By Michael Patricks
Closing weekend has arrived from Santa Anita Park in southern California. Saturday brings about a 12-race program with the Grade II San Carlos Handicap and Grade III Wilshire on Sunday the closing weekend headliners. This weekend’s analysis will focus on the former which has drawn a competitive cast of eight sprinters traveling seven furlongs with the San Gabriel Mountains the customary backdrop.
Racing will shift to Los Alamitos Race Course on Thursday, June 28th and run through Sunday, July 15th. Del Mar’s opening day is Wednesday, July 18th and racing will run in northern San Diego through Monday, September 3rd. The Jockey Club will be open Wednesday through Sunday with full coverage of Del Mar spanning their seven-week meet. The Sonoma County Fair begins Thursday, August 2nd and goes through Sunday, August 12th with eight days of racing. For all the details or if you’d like to print your own simulcast calendar, check out www.sonomacountyfair.com
There is plenty of consternation with respect to future racing dates being allocated in northern California and that means racing at Golden Gate Fields could be seriously compromised–and at worst, may be in total jeopardy. There are a few issues which must be resolved between Golden Gate Fields management, the California Horse Racing Board, and NOTWINC. If you’d like to try and get a better handle on the issues at large, I’d recommend the following read from the Paulick Report. https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/future-in-doubt-for-golden-gate-fields-in-northern-california/
Like what you’re reading? Each week I post a racing-related article that includes free analysis and race selections to The Grapevine, the official Blog for the Sonoma County Fair. Access The Grapevine at https://sonomacountyfair.wordpress.com/ and stay informed of all the news and events surrounding the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. You can also reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Outthought myself in last week’s race from Pleasanton, even though I chose that race because I knew a couple of the favorites would be vulnerable and they clearly were. It Girl was the morning line favorite but could do no better than third at 4/1. Tuesdays Supernova was bet down to favoritism but barely lifted her legs on dirt, failing to hit the board at even money. Those races are the type where you have to take the driver out of your bag and let that big dog eat. Right church, wrong pew as they say. With that said, I believe I’ve deciphered the chosen one to achieve victory from the teachings of the Daily Racing Form in the San Carlos on Saturday.
Race 11–The San Carlos
7 Furlongs on Dirt for 3 y/o and Upward
Post Time: 5:28 PST
1-Top of the Game 15/1 ML– Unseen since April when haltered for $62,500 at Santa Anita. Can’t find his last sprint race on paper and even though sporting Blinkers on the comeback you have to think he’s going to have a lot of ground to make up to seriously threaten. This feels like a prep race with something else in mind; outsider.
2-St. Joe Bay 12/1 ML- Another who was red-tagged for $62,500 most recently. St. Joe Bay has a lot of early gas and leaves the Miller barn for the Sadler barn. He’s done his best work on this surface and for whatever reason just wasn’t the same horse at Oaklawn in his past few starts. Truth be told, he really hasn’t been the same horse since his return from Dubai in the 2017 Golden Shaheen. He’s got inside speed but they will make him run to get the head in front early. Must turn the tables on Stone Hands and El Huerfano and sleigh Touching Rainbows and both Bafferts; I can’t go down this road.
3-El Huerfano 15/1 ML– Cal-bred is a fighter but you have to wonder if this is just a bit more than he can chew. He’s got early lick, but the pace picture figures to be lively and quite testing and that could spell big trouble in little China for him. Nice blowout on top of the race and he figures to be underneath anyone’s radar but how does he win the battle and survive the war versus the likes of these? Tough to envision a happy ending for him against this cast.
4-American Anthem 9/5 ML– Only he and Dabster have not been offered for a claiming price, the rest of the six runners have been risked with Stone Hands the only horse of that sextet who has not been claimed at some point. He’s got natural quickness and can sit and finish and that makes him dynamic in this spot. He had it all his own way at odds-on last time out at Churchill but not exactly sure who he was beating in that group. He’s a Grade II and Grade III winner and likes seven furlongs to boot. Seems to always fire but he’s going to have to get in there and grind for a bit if he wants his picture taken. I want to see him really have to work for it against some tough customers who are in excellent form; this is no lay down for him.
5-Horse Greedy 15/1 ML- Received a big figure but didn’t have much of an impact at the end in his most recent try when claimed against $40,000 sellers. He opened up some eyeballs with a monster effort at 40/1 over this surface and distance back in February but he’s been kept in check since then. Completely overmatched in each Grade I he tried on for size and this is shaping up as an ultra-competitive Grade II which will prove a very tough assignment for him; not on my radar.
6-Touching Rainbows 5/2 ML- Sharp as a ginsu knife since entering the D’Amato barn and he enters the starting gate in search of a fifth straight victory. He’s had little-to-no difficulty climbing the rungs of the allowance ladder and this spot seems like a logical next step for him. Prat bails on El Huerfano and Dabster to stay in his corner and the word on the street is that D’Amato only had him at 90 per cent heading into his most recent start. Versatile as they come and doesn’t mind running hooked if necessary…can American Anthem shrug him off if they look each other in the eye somewhere on the turn? I like his chances in a street fight—must include him.
7-Stone Hands 4/1 ML– Carries the most noteworthy distinction of being the penultimate horse to load, in the penultimate race, on the penultimate day of the meeting, which is the penultimate race meet for the year at Santa Anita, during the penultimate year of the twenty-tens. He’s really never run a poor race on the surface but the question is if he classes up with the rise in competition and whether his low to mid-90s Beyers translate. If O’Neill has him sitting on a career best effort then he’s got a shot. 4/1 feels a bit short, so I’d anticipate seeing him fall somewhere around 6/1 at post time and I wouldn’t talk you off backing him at that expected price point; not without a shot especially since he can stalk and pounce.
8-Dabster 4/1 ML- A most intriguing prospect, he sports nearly as many layoff lines as races on paper and so obviously he lacks the core seasoning many of his rivals possess. But what he does clearly have on paper is talent. His allowance win back in February going two turns was professional to be sure but he’s been unseen since then. Baffert always leads them over ready to go but recall Prat bails on Dabster for Touching Rainbows. He was blown out of the water in the Malibu at a big number in an ambitious spot back in December. Baffert always get played so make sure you demand a reasonable and realistic price before pulling the rubber band off your bank roll to back him. He’s beaten some good horses but Smith rides the other Baffert; contender.