We’ll look at the Classic in detail tomorrow, but today I want to look at three of the higher profile races to be run on Saturday – the Sprint, Juvenile, and Turf.
This is perhaps he most wide open race on the whole card – no horse seems to want to make a claim to this one. Five horses in the nine horse field are 6/1 or lower. The current second choice, at 7/2, seems like he could be the favorite by post time. That’s Midnight Lute, the defending Sprint champion. The public will love his past success, and normally he’d be an attractive horse, but this Bob Baffert trainee has had an odd year. He has run just once, and it was a disaster. He can’t be written off, but he has too many question for my taste. The current favorite, at 3/1, is Street Boss. He makes solid sense here. He’s California based, he has trained well at Santa Anita, his stalking style suits the track well, and he has six wins and two seconds in eight tries this year, including three graded stakes wins. As a Canadian I have to like the Canadian horse, Fatal Bullet, as well. He’s at 6/1, and he presents good value at that price. He has won his last three races over synthetic surfaces, and he has set two track records in that time. My tickets haven’t been firmly established for this race, but they will feature the last two horses mentioned prominently. I’ll also probably look at Cost of Freedom at 4/1. This former claimer has won over Pro-Ride. Not many horses on this whole card can say that.
This race is notoriously hard to figure out, and this is no exception. The favorite in the 13 horse field is Todd Pletcher’s Munnings at 7/2. I don’t like this horse much, and I’m willing to rule him out at that price without too much concern. Instead I will be looking towards a couple of California based horses – Midshipman at 5/1 and Street Hero at 6/1. California horses make sense here – they have finished first and second in every BC Juvenile race run at Santa Anita. Street Hero is coming off a win in the Norfolk, and he has been training like a champ at Santa Anita. Midshipman hasn’t been as sharp recently, but he’s a Bo Baffert trainee, and Baffert doesn’t like to show what he has before a big race, so that doesn’t mean anything. An interesting horse is Bushranger. He is physically imposing and he’s training well, but he’s a European invader. This race is generally not kind to shippers, especially ones from long distances coming to California. I likely won’t have him on top, but he’ll find his way into my exotics.
This race is full of old timers who have had glory days in the past. Better Talk Now and Red Rocks are both past Turf winners, and others have been in the race before. The favorite, 7/2 Soldier of Fortune, is coming off a third place showing in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe. That race was only at the start of October, so the horse could be burned out. He has only run three times this year, though, and he is getting a big upgrade in jockey talent this time out, so he is a legitimate contender. This race is obviously a good place to look at the Euros, and another one that stcks out is Conduit. This one is interesting because he wasn’t expected to be here. His trainer, Michael Stout, is notoriously conservative, but he has won the Turf twice sohe knows his game. The fact that the horse is here makes him worth a look at 6/1. Eagle Mountain is an interesting case that I won’t be touching. After breaking his pelvis last year he has run just once – a win in Dubai in October. It’s hard to know what he’ll show us, but we know he will be well prepared. Trainer Mike de Kock, a South African, has taken over the horse after the injury. He’s one of the few best trainers in the world.