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Santa Anita Handicapping Horses To Watch January 9

COIL TO STRIKE (January 1): Four year old gelding for Billy Morey made the second start of his career in race #4 on New Years Day, a maiden special weight sprint for Cal breds at ¾ on the main. Off at 9/1 in a field of 7, he was unlucky to have drawn the rail and broke tardily with a slight hop from the gate to be away last. He was then rushed up along the fence by the rider and actually had the lead by the half mile pole. But the tardy start took its toll in the late stages, and although he ran very gamely down the lane, he was beaten two and a half and ended up third. This was also a day when the inside was at a big disadvantage as the winner rallied five wide on the good outside lanes. This son of Coil is a runner and he was gelded back in November. He’s a soon winner for a very strong barn who splits their time between Nor Cal and this circuit. Be ready.

CONQUEST TSUNAMI (January 1) : Fast turf sprinter for Peter Miller tried the Grade 3 Joe Hernandez stakes on Tuesday at six and a half down the hill for older runners. Off at 7/2 in a field of 8, he came out running as he usually does and set quick fractions of 20.92 and 42.10 down the hill while being pressed all the way. He put the other speed away at the top of the lane and still dug in gamely in an attempt to stave off the stretch runners, but it was all in vain. The quick fractions and the pace pressure took its toll and he ended up third beaten two at the wire. Still it was a huge effort and this race sets him up nicely for his next start, which may very well be the Al Quoz sprint on the turf over at Dubai, where he ran third last year. He’s 7 now but he is lightly raced, and his speed is world class. Peter Miller knows a little something about training grass sprinters and this one looks double tough wherever he makes his next start. Tab and follow.

NOLO CONTESTO (January 4): Three year old ridgling for John Sadler made start #2 in Friday’s sixth, a maiden special weight event for sophomores going one mile on the main track. Off at 8/5 in a field of 11, and the second choice in the wagering, he broke well enough but then got fanned five wide into the clubhouse turn. He recovered on the back side and sat 4th by the half mile pole 3 lengths from the leaders. Rosario went after the leaders at the ¼ pole and he collared the even money favorite at the top of the lane and they raced as a team the length of the stretch. “Nolo” just got up at the wire and it was at least 8 lengths back to the third horse. This was just his second career start and his first race was a non threatening sprint. This son of Pioneer of the Nile is cut out to be a nice race horse and Sadler knows what to do when he gets his hands on a good one. He looks like a horse for the Derby trail this winter. He’ll be tough wherever he places him in start #3.                                                    
MOUNTAIN SPIRIT (January 5): First time starter for Jeff Mullins made his debut Saturday’s fifth, a maiden special weight event for newly turned sophomores at six and a half down the hill. Off at 19/1 and breaking from post 14, he went right to the lead under Mike Smith, then settled back a bit off the lead into the right hand turn. He went after the leaders just before the dirt crossover, then got fanned five wide at the head of the lane, re-rallied in the stretch, and finished third beaten just a length and a half at the wire. All in all a very good debut for this son of Point of Entry, who they paid a quarter million for at the Ocala two year old sale. Mullins usually races his youngsters into shape and this one will only get better as the furlongs increase and he gets some experience. A good one to follow and the value will still be there.

SPOKANE EAGLE (January 5): Five year old gelding for Peter Miller, who had been claimed in his last five races, tried the first allowance condition on Saturday, and just crushed a decent field to win off by three under a hand ride. He tracked the pace from the good outside lanes, took over at the top of the lane, and cruised home. Being by Speightstown, he’s bred for the turf as well, and when they get good for Miller, it’s straight up the ladder as he has now won three straight. Tab and follow.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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