That fine looking stallion is Unusual Heat, always well represented in California, as he is today with two fine children, horse Unusual Suspect and gelding The Unusual Q.T. Along with the filly Lethal Heat from race six, I find myself admiring greatly the progeny of this proud and beloved animal.
Oak Tree at Santa Anita Race 9, post time 7:00 PM ET; The California Cup Mile Handicap $125,000; 1 Mile on beautiful Arcadian Turf for CA Bred or CA Sired 3 YOs and Up.
Again, in order to get ready for Breeders' Cup, I think it's important to handicap the race track and learn how it plays now, not last spring, not last fall, but now. You can take much from gathering the race charts and analyzing the results, but for me, playing the races teaches me much more then just analyzing. I think the lesson of posting handicaps, good and bad, gives me a sting or a thrill depending on the result, that I retain for a long time.
I am leaning toward the 5 YO Unusual Suspect in this match. When this horse goes into the gate today, he will have done so some twenty times more then the next most experienced runner. 8 Wins in 40 Career efforts, a race best $736,000 in earnings, a race best $173,000 in earnings in 2009, a race best 97 BSF in 2009, a race best 97 BSF on Santa Anita turf, a race best 96 BSF on turf and a race best 95 BSF at the distance. Lots to like especially the drop in distance . Things not to like are the fact he's only won 2 times in last 19 outings and is only 5 of 19 in the money over past two years. Still, good enough to hit the ticket and good enough to finish top four.
Coming off a long layoff, I like Dewey's Special to hit somewhere between 2nd and 4th. 3 of 3 wins in 2009, 7 of 10 lifetime in the money for the 4 YO gelding 4 of 4 in the money on turf and 6 of 6 in the money the past two years. Trainer Ellis wins 29% of last start winners and 29% of his turf starts.
The Usual Q.T. is a lightly raced 3 YO gelding, but 6 of 7 in the money lifetime and 2 of 3 start wins on turf. Posted a nice 1:34.00 at 1 mile on firm turf at Del Mar in early September and Gomez returns to the mount off that effort.
Suit Yourself may surprise and I see an improving 4 YO gelding with sharp work after a career best 92 BSF at 1 mile on the fake stuff at Del Mar in early September. Winless in 6 tries on the Turf, a leap of faith, but could add serious value to the ticket.
I don't see much to separate Enriched, Bert's Law and Skimmetry. Enriched is 5 of 7 in the money in 2009 and comes in off an N1X win at 1 mile on turf. Bert's Law drops in distance and that makes him a bit of a wild card I must plan for. Skimmetry hasn't won since April 2008 but the lightly raced 5 YO is 6 of 7 in the money on Turf with a high 91 BSF.
Have Fun, Turk Out!