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Santa Anita Horses to Watch (Jan 26)

STANDING O (January 22): Three year old colt for Phil D’Amato made start #2 in Friday’s 4th, a maiden special weight event for Cal breds at ¾ on the turf. Off at 6/1 under the apprentice Jessica Pyfer, he made the running right from the start and dueled for the lead down the back side. He opened up two at the 3/8 pole, still had the lead at the 1/8 pole, then gave it up very late to the favorite. He lost by two and a half at the wire, but it was another three back to the third horse in this 10 horse field. This was his first time on the grass and this son of the good turf sire Acclimation improved dramatically over his debut on the main track. He’s a soon winner for a barn that excels in turf sprints. Tab and follow.

FOUND MY BALL (January 22): Three year old colt for Doug O’Neill made start #2 in Friday’s 7th, a maiden special weight event for Cal breds at ¾ on the main track. Off at 7/2 in a field of 8, he broke running under stable rider Gutierrez, and sat “chilly” down the back side, just a length off the lead while on the outside. Gutierrez asked him for run turning for home, and he quickly accelerated by the odds on favorite, all under a hand ride. He went off to win by six and never saw the whip at any point in the race. This son of Square Eddie is bred for the turf as well and is a slam dunk to win the first allowance condition for state breds. This was his first start on Lasix, and that along with possibly an outside bias may have accounted for the huge improvement. Either way, the barn has lots of options for this Cal bred.                                                         
THE GREAT ONE (January 23): Trainer Doug O’Neill has a Derby horse and one for the trail. This three year old colt was in a maiden special weight event on Saturday and simply annihilated a small but quality field, winning off by 14 at a flat mile on the main track. Off at 8/5, he chased a Baffert first timer through fast fractions of 22.91 and 45.76, put him away at the 3/8 pole, then drew off from another quality colt, all under a hand ride. He had just ran Spielberg to a nose decision in the Grade 2 Los Al Futurity while still a maiden, but showed the quality he has today with a dominating performance. This son of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist appears to have a very bright future and received a 92 Beyer number for his effort. Up the ladder.

HIM IN (January 23): Four year old gelding for Bob Hess Jr. tried the “Tin Man” starter allowance race on Saturday at 9 furlongs on the lawn. This race is the beginning of a starter series and any horse that ran for $40,000 or less in the last two years was eligible. A field of 9 went to the post and he was off at 8/1. He lagged early under Maldonado, who was a late replacement rider for Desormeaux, and chased moderate fractions down the back side, about 7 lengths off the pace. He didn’t really put in a move until the top of the lane, got fanned out about five wide, but was closing the fastest of anyone in the race. He finished second by a length from a perfect tripper who cut the corner at the top of the lane. This one still has the first allowance condition available, can handle turf or the main track, and is very consistent. He has been 1st or 2nd in 8 of 13 career starts. He’ll find the winners circle in the very near future.

COAST OF ROAN (January 24): Five year old gelding for Doug O’Neill, who has been hotter than a firecracker this past week, surfaced in a starter allowance race for non winners of three races Sunday at six and a half on the turf. Off at 3/1 in a 9 horse field, and breaking from the dreaded 9 hole with the quick left hand turn, he veered out at the start and was away slowly. He was a good 9 lengths back down the back side while four wide to boot. He started to move at the ¼ pole, reached contention from the extreme outside at the top of the lane, then surged the final sixteenth to get up late and win by one at the wire. He had not been to the post since March but worked extremely well coming into this race. This gelding still has the first allowance condition available and has only missed the board once in 7 starts, plus he is much better going two turns. Up the ladder.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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