Lava Man is going to Dubai

I hope he fares well, but I think the connections are making a huge mistake by shipping Lava Man to Duabi for the $5 million turf race on March 31. This trip could take him out of action until late summer, and you never know if he’ll be the same gelding when he comes back.
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Lava Man may stay in California

Word has come down in the past couple days that Lava Man’s camp may be reconsidering a trip to Dubai for a $5 million turf race on March 31 or a $500,000 grass race at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day. Now, trainer Doug O”Neill says the 6-year-old gelding might remain in California and try to defend his title in the Grade I Charlie Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 9 — a 1 1/4-mile turf event.
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Terrible trio at Santa Anita?

Looking over the Wednesday card at Santa Anita, three horses particularly caught my eye. The first was Take a Chance in the fourth. A 5-year-old gelded son of Petionville, Take a Chance drops a peg to $10,000 and retains the services of the underrated Jon Court. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Take a Chance is trained by Doug O’Neill, who is the leading conditioner at Santa Anita. He’s 2 for 5 at the distance too.
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Three to tango

I like three horses on the Santa Anita card today, which means, with the way I’m going, that’s three horses to toss out.
In the third, I like the Jeff Mullins-trained Yodelen Dan. Mullins is having his usual solid meet, and the horse’s rider,Aaron Gryder, is really starting to get himself established back here in the Southland. He’s a healthy 5-1 on the morning line.

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A child shall teach us

Leave it to a little 5-year-old girl to put life into perspective. On Saturday, after Lava Man became only the third horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap twice, one of the gelding’s owners, Jason Wood, told a story about Breeders’ Cup Day when the horse suffered one of his most disappointing losses.
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Looks like a nice card

I always smile when I see horses I like at nice prices, and today’s card at Santa Anita looks like a good one.
Here’s who I like:
2nd — I’m going to play a four-horse exacta box here, hoping that we get a big exacta with these Cal-bred bottom claimers — Spectacular Bay, Alie’s Din Din, City Lights and Mammoth Power. I like City Lights the best and I’ll put win money on any of the other three that go off at 20-1 or more.
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Put a Cap on these numbers

Some interesting tidbits regarding the previous 69 runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap, which will be run again Saturday in front of what could be more than last year’s crowd of 49,000 if the weather is good.
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– Trainer Charlie Whittingham won a record nine Big ‘Caps, the final one in 1993 with Sir Beaufort.
– Bill Shoemaker won 11, the most by a jockey. Laffit Pincay is next with five.
– No filly or mare has won the race, though 41 have tried. Island Fashion finished second to Southern Image in 2004 and ninth the following year.
– The largest Big ‘Cap crowd was 85,527 in 1985 when Lord At War won.
– The last foreign-bred winner was the Chilean-bred Malek in 1998.
– Favorites have won the race 36 percent of the time.
– Eleven geldings have won the Big ‘Cap. The two morning-line favorites this year, Lava Man and Arson Squad, are both geldings.

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