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Turfdom News and Notes for February 25, 2020

• Rain has continued to stay away from Southern California even though there was a 60% chance of precipitation this past Saturday. That keeps it fast and firm at the Great Race Place and the track has now gone five consecutive weeks without any mishaps (knock on wood). The main track continues to play fair but was back on the dull side this past week with times about 3 to 4 lengths slower than normal. The turf course has now started to favor off the pace runners in route races but the sprints remain fair. The fields continue to be on the “short” side and Santa Anita will introduce a bonus program in April to try and lure horses from other circuits. Right now they lose dirt horses to Oaklawn Park where they have much larger purses, but when Churchill and Keeneland open, where they also have grass racing, even more horses could be leaving. The single ticket jackpot of the pick six was hit last Friday for more than $405,000 by a ticket purchased at Woodbine in Toronto. They will race three days this week, Friday through Sunday, and the carryover for that wager is at $62,716.

• They had just one stakes over the weekend as the Spring Fever stakes for Cal breds on Sunday did not fill. On Saturday they ran the Grade 2 Buena Vista at a mile on the turf for older fillies and mares and it was a good race. Even with three late scratches, 9 went to the post and the undefeated Jolie Olimpica was installed the 3 to 5 wagering choice under Mike Smith. Coming off a sprint, she went right to the lead from the rail slot, set decent fractions of 23.23 and 46.49, but was no match for longshot Keeper Ofthe Stars, who overhauled her in the final sixteenth for a $74 upset. Our Best Bet of the day, Mucho Unusual rallied for third at 4/1 and was beaten a length at the wire for all of it. The winner was given a superb ride by Abel Cedillo, sitting in 4th down the back side, but on the outside and in the clear. The favorite had no excuses and may be more of a sprinter than a router, as she did not relax on the front end for Smith. The winner gave trainer Jonothan Wong his first ever Grade 2 victory.

• There are two stakes this weekend with the Pasadena Stakes, an ungraded affair at a mile on the turf for sophomores on Saturday, and the Tiznow on Sunday, an ungraded stakes for older fillies/mares that are Cal breds. Richard Mandella’s Goliad, a son of the good turf sire War Front, heads up the field for the Pasadena, while Fashionably Fast goes for her 6th straight win in the Tiznow, but this will be her first start going two turns. Other Cal breds that are expected to start in the Tiznow are Lieutenant Dan, Oliver, Posterize, Appreciated, Ernie Banks, and Premium Forest. .

• It’s that time of year once again when all eyes are on the sophomores gearing up for the Triple Crown races. On Sunday at Santa Anita, four prospects for those races had workouts. Nadal, who is one of three undefeated runners for Bob Baffert, worked ¾ on the main track in a very good 1:11.80. Royal Act, who was second in a stakes recently at 25/1 went the same distance in 1:12.40. Honor A P, the talented sophomore for John Shirreffs went 7/8 in 1:28.20 while Peter Eurton’s juvenile champion, Storm the Court, went 5/8 in 1:01.20.

• Jockey Joel Rosario won one on Sunday to maintain his 4 win lead on Abel Cedillo in the jockey standings. Flavien Prat picked up two winners on Sunday and is in third, five back. Rosario has the best win percentage at 28. In the trainer standings, Richie Baltas is two in front of Baffert 19 to 17 with Peter Miller in third with 16. Miller has the best win percentage at 29%

• Beginning next Saturday, February 29, Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields will offer a new wager they will call the “Golden Hour Double” and it will involve the last race at each track. It will be a parlay wager offered at a $5 minimum with the low takeout rate of just 15%. Santa Anita generally has their final race go off 15 minutes prior to Golden Gate’s finale, so there won’t be much time between races. Post times will vary based on the number of races each track has each day but they plan to keep them as close as possible. If this wager becomes popular, we may start covering theGF finale with our selections at Turfdom.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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