Hello friends, I'm writing this from the wind tunnel known as Western New York today. I can't remember in my lifetime such a mild winter, punctuated my oddities like multiple wind storms and snow lightning. It's felt like spring since, well, fall ended, and I'm not complaining. I will start with saying a quiet prayer for the people in the mid west who are dealing with just hellish tornadoes, the aftermath is what is rolling through my area now. I know what 70 miles per hour feels like, I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to go to sleep and be awakened by nature's killer. Anyway, I know like many of you I turn towards the horses and the track as an escape from the ugliness and the pain of the outside world, but it's hard not to ignore such a tragedy tearing through horse country.
With the season turning towards spring very soon, horse racing season does pick up a notch for me. Older horses running at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter over dirt is my idea of ultimate racing. The Big Cap, The Santa Anita Handicap, is celebrating its 75th running. The race is a treasure of imagination to me: Seabiscuit winning in 1940, Shoemaker up on Round Table and Ack Ack, four straight legends with Affirmed in 79', Spectacular Bid in '80 and John Henry in '81 and '82 with more recent memories the back to back wins of Milwaukee Brew and Lava Man, as well as my favorite older horse Einstein in 2009.
Before we go to far let's look at the track record setting 1979 Affirmed in 1:58.6. How soon till that falls? I don't think today but the way the Arcadian speedway is playing, its only a matter of time.
I'd also be remiss in not mentioning, ah what the hell, showing 2001 Tiznow by special request.
I'm not sure yet how I'm going to play the races, horizontally or vertically, but I've built my base handicaps and they are a bit chalky in the first two legs.
Santa Anita Races 9-10-11
There's no chance of rain and the track should be fast. In Race 9, The Las Virgenes, I sure like Reneeesgotzip; training very sharply and enters fro Trainer Miller (18% last start winners) off a crushing win in Santa Ynez Grade 2. The only thing I don't like is Trainer Miller's Soul patch (just kidding!)
Eden's Moon comes in for Trainer Baffert looking very impressive. Training very sharply with :46 1/5th at 4 furlongs and 1:12 2/5ths at 5 furlongs, as well as an 11 length win in a MSW 56K in January. Stepping up, maybe ready to step out. I'll most likely sit on the sidelines on this race but I will look for value with Willa B Awesome who I'll want >6-1.
The Frank Kilroe Mile is Race 10 and it's hard not to like heavy chalk Mr. Commons, the 4 year old son of Artie Shiller who seems to have come into his own after returning to California following last year's Preakness. Two straight 1 Mile turf wins in the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes and The Arcadia. Trainer Shirreffs and Mike Smith winning 24%of races together at SA.
Jeranimo and Willyconker (Ire) will be close: Willyconker (Ire) came late in the Arcadia and should still be value as a 40K claimer in a Grade 1. I'm thinking top four for Trainer Doug O'Neill.
Jeranimo is 8 of 11 in the money over turf and 5 of 6 in the money over Santa Anita turf and at 6 YO, is the race's career earner at $840,000.
Jeranimo got the better of Mr. Commons in the Oak Tree Mile.
I'm curious about how Jimmy Simms runs and Compari will be in the mix. Jimmy Simms is firing bullets of 1:10 4/5ths and 1:11 3/5ths at 6 furlongs, good stuff, and Asmussen and Nakatani are clipping away at 23% together at SA. Compari dropped back in class and string two wins together, beating Willyconker in an 80K OC in January and is a Grade 2 winner.
In the Big Cap a field of 13 compete and there is an awful lot of quality in this race.
Trainer Mott ships into Santa Anita with Ron the Greek. Why is he here? To win obviously, or Mott would not have picked the spot. he's got the only classic distance win of this group and has gone a mile and a quaretr twice while the rest of the field combined has tried 5 times. I'm looking for value and I think he represents that at >6-1.
As a horse racing fan, I love Ultimate Eagle; Let's watch him crush the Strub field in early February.
Strub G2 1 1/8 Dirt SA
That was his first dirt win and he really throttled Jaycito and Prayers for Relief.
Setsuko and Norvsky have my attention; Dick Mandella in a bit of symmetry trains the gelded son of Pleasantly Perfect. He prepped in an N1X in February and then fired off a 1:12 even at 6 furlongs and a smokin' 1:23 4/5ths at 7 furlongs. He lost by a nose to Game On Dude in the fastest edition of the race last year in 15 years. Norvsky is looking for his first dirt win as a 6 YO, but he is full of class on turf and 13 of 15 in the money over grass. Trainer Warren wins 55% of his Graded Stakes on 11 tries and 20% of his Turf/Dirt Switches, although he's a 25 winner on Dirt and 6% at SA overall.
Uh Oh Bango will draw some attention. Here he is in the San Antonio
The San Antonio G2 1 1/8 Dirt SA
I'm more apt to try Holladay Road or Gladding; Holladay Road is a Cal State bred for Trainer Canani with Bejarano up. A nice 1:11 4/5ths 6f signals good form and Canani is 33% off the 31-60 day layoff. Sadler's Gladding has been freshened since the Ack Ack in November and while training well, Sadler is just 13% off 61-180 day break.
Have fun with this friends, Turk Out!