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Santa Anita Park Weekly Update (Sept. 27-29)

Santa Anita Recap for Friday (9-27-19)

Fast main track and firm turf course. Three front running winners on dirt (6.5f, 6.5f, 8.5f). The winning turf course running styles were a stalker at one mile, a patient runner at one mile, an inside stalker at five panels, and a stalker at one mile.

John Velazquez and Bob Baffert teamed up for two grade one wins in the juvenile ranks (Bast, Eight Rings). Phil D’Amato saddled two winners including Pee Wee Reese in the Eddie D Stakes (G3).

Chandelier Stakes (G1) Recap (9-27-19) - Winner: Bast ($2.40)

It was not easy but overwhelming favorite Bast got the job done, and I thought she ran well. The race shape completely changed after expected front runner Leucothea bobbled at the start and threw the rider. The pace really failed to develop after that, and Comical had a short advantage over Been Studying Her and Bast. There were three dirt routes on the day and this race by far had the slowest fractions (24.92, 49.54, and 1:13.98). Comical almost stole this one, but Bast pressed outside and got by the stubborn early runner to score by a neck. The top two were 3-lengths clear of K P Dreamin, and Been Studying Her was 15+ clear of Buyer’s Remorse. Bast remains my top ranked 2-year-old filly, and she looks like a solid threat in the BC Juvenile Fillies (G1).  


Eddie D Stakes (G3) Recap (9-27-19) - Winner: Pee Wee Reese ($7.00)

Pee Wee Reese loves the Santa Anita turf course, and you have to like his early-pressing versatility. In this local prep for the BC Turf Sprint (G1), he chased inside, got first run, and held off an unlucky Eddie Haskell. The latter was shuffled back a bit from the inside post, and he stormed home from next-to-last to finish a clear 2nd. The top two ran well. Stormy Liberal just held 3rd over late runner Double Touch. Tribalist, Lombo, Boa Nova, and Mr Vargas trailed.

American Pharoah Stakes (G1) Recap (9-27-19) - Winner: Eight Rings ($4.40)

It looks like we have a solid BC Juvenile (G1) favorite. Eight Rings was so impressive in his debut, but I was not quite sure what we would get from him in this spot after he behaved badly and dumped his rider as the strong favorite in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). His new rider John Velazquez was not playing around in this spot. As soon as the gates opened, he shot straight to the front through fractions of 23.34, 47.06, and 1:11.71. He was clear throughout and the result was never in doubt. He increased his lead throughout and won by 6-lengths over inside stalker American Theorem. Storm the Court was a neck better than Express Train in the battle for 3rd, and they were followed by Shoplifted, Defense Wins, Fore Left, Nucky, and Collusion Illusion (pulled up, walked off). The winner was much the best, and the runner-up ran a quality race. The others never really got involved.

Eight Rings Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

The Rainbow 6 pool was $114,213, and multiple winning tickets paid $2,568.74. There will be a jackpot carryover of $26,146 when live racing resumes on Saturday, Sept. 28.


Santa Anita Recap for Saturday (9-28-19)

Fast main track and firm turf course. Three front running winners on dirt (6f, 8f, 6.5f, 9f). The winning turf course running styles were a patient runner at one mile, a stalker at one mile, a stalker at a mile and a quarter, a front runner at a mile and a quarter, and a stalker at 5.5 furlongs.

Hat trick for Abel Cedillo (2 graded wins). Riding double for Flavien Prat. Training double for Richard Mandella, and both winners were 2-year-old first time starters at one mile on turf. Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill both saddled two winners. Phil D’Amato saddled two graded turf route winners (Cleopatra’s Strike, Mirth).    

The Rainbow 6 pool was $143,185, and nobody had all six winners. Multiple winning tickets with five paid $381.96. There will be a jackpot carryover of $58,927 when live racing resumes on Sunday, Sept. 29.

John Henry Turf Championship (G2) Recap (9-28-19) - Winner: Cleopatra’s Strike ($20.60)

Cleopatra’s Strike was playable at 9-1. The consistent gelding with stalking speed looked like a bigger threat to finished 2nd or 3rd, but was definitely worth considering at that price. Acclimate set the pace as expected, but had to go fast from the outside post. He was rolling right along for a mile and a quarter race (22.79, 46.05, and 1:09.75). This was a strung out field, and the three runners behind Acclimate were in a good spot, along with United. Cleopatra’s Strike challenged Acclimate in the stretch, but the front runner was stubborn. In the end, Cleopatra’s Strike got clear by a length, and Acclimate would not let United pass him for the place. Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A. P., and Grecian Fire were next, followed by Ya Gotta Wanna and The Street Fighter. Good race, and a good ride by Abel Cedillo. I don’t think he is going back to Golden Gate Fields any time soon.

Cleopatra's Strike Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) Recap (9-28-19) - Winner: Mirth ($14.20)

A nice value winner for my weekly Today’s Racing Digest video series. I picked Mirth on top because she was the controlling speed. She got out there and set the pace as expected from the inside post under Mike Smith. The pace was honest but they were not going nearly s fast as they did in the John Henry Turf. When I saw the 1:11.05 for six furlongs, I felt pretty good, and she was definitely home free after kicking 2+ clear in the stretch. She won by a comfortable length and a quarter over Beau Recall and Elysea’s World. It was another 5+ back to Siberian Iris in 4th, followed by Excellent Sunset and Paved. The finished in post position order (1-2-3-4-5-6).

Awesome Again Stakes (G1) Recap (9-28-19) - Winner: Mongolian Groom ($52.80)

This race was strange. Highest Power stumbled at the start and the whole race shape changed. Overwhelming favorite McKinzie and Mike Smith had the very early advantage and should have gone on with it, but Smith got passive and allowed Mongolian Groom and Abel Cedillo to set the pace. Big mistake! When you are on the best horse, and that horse has speed, you almost always go on with it, especially when the pace is tepid and your main pace rival stumbles. I am not one to bash riders, so I will leave it at that. We all make mistakes. Back to the race. Mongolian Groom looked like a trifecta threat, but a win was a surprise. He had lost his last seven graded starts, but he did hit the board in the Big ‘Cap (G1), San Diego ‘Cap (G2), and Pacific Classic (G1). He was never in front before, but had shown tactical speed. This time, he was able to get out there and set the pace, and he had enough class and ability to take them all the way. McKinzie came after him and was alongside in the stretch, but Mongolian Groom kicked away again to score by 2-1/4 lengths. McKinzie was clearly second best, and this is not the way you want to go into the BC Classic. McKinzie is not a ten furlong horse and might be in deep water in the Classic. Higher Power was able to finish 3rd after blowing his pace edge. Seeking the Soul was a flat 4th, followed by Draft Pick and Isotherm. The older horses in this division are below par this year, and so are the sophomores. The BC Classic figures to be a mad scramble!

Mongolian Groom Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

Unzip Me Stakes Recap (9-28-19) - Winner: Don’t Sell ($8.00)

This is a new turf sprint distance (5.5 furlongs). Miss Hot Legs and Devils Dance dueled, and Don’t Sell was in a good stalking spot outside. The latter got first run and safely held off late runner Apache Princess to score by a length and a quarter. Apache Princess was my top choice, and she finished well for the place under Flavien Prat. Holly Hundy returned from a successful trip to Colonial Downs and secured the show. Miss Hot Legs was 4th, followed by Stealthediamonds, Devils Dance, Shanghai Truffles, Watch Me Burn, Queen of the Track, and Fantasy Heat.


Santa Anita Recap for Sunday (9-29-19)

Fast main track and firm turf course. Three front running winners at six furlongs on dirt. The winning turf course running styles were a stalker at 5.5 furlongs and a stalker at one mile (rail at 20 feet).

No riding or training doubles on Sunday.

Zenyatta Stakes (G2) Recap (9-29-19) - Winner: Paradise Woods ($9.60)

Paradise Woods has always done her best work at Santa Anita. The key to her success is the break. She frequently struggles at the start, and those gate issues have cost her on more than one occasion. She needs to get into the race early, and she did just that under her new rider Abel Cedillo. Secret Spice almost had to go early from the rail post under Flavien Prat, and Paradise Woods tracked her from the outside. This was basically a match race throughout, and Paradise Woods was just a bit better. She edged clear late in a solid effort, and she must be considered a prominent throughout contender for the BC Distaff (G1), especially since that race will be at Santa Anita this year. Secret Spice ran a quality race but could not quite go with the winner late. She really is best up to a mile. Ollie’s Candy tried hard in the stretch and missed the place by a neck. La Force was a head better than Mongolian Groom in the battle for 4th, and Kaydetre was the distant trailer.

The Rainbow 6 pool was $85,689, and multiple winning tickets paid $373.84. There will be a jackpot carryover of $78,546 when live racing resumes on Thursday, Oct. 3.

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