Today G1-Santa Anita Handicap probably isn't going to go down in the history books as containing the greatest collection of horse racing talent. The field is big and competitive, which should make for good wagering opportunists, but the quality of the field is definitely lacking. Morning line favorite Ultimate Eagle is the only Grade 1 winner in the field and his win came over the grass in the Hollywood Derby. Ron the Greek is the only horse to win at the distance of a mile and a quarter... well, sort of. He won a race at 1 3/16th of a mile in a minor stakes race at Aqueduct, which for past performance purposes counts as 10 furlongs. In reality, non of these horses have won at the classic distance.
12-Holladay Road (8/1) has done most of his best work on turf and synthetic surfaces but his last start at Santa Anita was a solid win over the main track against California-breds. He's stepping way up in class but he's in excellent form and should get a decent amount of pace to close into from Ultimate Eagle, Fiddlers Afleet and Gladding. In a field with as many questions marks as this one, I'll take a shot with Holladay Road at a little bit of a price.
Below are the current changes for several of today's tracks (via Equibase):
10:45 AM: The G3-Tom Fool Handicap will go off as the ninth race at Aqueduct (4:34pm Eastern) with Caleb's Posse and Calibrachoa facing off in what looks to be a fantastic race. Thrown into the mix is Emcee, a lightly raced song of Unbridled's Song that has been incredibly impressive in his first two starts including a six length win against N1X company at Gulfstream on Feb. 3rd. He earned a 107 Beyer for that effort.
11:35 AM: The G2-Top Flight is up next at the Big A and It's Tricky is sitting at a microscopic 1/5 on the tote board. She is making her first start since finishing 2nd to Royal Delta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.
Bridgejumpers out in full force on Its Tricky. $160,971 bet on her to show out of $175,340 with 2 MTP— David Grening (@DRFGrening) March 3, 2012
11:46 AM: I suppose you would call that a "workman" (or "workfilly") like effort by It's Tricky in the G2-Top Flight. She didn't look completely cranked up for that race and had to duel just a bit in the middle of the stretch before finally putting away Love and Pride inside the final furlong.
12:41 PM: Not your garden variety $80k/OC event at Gulfstream in race 7; Pants On Fire and Dialed In make their 2012 debuts in a one-turn mile on the main track. Pants On Fire hasn't raced since finishing 5th in last summer's G1-Haskell. Dialed In last saw action in the Preakness.
1:05 PM: Pants On Fire stalked the pace and pulled away to easily beat Dialed In and the rest of the field in race 7 at Gulfstream. Good effort off the bench for Pants On Fire; Dialed In proved to be a ridiculous play at 4/5 as he was fighting to just hit the board.
1:20 PM: Strange race at Santa Anita for the 3rd; the gate opens and one horse is still being held by the gate assistant (and his gate appeared to open a second early), two others lost their riders, and three others run down the hill wondering what the hell is going on. Mr. Bossy Pants crossed the finish line first but the race was declared a "no contest" by the stewards. All straight wagers returned and Pick 3/4/5 players get the "ALL" button.
1:30 PM: Emcee getting plenty of support from the crowd for the Tom Fool at Aqueduct. He's been bet down to the 6/5 favorite; Calibrachoa is at 5/1, Caleb's Posse at 2/1.
1:41 PM: Calibrachoa stalks, takes the lead and holds on to win the Tom Fool over a fast closing Caleb's Posse and a very game Emcee. Nice odds on Calibrachoa (7/2) when you consider how good he's been on when sprinting on the inner dirt.
2:11 PM: I'll have a full write-up in a few minutes but the short story is: Hansen dominates the Gotham. No blinkers and wide post? No problem.
2:35 PM: Doubles Partner and Julien Leparoux runs down favorite Little Mike and longshot Trend to win the G3-Canadian Turf at Gulfstream.
3:35 PM: After a little bit of a break it's almost time for Santa Anita to run the this weekend's three Grade 1s - Las Virgenes, Kilroe Mile and Big Cap. Race 8 goes off in about 20 minutes with the Las Virgenes going off as race 9.
4:40 PM: Got to like the upside of Eden's Moon after that win in the G1-Las Virgenes. Set the pace while under pressure from the odds-on favorite and still had enough to pull away in the final furlong. There will be an inquiry after some bumping at the top of the lane.
4:45 PM: Nakatani claims that Reneesgotzip was hit by Martin Garcia's whip at the top of the stretch. The stewards disagree and keep Eden's Moon as the winner of the Las Virgenes.
5:19 PM: Willyconker (IRE) upsets the Kilroe Mile, beating the favored Mr. Commons by a head at the wire in a tight finish.
6:05 PM: Nice win by Ron the Greek, the only horse in the field to have won at 10f coming into the Big Cap... well, 9.5 furlongs. He was bet down from a ML of 6/1 to 7/2 at post time.
That's it for today's action. I'll have a weekend review Sunday evening.