Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 75
Possible overlays Morning line
#1 Midnight Con 6/1
#2 Cruxus 20/1
#3 Towering 4/1
#7 Charlie Company 6/1
#8 Visible Marq 7/2
#9 Congrats Ski 4/1
After a slow start to the Santa Anita meet, trainer Mike Mitchell is on fire right now. According to the Daily Racing Form, Mitchell has won with seven of his last 15 runners and he saddles second-time starter #3 Towering in this event.
Mitchell has an outstanding record with maiden claiming second-time starters and he is even better when those horses are running in 6-1/2 and 7 furlong races. Towering, who ran evenly in his Dec. 8 debut at Gulfstream Park, was previously trained by Joseph Catanese III. With the trainer shift, Towering should significantly improve based solely on the colt moving from an 8 percent horseman, Catanese, to Mitchell, who won with 32 percent of his starters in 2011.
Also, Mitchell will leg up Joel Rosario on Towering and this combination his won with 15 of their last 34 runners for a return of $2.49 for every $2 wager.
But, by no means is this a one-horse race. Hard-knockers like #1 Midnight Con and #7 Charlie Company could easily win by merely repeating some of their previous races.
Trainer William Morey is bringing Charlie Company down from Golden Gate where this gelding hit the board in his last three starts. In two of the three, Charlie Company earned a better Beyer Speed Figure than the median winning number of 75 when I adjusted for the ground lost on the turn. Charlie Company’s running style is to break in the middle of the pack, and although Santa Anita favors speed more than Golden Gate, this gelding has a great chance today.
Doug O’Neill claimed #1 Midnight Con away from trainer Jeff Mullins for $30,000 on Jan. 20. Midnight Con’s best race was on Dec. 4 when he came within three-quarters of a length of the winner while running against $50,000 maiden claimers. However, only three horses ran in that race, so he had a perfect trip.
On Jan. 20, Midnight Con had the lead in the stretch, but ran out of gas going a mile. He has an outside chance, but I like Charlie Company better.
Another horse who has run some interesting races is #9 Congrats Ski. In this gelding’s second lifetime start on Dec. 17, Congrats Ski broke in the air and bumped the horse inside of him to lose at least a length. He then lost more ground when circling the field wide on the turn, yet still he ran a 68 Beyer, which I upgraded to 75.
On Jan 7, in Congrats Ski’s first start over the Santa Anita dirt, he pressed the pace chasing Consulado who was motoring through fractions of 21-2/5th seconds for the quarter-mile and 44-seconds flat for the half. Consulado, who is likely a future stakes winner, cruised to a 7-1/4 length victory while Congrats Ski’s jockey saw the chase was futile and breezed him throughout the stretch.
Congrats Ski has early speed, is dropping into maiden claiming for the first time today, and trainer Kathy Walsh does well when employing jockey Rafael Bejarano. Congrats Ski looks solid.
I wouldn’t care too much for #8 Visible Marq, except that his trainer is Bob Baffert, so he must be considered. In his previous race on Jan. 5, Visible Marq ran second to wire-to-wire winner Sir Allison, his barnmate, to complete a Bob Baffert exacta.
In that race, Rosario broke Visible Marq in the middle of the pack, then came with a nice stretch run to earn a 73 Beyer Speed Figure. This colt, who sports several quick workouts, was purchased as a 2-year-old for $50,000 and seems to be placed in the right spot for his third start.
The main knocks on both Congrats Ski and Visible Marq, however, are that they are lightly raced. At 7-furlongs, their lack of experience might be difficult to overcome. It’s true that Towering is also making just his second start, but Mitchell seems to have his second-timers ready to tackle all obstacles.
Finally, #2 Cruxus and #6 Ron Burgandy are both new geldings with good angles in their favor. If their odds stay below 20-to-1, then I’m slightly interested.
My betting strategy: I will be satisfied if at post time I am sitting with win money on #3 Towering at 5/2 and #7 Charlie Company at 9/2. Considering their morning line odds are 4/1 and 6/1 respectively, that doesn’t seem too unreasonable.
Because Mitchell’s horses tend to run better when less than 7/2, I will put $400 to win on #3 Towering at 3/1 or less, but $200 to win at 7/2 or higher. At odds of 5/2 or more, I will put $300 to win on #7 Charlie Company.
If #9 Congrats Ski is 5/1 or more, then I want $50 exactas 9 with 3,7.
If #2 Cruxus and #6 Ron Burgandy are between 10/1 and 19/1, then I want $50 to win on Cruxus and $100 to win on Ron Burgandy. Also, I will take $10 exactas 3,7,9 with 2,6.
Finally, if Charlie Company is 9/2 or more, then I’ll bet $50 exacta 3 with 7; $30 exactas 8, 9 (any odds) with 7; $20 exactas 1 with 7; and $5 exactas 2,6 (if less than 20/1) with 7.