I'm going to separate the races on this card into three categories: "Straightforward", "Fairly Clear", and "A Mess".
Race 1 – Straightforward
Six horses are entered for this 1 1/16th mile OC/N1X event. Take note of the conditions of the race:
For fillies and mares three years old and upward which have never won $10,000 other than maiden, claiming, or starter, or which have never won two races, or claiming price $40,000.
I bolded the last part of the condition because I believe that is the key to deciphering this race. Horses in this race that are not entered for a tag have done very little winning, and the winning that they have done is generally against low-level competition (thus the "never won $10,000" requirement). However, a multi-winning horse could be entered in this race even though they don't meet the winning conditions if the connections are willing to run the horse at a $40,000 claiming tag. Dave's Revenge is exactly that type of entry. The three year old filly ran in a N2X event last time out and certainly didn't embarrass herself in any way at all. Two races back she scored a win against N1X company at Oak Tree after competing against open claimers at Del Mar. She appears to have a class edge on this field.
Lovehi is the other filly to keep an eye on as she graduated from the N1X ranks back in February at Santa Anita. That race was restricted to Cal-breds which, I assume, is why she's able to enter this race without a tag (unless the Form is incorrect, which it could very well be).
Race 2 – Fairly ClearA Maiden Special Weight for two year old colts going six furlongs with a field of eight (including three first time starters). I don't see anything special with the firsters (although you never know with that bunch), but in terms of the second timers the standout is clearly the outside horse, Quiet Invader. This Bob Baffert trainee just missed last time out over this same surface/distance and by drawing outside his contenders should be able to sit in the garden spot all race long.
I actually think this race is more "Straightforward" than "Fairly Clear", but the inclusion of 3 first time starters always adds an element of unpredictability.
Race 3 – Straightforward
As I was going through the card the last couple of days I really felt the first few races made a whole lot of sense on paper, with the third being the race most clear to me. A small field of six horses will go 1 ¼ miles over the turf course in an OC80K/N2X event. Just like the first race, it is important to note the horses that are in for a tag since they will likely have won at higher levels and/or more frequently than some of these.
Dewey's Special is the speed horse in here but I think all he's going to end up doing is setting this race up perfectly for Obrigado (FR), a horse that has spent his summer running in graded turf events all across California and is being dropped in for a tag. Obrigado is a versatile colt that has shown an ability to sit well back early only to make a solid middle move to put himself into contention heading into the final turn. He fits nicely in this spot.
If you're looking for a little bit of an upset play (and, aren't we all?) then No Dream might warrant a play. This colt hasn't won a race since winning back-to-back events at Chantilly and Maisons-Laffitte in France over two years ago but he might be eligible for some serious improvement with the stretch-out to today's 1 ¼ mile distance. This gelding possesses a very solid closing kick and he should be much closer to the lead than in his last effort. Finally, this will be No Dream's first start since being claimed by Vladimir Cerin last time out and I get the feeling that the trainer was anxious to stretch this gelding's legs with some extra ground. No Dream, like Obrigado, is also entered for the $80,000 claiming tag.
Race 4 – Fairly Clear
This minor stakes event is essentially a glorified N1X or N2X for two year old colts, or in other words, two year olds not good enough for the CashCall Futurity.
Race 4 is a six horse field that essentially breaks down like this:
- Three last time out Maiden winners, two of which want to go to the lead (Camp Victory and Tiz Chrome);
- A closer that tried the Hollywood Prevue last time out where he finished last of eight (Purse Luva);
- A presser with excellent stalking speed coming off a win against $40,000 claimers (Cardiff Giant); and
- A shipper from Golden Gate coming off a win in the Golden Nugget, a similar stakes race to this one (Shudacudawudya).
I think this race boils down to the two outside horses: Cardiff Giant and Shudacudawudya due to their stalking styles and their relative success outside the maiden ranks. Of the two, I think that Cardiff Giant makes the most sense on paper but I could easily be swayed towards Shudacudawudya based on the action of the tote board.
Race 5 – A Mess
A $32,000 Claimer for two year olds at six furlongs, race 5 has the potential to get very, very messy. Two year olds are unpredictable enough on their own but throw ten of them together, including several speed horses, and you have the potential for a wide-open affair.
A side note about two year old racing in SoCal: there appears to be some serious running going on down in Cali during the two year old season as there are three horses in this field making at least their eighth start of the year. There are lots of debates about the durability of the racehorse today, but it seems that there are a good deal of juveniles that are able to run a long campaign at age two. And while there certainly could be concerns going forward following a full juvenile campaign, the fact that horses tend to top out at varying ages means that trainers and owners are going to run them when they are ready to handle the rigors of racing. Many of these two year olds will probably fade away by the end of their three year old season, but that likely is more due to their individual development cycle rather than the result of too much racing. Certainly we can debate it both ways.
Okay, back to race 5; with all the speed in this race I found myself looking for a grinder – a horse that will keep coming to the line regardless if the pace situation melts down (which I think it might in this spot). With that in mind I found myself leaning towards Swiss Arrogant, a last time out winner in a $25K Claimer. The jump up in class isn't really a huge concern against this ground and with a possible quick pace he might be able to sit back and clean up the mess.
Race 6 – A Mess
A mile and a sixteenth on the grass for claimers at $25K and a big, fat field of twelve colts three and up means we could see a big price. Icemancometh (IRE) is certainly worth a long, hard look in this spot with wins in three of his last four races. His last effort (the lone loss) saw him rank early and unable to grab the lead as he had done in all of his previous wins this season. The problem I have with Iceman is the pace - there are two other horses that absolutely want the lead: the rail horse, One Shot (ARG) and Uffizi. One Shot is going to have to go hard for the lead in order not to get crushed by the other eleven horses moving over on the clubhouse turn. As a result, what are the chances that the Iceman is on the lead heading into the backstretch? That is essentially the question you have to answer in order to try and come up with a winner in this spot. If you think he can grab the lead, then his win chances improve significantly. If he can't…well, it could be wide open.
I love the check cashing that Headace (FR) has been doing this year (10-3-2-2) and with his stalking style he's looks like an attractive option if you think the pace will be ripe for the taking. This horse is dropping to his lowest level in a long, long time which when combined with the front wraps that were put on three races back mean it's best to get a price. Morning line says 9/2 and that seems reasonable given this field - I wouldn't want to take too much less, though.
If you don't like either the Iceman or Headace, don't worry, there are ten other horses in here that all have a shot to take the prize. This race looks like a good spot to go deep if you're playing the multirace exotics, or it could be a great chance to single a horse and bag a huge separator.
Race 7 – A Messy Mess
I'll keep this analysis short: nine two year old colts going six furlongs, seven of which are first time starters. I'll stay away from Dontsellmetofeleons (Thunder Gulch) on the rail…don't like debuts on the rail in a sprint and I don't like Thunder Gulch offspring going short at first asking. That's just me.
Street Cry (IRE) is an awfully hot sire right now and with Darley's Street Haven entered here you kind of think he could be ready to fire. Harty doesn't kill with firsters but the colt is 12/1 on the ML…those are odds that you got to like. Watch the early tote action on this colt.
Just spinin' the Wheel of Fortune on this one.
Race 8 – Fairly Clear but could be A Mess
Do you love the complete unpredictability of turf sprint for Cal-breds? Then look no further, Race 8 is here!
Twelve colts and geldings (with two AEs) are entered in an OC $25K/N1X…ah, another OC/N1X event. Like the other two similar races on the card it's important to identify the horses that are entered for a tag, of which we have four: Raingear, Trail Mix, Major Smoke (AE), and He Made It Happen (AE).
With turf sprints I used to look for closers and off-the-pace types since it seemed that every single race had more speed horses than I knew what to do with. Now, I just try to find one or two of the best speed horses and point my cash in that direction; it greatly reduces the handicapping work and I am certainly not any less successful at picking the winner.
Trail Mix is the type of horse could fit perfectly in this spot, although you have to overlook his 9-0-5-2 record over the Hollywood Park turf course. He appears to be the clear speed and will take plenty of action from Joe Public…if you can stomach 5/2 on an eight year old gelding making his 46th career start he should be a solid win candidate. If you want to cast you eyes elsewhere I think Itssultryinthecap is worthy of a closer look. This Peter Eurton trainee is a lightly raced three year old gelding (3-1-1-1) that graduated last time out at this distance over this course. Throw in a sharp move in the workout line and we could be looking at a candidate for back-to-back scores. He came it at 6/1 on the ML.
Race 9 – Straightforward
I think this is another race that doesn't need a whole lot of commentary. Lookin At Lucky and Nobel's Promise are the best two colts in the field (and two of the better juveniles in the country) and the only way they lose is if somebody is able to steal this one on the frontend. Given his awful trip last time out, Lookin At Lucky should be the strong favorite.
Race 10 – A Mess
Oh, Hollywood Park, why do you do the voodoo you do so well?
So you're playing the Pick 4 or the Pick 6 and you've fought through a card with plenty of twists and turns where you've found singles and coverage in all shapes and sizes. You're budget is starting to stretch thin and you turn the pace to the nightcap, Race 10. And what do you find? Oh, not much, just a fourteen horse, $25K Maiden Claimer going six furlongs.
I've looked at this race plenty of times and just can't make sense of any of it. The morning line favorite is the outside horse, Renzo Sean (3/1), and all he did to deserve favorite status was to lose by 9 ¾ lengths last time out. And while he did run a 73 Beyer two back that was against state-bred company, something he doesn't have the luxury of today.
If you have the bankroll this is the race to spread or even buy cause it looks very unpredictable.
I think there is a very strong possibility that the Pick Six goes unhit on Saturday.