sorenson D Stute G 65.40 6
7 6 Black Point (KY) Williams D DeLima J 26.40 5
8 7 Natpolean (CA) Espinoza V Gallagher P 1.60 7
9 8 Makor’s Girl (WA) Fong, Jr. F Ho H 20.90 4
SCR Connie the Queen (KY) Quinonez A Matties G
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $10.40 $5.20 $3.60
2 $6.00 $3.80
4 $3.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $37.30 (4-2-6)
$1.00 Exacta paid $22.00 (3-2)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $254.30 (4-2-3)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $404.60 (3-2-4-9)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $77.90 (3-2-4)
$2.00 Consolation Double paid $10.40 (4-6)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $68.80 (2-3)
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