The Midnight Lute Grade III
6 & ½ Furlongs on Dirt for 3 y/o & up
Analysis by Michael Patricks
An early Happy New Year’s wish to all of you as the curtain comes down on 2017. The Jockey Club will be open daily through New Year’s Day with doors opening at 10 a.m. and free admission extended to our patrons on New Year’s Day. What’s more, Berry’s food truck will be accommodating our patrons beginning on Sunday as a transition in localized food vendors takes place. Casual Catering will be the new food and beverage provider at the Jockey Club in 2018 and we welcome them aboard as they join the team.
Santa Anita is back into stride this weekend after opening up this past Tuesday. This weekend offers the Grade I American Oaks and Grade III Midnight Lute. I’ll focus on the latter as this week’s complimentary preview.
1-Silent Bird 5/2 ML- Late bloomer ripped off five straight races before being elevated into Grade 1 company and subsequently took a beating at racing’s highest level. His last try was solid in a Grade 2 and he fits in this spot, but as a 5/2 co-second choice on Jon White’s morning line breaking from the rail while adding blinkers for the first time, I have to say he offers very little to no value at all if White’s appraisal is in fact accurate of what the market will bear; looking elsewhere for top honors.
2-Ohio 20/1 ML- First time gelding’s last win was on turf and he’s making his fast track debut while turning back in distance. He’s surrounded by question marks as he shows up off a considerable layoff. Ohio’s been drilling steadily in the morning for his return to the races but figures to have too much work to do when they turn for home to make any real impression; if the track comes up wet, he could get a slice.
3-Ike Walker 10/1 ML– Some may say he’s a bit cheap but I like him. He’s won 10 out of 34 races and equaled his lifetime figure last time out in a non-winners of two at Del Mar. He’s shown a fondness for the Santa Anita main track and love that he’s had five workouts off his victory last time. Bejarano defects understandably to the morning line favorite but he picks up the services of Irad Ortiz Jr. who is a very good gate rider and should have him in a nice spot down the back stretch. The question is whether he’s good enough and the price is right in order to find out. He’s a must use for King Jerry in my eyes; player.
4-Masochistic 5/2 ML– Co-second choice sports quite a resume and is an undefeated 4-for-4 at the distance. Van Dyke and Baffert unite at 30 per cent and he is a former Grade I winner while in the care of Ron Ellis. He’s got about as many layoffs in his running lines as he does races but he’s a warrior when it’s race day. He’ll take some serious heat up front from Americanize and Tough Sunday but he’s one tough hombre himself and has the back class to make them submit to him on Saturday.
5-Americanize 2/1 ML– He’s the chalk on paper and the hot horse. He can boast about taking down Malibu Stakes-winning Sophomore City of Light on this track back in October. He is probably the quickest of the quick early on but it will not be a picnic for him early on out where he likes to be. He’s facing some tough-minded and able-bodied equine foes in this cast but he’s been dealing with some pretty legitimate customers in his past few races. He should be prominent throughout but I’d take a stand at the 2/1 mark and would be selling short on him.
6-Solid Wager 10/1 ML– Just missed behind Edward’s Going Left (2nd in the Malibu) most recently, and before that was off the board in two Grade 1’s and a Grade 2. Appears he was one of the horses who safely made it out of San Luis Rey Downs and we can all be thankful for the efforts undertaken to help these animals in such a time of peril and crisis. Regardless of how he actually fares on Sunday, he’s already a winner just heading out onto the track.
7-Tough Sunday 8/1 ML– Silent Bird and Solid Wager have each gotten the best of him but that’s going back a bit. His first start of 2017 showed he was ready to roll off a considerable layoff and so naturally the question is whether he is susceptible to bounce off that effort. I harken you back to the last time he ran second off the layoff and you’ll see his best lifetime number in a demolition of Blue Anchor and Pedro Cerrano at Los Alamitos. He’s had five workouts between races and Miyadi is always tough with horses that fit this profile. Very scary if he steps forward off his Del Mar effort.
8-Calculator 4/1 ML- Another who thankfully fled the perils of San Luis Rey Downs and has been training at Del Mar. He was dusted quite comprehensively in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and has been unable to break through at the graded stakes level. The pace could be quite torrid and he does figure to run on for a piece and he’s in very good hands. It’s tough to envision him pulling clear late but he should definitely be on Michael Wrona’s radar nearing the quarter-pole. He’s a must use in vertical sequences.
9-Smokey Image 12/1 ML- He couldn’t lose as a two-year-old and now basically has lost his identity as a three-year-old. He’s been in the everlasting doldrums of mid pack nibbling since last May, and just seems more than happy to run with the pack. Toss into the equation he’ll be widest of all in a talented field and you start to realize this run will probably be about as memorable as Leonard Part 6, Rocky V, Lethal Weapon IV, Sniper 3, or Weekend at Bernie’s 2; would be one real stunner.