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Santa Anita Handicapping News and Notes Oct 30

•    Santa Anita Park heads into their final week of racing this Friday with just a three day race week but each day will have 10 races and from the looks of entries for Friday, the fields will be fairly full with plenty of quality added to the mix. The main track continues to play fair for both sprints and route races. The turf course also plays fair for two turn races with a slight edge going to runners from off the pace. The surprise for this meet is that early speed continues to win most of the races coming down the hill in the six and a half furlong sprints. There were three races run over the weekend and in each case the winner was close up early to the pace. The single ticket jackpot of the pick six, which is a 20 cent wager, continues to be elusive to a single ticket holder. Nobody has won the wager yet and the c/o into Friday’s 10 race card is $992,979. The jackpot will be paid out on Sunday if nobody is the lone winner and there is talk that the pool could reach as much as $10 million by then. With the Breeders Cup ending on Saturday, the pool will be open to a nationwide audience, and if there is any bankroll left by then, most players will be participating. With the Breeders Cup starting on Friday, all the post times at Santa Anita will be moved up. Friday’s first post is 12 noon, Saturday’s is 10:30 AM, and Sunday’s is 11 AM. On Saturday we will have our selections out the night before to accommodate our East Coast clients.

•    Stakes action hasn’t been very good the last three weeks at the Great Race Place, with the exception of last Saturday where they had 14 three year old fillies line up for the Grade 3 Autumn Miss Stakes. But that changes for closing week as they have two stakes each for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with an abundance of runners. On Friday they run the ungraded Lure Stakes at a mile on the grass for older runners and they have a good line up. Northern California’s graded stakes winner Alert Bay heads the field along with Colonist, He Will, Chicago Style, Kencumin and others. Kencumin made our HTW list four weeks ago and will probably be our choice in the race, although he does lose Gary Stevens and Brice Blanc is his replacement. Many of the top local riders will be in Churchill Downs for the Cup this week. Also on Friday is a Cal bred race for two year old fillies with a nice $200K pot going 7 furlongs on the main track. This is a very “open” race with a field that includes Give Me a Hint, Start the Show, Naughty Tiger, Creative Instinct, and Mucho Unusual. Then on Saturday the Cal bred males run the same distance on the main for the same purse in the Golden State Juvenile. Also on Saturday they will have a full field coming down the hill in the Grade 3 Ken Maddy stakes for older fillies and mares. Maddy was a state Senator who did so much for racing in our state and has passed on a number of years back. Runners such as Storm the Hill, Rubilinda, and Painting Corners will be in the Ken Maddy. On Sunday, they have two Grade 2 races, both on the turf, with some very talented runners who chose not to ship to Churchill for the Cup. Vasilika and the speedy Fahan Mura head the field for the Grade 2 Goldikova stakes for older fillies/mares at a mile on the turf, and then Kazan should lead a large field of sophomores in the 9 furlong Twilight Derby. The racing should be well above average for the final three days of the meet with the good weather expected to continue.

•    Flavian Prat has opened up four lengths on Drayden Van Dyke in the jockey standings, 18 to 14, with three days to go, but both will ride at Churchill Friday and Saturday. That leaves Rafael Bejarano and the two bug boys with a chance to catch up by Sunday. Bejarano is back to riding like he was two years ago and is tied for second with Van Dyke at 14 wins, while Heriberto Figueroa has 13 and Assael Espinoza has 12. This should be a very tight finish around race six on Sunday. Peter Miller did have a comfortable lead in the trainer standings with 15, but Jerry Hollendorfer won two on Sunday and he now has 14. Doug O’Neill is two back with 13.

•    Although the weather is good in Southern California, it will be cold and maybe even rainy this week in Kentucky. The forecast is for a 50% chance of rain both days with temps in the high forties. That means some type of off track is expected along with a less then firm turf course, which the “Euros” will adore. This year they will run all the juvenile races on Friday, which they term Future Stars Friday. They will have a 10 race card with five B/C races and a first post of 10:45 AM. Then on Saturday, first post will be the same, 10:45, with an 11 race card which includes 9 B/C races. The first B/C race on Friday will be at 3:21 while the first Cup race on Saturday will be at 12 noon. All times given are Eastern Standard Time. Just about every type of wager imaginable will be available for both Friday and Saturday. We will have selections for the Cup for two races each, both days, mixed in with our Santa Anita races. It all ends on Saturday evening with the Breeders Cup Classic at 5:44 EST, with a 14 horse field, where they currently have 19 runners signed up. For horse players, this is our World Series and Super Bowl, rolled into one.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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