5/13/2017 Santa Anita Park-Race 5
The Lazaro Barrera-$200,000—Grade III
7 Furlongs on Dirt for Three-Year-Olds
Post Time: 3:03 P.M. PST
Analysis by Michael Patricks
The 143rd Kentucky Derby is in the books and Always Dreaming is headed to Pimlico Race Course for next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes with hopes of becoming racing’s thirteenth Triple Crown winner. As of now, there are approximately 11 probables for the Preakness Stakes. Likely entrants returning from the Kentucky Derby will be runner-up Lookin at Lee and eleventh-place finisher Hence for trainer Steve Asmussen; fourth-place finisher Classic Empire for Mark Casse; and seventh-place finishing Gunnevera for Antonio Sano. New shooters scheduled to run include: Royal Mo (3rd in the Santa Anita Derby) for trainer John Shirreffs; Term of Art (7th in the Santa Anita Derby) for trainer Doug O’Neill; Multiplier (winner of the Illinois Derby) for Brendan Walsh; Senior Investment (winner of the Lexington Stakes) for Ken McPeek, Cloud Computing (3rd in the Wood Memorial) for Chad Brown; and Conquest Mo Money (2nd in the Arkansas Derby) for trainer Miguel Hernandez.
A dozen three-year-olds combined will do battle in two graded stakes spanning across the country this weekend. The Belmont hosts the Peter Pan at nine furlongs while Santa Anita Park is the site of the Laz Barrera at 7 panels. After printing up the past performances and some mild deliberation in the cockpit, the Laz Barrera wet my whistle far more than the Peter Pan so let’s fasten our pilot’s cover and plot our course due south to Southern California for the weekend analysis in this palate cleanser before next weekend’s satiating, second course.
1-American Anthem 2/1 ML- I’ve happily lined up to try and beat this colt in each of his starts this year and will be more than happy to stand in line behind 10-cent Superfecta string bettors if I have to just to bet against him once again on Saturday. American Anthem has big time talent and will be backed by Baffert supporters at the windows yet again but there seems to be plenty of impeachment evidence on paper if you’re building a case to defeat him once again. He’s beat a combined total of two horses home in his last two starts and has been the victim of early round knockouts in both those races. In the Rebel, he broke a bit dull and never ran a step at 8/5. Last time in the Santa Anita Derby, he was part of the early pace brigade but called it a day at the 3/8ths pole, finishing 12th and beaten double digits. It makes all the sense in the world to shorten him up and those that drinketh from the cup of Mike Smith til it runneth over will be pleased as punch to see him return back in this one’s saddle. He’ll need to break running from the fence at a short price and avoid dueling with Sutton Impact and second-choice Aristocratic in order to see this out. He’s not been the same horse since losing the Sham in a tremendously long stretch battle with Gormley and it seems likely the other speed will be disinclined to give him a breather; admittedly poking the bear a bit but since when must gamblers be patriotic?
2-Kimbear 3/1 ML- Sixth time was the proverbial charm for Kimbear, breaking the maiden over the Santa Anita main track and at today’s distance of seven furlongs. Kimbear put it all together on February 25th, tracking the leaders before sling-shotting to an open lengths score over Sonneteer (16th in the Kentucky Derby). Trainer Ian Kruljac put five weeks of training into this colt and entered him in the Santa Anita Derby where he drew some wagering support at 10/1 and performed decently, finishing sixth while beaten just five lengths. Backing up from nine furlongs to seven in the Laz Barrera should have him finishing with gusto and the ‘Bear draws a cozy inside slot to spy some cover and bring his best effort. Kimbear shows three zesty works since the Santa Anita Derby including a five-eighths blowout at Santa Anita last Saturday which was as sharp as a Ginsu knife. There’s little to no doubt he’ll be a prominent factor at the quarter-pole and obviously is one to fear late. His win-shy nature he’s displayed at times is a rather large concern since he once again faces the starter with quality animals all around him. Expect him to get bet like a wise-guy horse at post time and don’t be surprised to see him lay his body down in the lane; very scary.
3-Bobby Abu Dhabi 4/1 ML- Came back to the races with a full head of steam after having his head handed to him by Mastery in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity in December. After impaling winners in his comeback effort, ‘Bobby shortened up a touch in the San Pedro at odds-on and finished second. ‘Bobby ran well after shifting outside of horses from his inside draw but proved no match for the runaway train performance of Aristocratic. The latter put away the other challengers from his inside draw before pulling dominating the race inside the final sixteenth. ‘Bobby regressed 25 Beyer points from his career debut to his second start and similarly regressed seven Beyer points in his second start off the layoff in the San Pedro. It appears on paper that trainer Peter Miller has galloped ‘Bobby off the San Pedro to give him more air in the tires and note the handy bullet in his holster from three days ago. ‘Bobby may have bounced off the big number in the San Pedro at even money, but today you get a chance to bounce back with him at 4/1. Count me in as he’s the sneaky choice.
4-Taxman’s Quest 12/1 ML- Oklahoma-bred son of Euroears was the toast of Oklahoma as a juvenile last fall after prevailing in the Oklahoma Classics Juvenile in his first start against winners. The chestnut gelding was given a break off his big local victory and showed up in Southern California this spring in the Richard Mandella barn. ‘Taxman was shoved into the deep end of the pool of the Pasadena Stakes on turf two starts back, fading to a well-beaten seventh while appearing to need the race. Last time on the turn back in distance, ‘Taxman was caught in the firing line with Aristocratic and was summarily chewed up and spit out approaching the quarter-pole. What is his identity? Is he best served as a sprinter? What is his running style? These are questions that loom rather large when attempting to tackle such proven commodities in their own backyards. What we do know is ‘Taxman has been forwardly placed in all his races but that seems like a formula to run fifth place on Saturday; It’s been a forgettable script thus far in 2017 so expect a change of tactics out of this guy since there are no vacancies on the front end and because necessity is the mother of all invention; outsider.
5-Sutton Impact 6/1 ML- Won like a good thing when beating sellers in his debut. Is one of two for Peter Miller and appears to be the surety on a legitimate pace for stable mate Bobby Abu Dhabi. His pilot defects to Aristocratic understandably and having ridden both horses in their last start you can expect Rafael Bejarano to be all over him like white on rice on a paper plate in the early going. The extra furlong should be major cause for pause if you’re in this corner given his apparent one way of going in the infancy of his racing career. Should he decide to attend the pace on the front lines between American Anthem and Aristocratic, rest assured it will be a replay of February 11, 1990 in round 10 at the Tokyo Dome when Mike Tyson was sprawled out on the mat trying to reach for his mouth piece as Buster Douglas shocked the boxing world with a tenth round knockout; prefer the underrated 1983 crime/thriller Sudden Impact starring Clint Eastwood to Sutton Impact starring Flavien Prat and Peter Miller; doubt there will be much turnstile traffic on your way to the window to bet him at post time, but if me and the Bobby Abu Dhabi backers spot you trying to play him as he walks up to the gate, rest assured we’ll be saying in unison “Go ahead, make my day.”
6-Aristocratic 5/2 ML- It’s quite likely he’ll be chagrinned to open up the program and see American Anthem get the nod as morning line favorite from Jon White. Expect Aristocratic to imperiously take it to American Anthem and any other sparring partners on the front end after his front running score last time in the San Pedro. He’s never stretched his legs past six furlongs, so it will be interesting to see how he fares given the extra distance today when push comes to shove. Owner Kaleem Shah moved six of his horses from the Doug O’Neill stable to Simon Callaghan, though no reason for the move has been publicly cited. On paper, it would appear that Aristocratic will be competing with O’Neill’s training regimen and conditioning in him, noting his final work for O’Neill was last Saturday as he covered six furlongs in 1:14 flat. It appears this colt is coming into his own and he rates a long look, especially if he can stalk and pounce on the embattled leaders up the backstretch to his inside; too sharp to ignore.