The Californian (GII)
Santa Anita Park-Race 5
1 and 1/8 Miles on Dirt for 3 Y/O and Up
Analysis by Michael Patricks
Just eight days remain until Kentucky Derby # 144 with post time for the Run for the Roses set for 3:34 P.M. locally on Saturday, May 5th. Be sure to make plans to join us at the Jockey Club for a day of racing you won’t soon forget. Justify remains the market favorite but Magnum Moon, Mendelssohn, Audible, Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic are all considered worthwhile adversaries at the betting window. Will anyone upstage Justify–the son of Scat Daddy and daughter of State Magic?
I will make every effort to have the Kentucky Derby preview published to The Grapevine by Thursday evening so that everyone can have ample time to include (or exclude, depending on the reader) my analysis into their handicapping equations and form their own impressions heading into the weekend.
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A respectable showing last weekend for sure as Bobby Abu Dhabi got the best of Ransom the Moon in the Kona Gold as a 5/2 third choice in a tidy five-horse field. Hopefully those that follow the weekly write-up weren’t asleep at the switch and thus able to plunk down on the improving son of Macho Uno who is quickly emerging as a top sprinter in the country.
The Californian—Post Time: 2:00 PST
1-Soi Phet 4/1 ML– Have to admire his consistency as he has no problem laying his body down in the lane and his compete level is unimpeachable. Prince of Arabia got the best of him in their last match up at a huge number while Soi Phet ran credibly as usual. 93 or 94 on the Beyer scale appears to be his best fastball at this point and so the question to be asked is as follows: Am I willing to swallow hard at 4/1 on a 10-year-old Cal-bred gelding in a Grade II race when he was offered up for $62,500 in his most recent effort? Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.
2-Full of Luck (Chi) 5/1 ML- Was supported at the windows like he was the best thing since sliced bread being imported from Chile in the San Francisco Mile and then ran like burnt toast at 2/1, finishing 11th of 12. He was bet down from 5/1 on the morning line in his last start and it will be interesting to see if the public issues him a pardon for his last effort and follows him into the fire once again in the Californian; or, whether they’ll make him prove it this time around. Full of Luck has a dirt pedigree (Lookin at Lucky out of a Fusaichi Pegasus mare) but has competed exclusively on turf. The dirt work tab looks decent enough for Hollendorfer but remember he’s already burnt the toast once…caveat emptor.
3-Curlin Road 5/1 ML- He’s a Grade III winner at 12 furlongs on dirt but has found Grade I company to be far too much to bear. He gets away from Accelerate and Collected in his spot and trainer Doug O’Neill is as coy as they come. On the downside, Curlin Road is 0-for-3 without an in-the-money finish at the nine furlong distance and he also appears to be the type who will have to pass them all in order to greet the camera man. Given that there does not appear to be a ton of speed in this race on paper, I’ll side with others for the top honors; use underneath.
4-Dr. Dorr 8/5 ML- It’s quite refreshing to see a horse getting better with age instead of going sour in performance after rich success: (See Exhibits A, B and C, Your Honor–Kentucky Derby winners of 2010, 2013 and 2017.) So Dr. Dorr is the speed of the race and the one you’ll have to get around in order to buy a round at the bar without having to go into your pocket for the balance of the tab. He’s 4-for-6 over the surface but is not completely flawless. This will be his first graded-stakes race since he was two and as such will be the toughest level of competition he’s faced to this point for Bob Baffert. Dr. Dorr walked the dog along to a leisurely tempo going a mile in his last start and pulled away under controlled fractions. If Soi Phet or Full of Luck decide to give him some pressure right out of bed, then perhaps Dr. Dorr could be susceptible in the ninth and final furlong; he’ll take some beating and even though I have great disdain for betting chalk, he must be included in the mix, regardless.
5-The Lieutenant 7/2 ML- By Street Sense and out of the Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic, The Lieutenant is a half-brother to Kentucky Derby favorite and Bob Baffert-trained Justify. Ironically, he’ll be out to play spoiler to the Baffert camp with Dr. Dorr looking at a dispatch from gate somewhere in the neighborhood of odds-on to even money in my estimation. It’s true that The Lieutenant chased Dr. Dorr around the track in vain of the Santana Mile, but that was just a four-horse field and to his credit The Lieutenant passed the other foes in his vision, even though he was pace compromised. I expect him to move up with that race under his belt and relish the ninth and final furlong on Saturday; expect this barn to make great headway through the balance of 2018 with quality stable mates City of Light and Paved; Salute “The Lieutenant”, if you dare.
6-Prince of Arabia 5/1 ML- Woke up and smelled the coffee with the recent transfer in surface, sling-shotting past Soi Phet and company in his March 23rd allowance score at a mouth-watering 35/1. Unfortunately, you now are forced to take 1/7th of the price you could have had last time while climbing up the rungs of the class ladder. It makes sense that Cassidy rolls the dice with him in this spot and if he steps forward off his last race then look out. However, a deep dive into his resume shows that he wasn’t exactly in love with racing on dirt as a youngster with an 0-for-7 win mark that includes four minor placings. I’m of the mind his last start may have been a one-off; siding against the repeat.