This Saturday, March 5th, will mark the inaugural 1/ST Saturday in horse racing. The owner of Santa Anita and Gulfstream, The Stronach Group, have decided to make two super cards for racing, and allow limited cross wagering. In this blog I will offer my thoughts on most of the stakes races, as well as some of my best bets at the end. Hope you all enjoy!
Spot Play: To kick off the card, I am going to use a daily double and try to build some bankroll. There was only one standout in the first race, the #8 Gold Phoenix. This will only be the horses third career lifetime start, with the first being a win overseas in Ireland. Following that race, the horse took over a year to make his second career start. Gold Phoenix broke slow, made up ground and barely lost to a horse that went on to win his next race. Gold Phoenix also received a Beyer speed figure of 88 for that effort, which is by far the highest last out number in this field. Accounting for all of the trip trouble, Gold Phoenix was much the best in his last race. I expect him to take another huge step forward and a win by multiple lengths is my expectation here. In Race 2, I will be pairing with the Bob Baffert entry of #4 Taiba and #5 Mauritius. Taiba was a $1.7M purchase making his first career start for Baffert, and the horse has been working lights out. The workouts for the #5 Mauritius are less impressive but he manages to draw Prat and the presence of Taiba means we will probably get a square price. With a 12 horse field on turf, I imagine we should get somewhere around 2-1 on Gold Phoenix in the first, if that is the case I will be playing Win/Place bet as well.
Race #4 G2 San Carlos Stakes 7F DIRT
First impression here says that there is A LOT of pace signed on here. Out of the all of the horses who play into the pace, the #1 Brickyard Ride is the fastest and I expect him to be prominent in the pace scenario. Brickyard Ride was able to pull off the upset last year when he got an easy pace and lead them wire to wire. I do not expect that to happen again this year. Expect the #3 Canadian Pride and #8 Eight Rings to be on or near the lead and insure an honest pace. I think that will make the race setup really well for #4 Cezzane and the #9 Shooters Shoot who should be coming off of the pace. Cezzane is a horse I have had a hard time knowing what to make of him. He has won 3 of 5 lifetime, but there really isn’t a win thus far that you can use as an example of him being an elite horse. With that said, I do expect him to take another step forward with it being his second race off a long layoff and I think 7 furlongs is his ideal distance. I would expect Cezzane to be competing for favoritism on the tote board here as well. The #9 Shooters Shoot is a horse that I have always liked and we always seem to get a fair price on him. This will be the second race off of the claim for Richard Baltas and the first race was a career best. Another step forward, with an off the pace running style, can put him squarely into the mix here.
Race #5 G2 Buena Vista Stakes 1M TURF
This may very well be the most wide-open race on this card. There is an argument to be made for every horse in this race. Also, on paper, a majority of these horses have all done their best work or won most of their races when leading at every pole. Which leaves me inclined to believe that this race will setup well for a horse that wants to come from off of the lead or make a late run. The two horses I like that fit the bill here are the #1 Closing Remarks and #3 Keeper Of Time. Both of these horses look to be improving, and want to make a perfectly timed late run. The #1 Closing Remark is trained by Carla Gaines, who may not be as nationally known as some of the others on the form today, but she is more than capable and usually has horses fire at nice odds at Santa Anita. The #3 Keeper Of Time comes in from Gulfstream and won last out, albeit on a synthetic surface. The previous race the horse closed from 10th to finish 4th on a southern Florida turf course that isn’t always conducive to horses making up ground late. The other horses in this race who I liked are the #2 Tony Ann, #7 Avenue de France, #10 Going To Vegas and the #11 Mucho Unusual.
Race #6 G2 San Felipe Stakes 1 1/16th M DIRT
This race is what is referred to as a “Derby Prep” or “Points Race”, meaning that the Top 4 finishers will receive points towards qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. The format is 50-20-10-5, meaning the winner will automatically qualify for the Kentucky Derby starting gate, and the second place finisher probably will as well this year. In the previous paragraph, the discussion revolved around how wide open that race was, well this race is the opposite, in my eyes. In a field featuring 7 runners, I was able to write off four horses as win contenders. That leaves us with the #6 Forbidden Kingdom and the two horses trained by Bob Baffert, the #5 Doppleganger and the #3 Armagnac. In their last race, Forbidden Kingdom was able to beat Doppleganger by multiple lengths. At this level of horse racing, Doppleganger turning the tables wouldn’t be a huge shock, but I am siding with Forbidden Kingdom here. This would be a huge step up for Armagnac who is coming off of a maiden-breaking win. They say “Pace Makes The Race” and I expect Forbidden Kingdom to be on the lead and to be able to dictate terms here, which is why he will be my top choice.
Race #9 G1 Beholder Mile 1M DIRT
For a field only consisting of six horses, I find this to be a competitive race. Based on speed figures, the #3 As Time Goes By and the #6 Envoutante loom large on paper. I would not be shocked in the least if we get a great stretch duel from these two horses. Both are coming off of a layoff here, but that doesn’t worry me when we recognize who the trainers are for these horses. Bob Baffert trains As Time Goes By and Kenny McPeek trains Envoutante. We all know Baffert can have a horse ready to fire off of the bench, and I doubt McPeek would ship to Santa Anita if he didn’t believe his horse had a huge shot to win. The horse that really intrigues me here, though, is the #1 Varda. The horse has not raced since December of 2020, when she won a Grade 1 stakes race at odds of 17-1. Her Beyer speed figures look light, but remember, those are from when she was a two year old. The horse is 4 now and most likely much more mature. What I said about Baffert having a horse ready to fire off of a long layoff applies to her as well, as the horse has been training since September of 2021 for this spot. Based off of those factors, we can probably expect to get a nice price here on her here in this spot.
Race #10 G1 Frank Kilroe Mile 1M TURF
Another race here that I think can produce a winner at a price; there were a few horses here that caught my eye. The #3 Beyond Brilliant should be on the lead in a race that doesn’t to look have much pace signed on. Beyond Brilliant is trained by John Sherrifs, a trainer who is known for being conservative with the placement of his horses, so for him to run a horse here in a Grade 1 stakes, I am taking that as a sign of confidence. The second horse I liked in here was the #6 Law Professor. This is a horse I have liked since he broken his maiden in his second career race, and he looks to be really improving as of late. In his most recent race, he was second to Express Train, who will be heavily favored in the “Big Cap” on this card. Two races back, he beat the aforementioned Beyond Brilliant by half a length. Out of his eight career races, only two have been on the turf, resulting in one win and one third place finish. Due to the lack of experience on the turf and this being a Grade 1 event, I think he will be a fair price on the tote board. The third and final choice I found intriguing here was the #8 Space Traveler. Jamie Spencer who is a leading jockey overseas will ride him, and he has no other mounts on the card as of writing this. What that means is that Spencer gave up days of riding elsewhere to come to the United States just to ride this horse, in this race. He rode the horse in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational back in January, and that was a race that I thought Space Traveler should have won. Space Traveler encountered a lot of trip trouble and made up ground when he was finally able to get a little running room. The horse was 12-1 in the PGWCT, I doubt his price gets anywhere near that this time. Other horses I liked were the #2 Subconscious and the #4 Count Again.
Race #11 G1 Santa Anita Handicap 1 1/4th M DIRT
This race is one of the most prestigious races in the country for older horses, and was made famous in the movie Seabiscuit. The #6 Express Train looms large over this field. With that said, he has yet to win a race over this distance (3-0-1-2 Lifetime). I do think the circumstances setup very well for him to capitalize here but there were a couple of others in here I liked as well. The #8 Stilleto Boy past running lines are filled with quality horses. He has been competitive over the last few races, only losing to the likes of Knicks Go, Life Is Good, Medina Spirit and Flightline. One of those was a Kentucky Derby winner (Kind Of) and the other three are the best in the world on dirt. He should get a chance to take a step forward and this field is much easier than what he has been facing for the last year. The intriguing long shot in here is the #4 Soy Tapatio. He carries the least amount of weight and seems to really love Santa Anita (3-2-1-0 Lifetime). He was a lightly raced horse and has seemed to improve with every race. Another step forward here isn’t out of the question. Diego Herrera, whom I believe to be one of, if not the best, young jockey’s in the United States, will ride Soy Tapatio in this race.
Race #3 G3 Canadian Turf Stakes 1 1/16th M TURF
Looking through the past performances I zeroed in on two horses pretty quickly. The first one was the #2 Never Surprised. Not only is he probably the best horse in the race, there is a good chance he could be alone on the lead, which would make him very tough to beat here. He was second in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational last out, and he will face no one in here like he was up against in that race. He absolutely loves this track and I expect another big effort here. The other horse is the #7 Mouilllage who is trained by legendary turf trainer Chad Brown. Mouillage will be making his first start in the United States, coming in from France. The turf racing overseas is in a completely different class than it is here in the United States, and this horse more than held his own in France. I expect this horse to run a huge race, as it is probably the easiest field he has faced in quite some time. Chad Brown is also a master with importing these types of horses and is winning at 37% clip with horses making their first start in the US.
Race #5 G3 The Very One Stakes 1 3/8th M TURF
This race is another race I would consider wide open and I would probably use four horses if I were playing multi race wagers here. First, I want to discuss a horse here I am absolutely against, and that would be the #6 Mezcal who is owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. I guess the argument here would be that the horse has the chance to be the lone speed in the race. This field is much better than anything she has faced thus far, and it would require a huge step up for this horse to win. I won’t be using this horse on any of my tickets or bets. In terms of contenders that I like, lets start with the #2 Harajuku. The horse was a Group 3 winner overseas and barely missed last out here in the United States. I expect this horse to be sitting just off of the lead and expect her to be one of the first to get a shot at the leader when they turn for home. Maybe this time she can finish the race. The #5 Virginia Joy was also a Group 3 winner overseas as well, and makes her first start off of a layoff here for Chad Brown. Irad Ortiz Jr. who is one of, if not, the top jockey in the United States will ride the horse. The morning line suggests the price will be around 2/1 on Virginia Joy, however I expect it to be shorter than that. For a horse that has yet to win in almost a year, I am inclined to look elsewhere, but would use on my tickets. The #7 Family Way is a horse I expect would be 10-1 or higher, and coming off of a long layoff for trainer Brenden Walsh. This horses best races are good enough to win here, so if you are looking for a big price or playing in a contest, this would be my selection. The #8 Beautiful Lover and #9 Sorrel are basically the same horse, in my eyes, and only a neck separated them last time out. I will be using both in this race as well.
Race #6 G2 Davona Dale 1M DIRT
This race is a prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, which is the female version of the Kentucky Derby. The first thing that was noticeable was that most of these horses have the same running style. Most of these horses want to sit off of the pace and then make a run when turning for home. This may mean that the #3 Girl With A Dream gets an easy lead and takes the field wire to wire. However, I will be betting on the #4 Outfoxed to get the victory here. Her last race was an eye-catching win, which is even more impressive when you factor in she had not raced in 4 months. The only loss Outfoxed has suffered was to Echo Zulu, who is undefeated and was the top 2-year-old filly in the country. One horse that will be a short price here that I am against is the #2 Classy Edition. She is undefeated, but all three wins have come in races restricted to horses bred in New York. This is a huge step up in competition. Trainer Todd Pletcher has sounded confident regarding Classy Edition, so fade with caution. No risk it, no biscuit.
Race #10 G2 Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes 1M DIRT
This is a rematch of #3 Speaker’s Corner and the #4 Fearless. Both horses threw down last time, and they finished 10 lengths clear of third. I looked really hard to find someone else I thought could be a viable contender, and I just couldn’t see it. Maybe there is an argument to be made for the #7 Endorsed. He comes out of the Pegasus World Cup, where he finished 4th Endorsed’s best work has come at 7 furlongs so the stretch out to a mile here should play to his favor. Using him in trifecta bets is advised.
Race #12 G2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes 1/16th M DIRT
Let’s get to the main event of the evening. This is another points paying prep race for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. The Fountain Of Youth Stakes offers the most accomplished field we’ve seen in preps thus far. My top choice, and whom I expect to go off as the favorite, is the #8 Emmanuel. Hype around this horse has been building since before he ever raced. His path to the Kentucky Derby is similar to that of 2017 Derby winner Always Dreaming, also trained by Todd Pletcher. Top jockey Luis Saez will ride Emmanuel in this race. Pletcher has said all of the right things leading up to this race; I expect a big effort here from Emmanuel. The #2 Simplification is the morning line favorite, but I feel he may be a little overplayed in this spot. He missed the break last out and made up ground to be second. I expect him to be closer to the lead in this race. In Due Time, who will wear #4 in this race, is another horse I feel may be over bet. His last race was a sizable win, but I do not think he beat the greatest of fields. If you are looking for a horse to put into your exacta’s or trifecta’s at a price, the #10 Giant Game looks like a solid bounce back prospect. He had some physical issues in his last race but the fact they bring him back this quickly is a good sign.
Race 1: Daily Double 8/4,5
The daily double in horse racing is the sports betting equivalent of a two-leg parlay. We’re essentially betting that Gold Phoenix will win the first race and then we’ll need either Baffert horse to win to complete our score. Needing Baffert for a score is usually a good position to be in. Having multiple Baffert horses to finish off a score is a GREAT position to be in.
Race 4: 1,4,6,9 Tri Box
We’re going to take the 4 horses here who I think are heads above the rest of the field, and let the chips lie where they may.
Race 3: Daily Double 2,7/14
Dependent upon the 14 drawing into the field, we’re playing another Daily Double. Taking two horses in the first leg who are much better than the competition, then we will be relying on a young horse to take a step forward in his second career start.
Race 12: Win/Place on the #8 Emmanuel
Truthfully, I think Emmanuel may be the very best 3 year old in this years crop. I expect to get around 2/1 on him in this race. If you are in the futures market, he can still be found at 20-1 at some offshore books. A win in the Fountain of Youth this weekend will most likely make him the favorite to win the 2022 Kentucky Derby.
Follow along on Twitter @WinWinWinners as I will be tweeting out other plays throughout the day on Saturday. For you degenerates who like to bet early, we will be up playing the Super Saturday card at Meydan. Nothing like betting horses in the morning! I will also post a Pick 5 ticket for the All-Dirt Stakes for 1/ST on Saturday as well. For those of you who like boom or bust bets, multi race wagers like the Pick 4 or Pick 5 are for you. Feel free to reach out with any questions regarding horse racing or lingo related to it as well.