BEST BET: RACE 8, AVANTI BELLO
This claiming sprint for 3yos is a good spot to take a shot with OUR TIGER’S BOY, who is poised for a potential upset over favorite COLORMEMONEY. The last time ‘BOY raced at Santa Anita, he won by five lengths, then came back to win again at this class level at Del Mar. Although he was dusted two back by ‘MONEY, the most recent start by ‘BOY was a creditable runner-up finish against similar. Blinkers off, outside post, and a pressing trip give him a chance at an upset. COLORMEMONEY is solid; the knock is price. His odds could be low based on his odds-on victory last out in a similar race. He won three of his last five, might be the speed of the field, and enters without a flaw on basic handicapping. The consistent DON’T STALK ME has been freshened nearly two months, he fits at this level. Bettors trying to beat the favorite probably should take a long look at both ‘STALK ME, and the top choice. BOB’S ALL IN goes first start off the claim by a high-percent f.o.c. stable.
BIG BARREL returns to the Santa Anita dirt surface on which he finished a solid second in June. If his subsequent misfire in a turf route can be forgiven, and if he gets pace to run at, ‘BARREL can mow down this modest field of Cal-bred maidens. SIR EDDIE, four-time runner-up from seven starts, wheels back in seven days after he dueled and faded to fourth in a downhill sprint. This is his first start on dirt since his debut in March, he has more speed than the top choice and is probably the one to catch. First-time starter BOUNCING AROUND is a sibling to the filly Miss Ricochet, runner-up by a head at 10-1 in her career debut. She finished second in three of five starts. Comebacker SIDEPOCKET ACTION has speed, runs well fresh and appears “live” first start since April.
IF YOU LIKE IT won 11 races; the remaining runners in this low-level claiming field combined to win 15 races. IF YOU LIKE IT finished second last out for an $8k claim tag, she was claimed, the claim was voided after she did not pass the post- race veterinary exam. She drops a notch to $6,250 claiming, and figures for a comfortable trip positioned right behind the speed. BLONDY’S REWARD likely will set the pace breaking from the rail in this mile route. The 2-for-30 mare usually gives it up late, but probably is the one they all will chase. BRIDAL ARCH was claimed for $16k two back, ran poorly last out, and now drops to the bottom (unrestricted) claiming level. LOVELY LINDA has run races that put her in the hunt; she will keep the pace honest.
This is a messy turf route for $100k maiden-claiming 2yos. The tepid call is DATA HAWK, runner-up with a grinding rally last out in a MSW turf route at Golden Gate Fields. His race looks better on paper than it looks on video, but at least he showed some finish. FORTNITE DANCE finished fourth last out after pressing the pace in a MSW turf route at Del Mar. The pace was slow, yet he still tired. Perhaps he should have stuck around longer. On the other hand, that was his first route, he could improve. SURPRISE FASHION stretches out, switches to turf and faces easier after two dirt sprints against better. DARK PRINCE is speed, first-time turf. The truth is, this race is inscrutable.
If she runs back to her highly rated debut victory in July at Del Mar, CHASING YESTERDAY will be tough to beat in this sprint stakes for 2yo fillies. Based on recent works, the Tapit sibling to American Pharoah will return to form after she bombed at Saratoga. She did not establish position, was uncomfortable racing behind horses, and failed to rally. Chalk it up to inexperience. She has good recent works, an outside post in the field of five, and is simply the fastest in the field based on her debut. IT’ S JUST AN ILLUSION is quick, wheeling back on short notice (two weeks) after a sharp debut victory. She popped the gate, sped an opening quarter-mile in a quick :21.78 and was gone. She might be the speed of the speed. Come catch
her. Four of the five entrants are front-runners. The only“closer” is AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE, who overcame a slow start to win her debut from off the pace last month at Los Alamitos. If the pace falls apart, ‘RECEIVE has a look at an off-the-pace upset. MARRAZANO won by five lengths last out; she changed trainers since. WATCH ME BURN seems to be in tough, and yet she is the only twotime winner in the field.
WESTWOOD’S WIZARD won his only start on this downhill course in 2017, he faced better company this year and drops to $35k claiming N3L. This is his first start since late August, he runs well fresh. CATS BLAME wheels back in two weeks and drops in class after a decent fifth in a N1X. He hit traffic crossing the dirt, steadied, but finished well to miss by only four. He faces easier this time, and won twice on the hill early this year. Based on his figures, he will be among the favorites. The knock is that his closing style is against the early-season course profile. Eight of the first 10 turf sprints were won by horses positioned first or second. Still must consider CATS BLAME as a contender. KING CAUSE drops to claiming for the first time, while switching to turf for the first time. He will roll late. INVASION LOOMING, maiden-50 winner on the hill in spring, drops from the same fast-pace N1X that CATS BLAME exits. The likelihood of an easier pace gives INVASION LOOMING a look.
First-time starter SOLD IT debuts with solid workouts for Doug O’Neill including a three-furlong blowout last week that suggests the gray daughter of The Factor is ready to roll in this MSW for 2yo fillies. TIZ A SHARPIE ran well in her third-place debut. Void of speed, she trailed the field, and finished with run for a distant third behind Anoakia starter Marrazano (race 5). It was a promising debut by ‘SHARPIE, though she might want longer than this six and one-half furlong race. She did not produce any speed in her sprint debut, and she was sired by Tiznow. She will rally late, and can be followed when she goes long. SHOW HOSTESS also has worked well for her debut. Her Sept. 23 gate work looked sharp visually on XBTV.
Veteran win machine AVANTI BELLO is the most probable winner on the card. His last two starts were super including a runner-up finish last out in which he set a fast pace and finished more than three lengths clear of third. He drops in class from $16k claiming and/or starter races to face Calbreds while entered for the optional $16k claim tag. ‘BELLO also is reunited with Flavien Prat, who has ridden him seven times in dirt routes: four wins, two seconds, one third. CARVILLE is a pacesetter candidate, freshened since late August and expected to either set or press the pace. Is he fast enough? The past six months, winning Beyer Figures for this class level (Calbred N1X, long on dirt), ranged from 80 to 91. CARVILLE typically earns numbers in the low 80s. Yes, he is fast enough on numbers. CALIFORNIA JOURNEY tries dirt for the first time in the eighth start of his career, while adding blinkers. His best efforts this spring on turf put him in the hunt. His dirt workouts have been sharp; he is drawn outside where he can race in the clear, free from kickback.
A deep N2X downhill turf sprint ends the week; 3yo CALEXMAN gets the call first against older. Both starts on the hill against his own age group were solid (win, second), he has tactical speed to be forwardly placed over this speed-friendly layout. CALEXMAN has been nd freshened two months since finishing third in the Oceanside and La Jolla in summer at Del Mar. His trainer Vladimir Cerin won with four of his last six downhill sprinters returning from layoffs of 45 days or more. FLIP THE COIN JAN, another 3yo, moves up in class to N2X after a fast-pace wire job on this course in a N1X. He looks like the speed of the field, and a threat to lead gate to wire. ERIC THE TROJAN, runner-up both recent starts at this level at Del Mar, will rally late. He won on this course in spring. The challenge is the hillside favored front-runners and pressers the first two weeks of the season. If the speed-friendly profile continues this week, ‘TROJAN would be up against it.