Lost two photo finishes Friday and finished second at 16-1. The racing gods are just not with us so far this meet. Today’s a key day. We’re slipping dangerously close to the end of our bankroll, but then Congress knows all about something like that.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21
1st — $20 to win on Thisishoweroll
2nd — $20 to win on Pat the Cool Cat; $5 exacta boxes, keying Pat the Cool Cat with Jen’s New Chapter, Dana Sisstar and No Kai Oi ($30)
3rd — $20 to win on C.T. Zee
5th — $20 to win on Natural Touch and Intermission
7th — $20 to win on Jan’s Ruling Angel and Russian Liquor
10th — $20 to win on Caribbean’s Comic and Strength
FRIDAY — Minus $110 OVERALL — Minus $1,584 BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $416
There will be a pick-six carryover of $102,703 for today’s 10-race card at Santa Anita, with the pick six encompassing races five through 10.
A host of long shots on the Free Fridays program caused the carryover, including Remus ($27.40) in the third, My Friend Luis ($29.80) in the fourth, Motu Nui ($15.40) in the fifth, and Mi Forest Amor ($22) in the sixth. Also, 3-5 favorite Devoted Magic was upset by 7-2 second choice It’s in God’s Hands ($9.40) in the seventh.
Well, they just ran the second race today at Santa Anita and Rail Trip was the easiest of winners, galloping along through moderate splits to beat third-level allowance company. He ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.11 and jockey Jose Valdivia did not even show the 4-year-old gelding the stick through the stretch.
What does this all mean? Well, the Big ‘Cap is in 15 days and considering today’s race amounted to basically a glorified workout for the son of Jump Start, trainer Ron Ellis could bring him back and run in the $1 million signature race of the meet and still have a relatively fresh horse.
Rail Trip is now 4-0 and the more he runs, the more intriguing this guy becomes. There were even rumblings that the Dubai World Cup was perhaps on Rail Trip’s radar, but I think I’d hesitate to send a horse who’s raced only four times that far. If he was mine, I think I’d talk it over with Ellis and see if he thought the Big ‘Cap was worth a shot. If so, why not keep him home and try to win one of the country’s most prestigious handicap races in your own backyard? Why risk derailing this horse’s progress by shipping him across the world when there are so many rich handicap races right here in SoCal — i.e. the Big ‘Cap, Hollywood Park Gold Cup and Pacific Classic at Del Mar — and then the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita?
If Ellis thinks he’s up to it, keep Rail Trip home. Just say no to Dubai.
To quote Tommy Lasorda again, I couldn’t hit water right now if I fell out of a boat. My long shots are not hitting and my chalk plays are running up the track. How bout it, folks .. how bout some tips on here. Do we have any red-hot handicappers who are having a good meeting?
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19
1st — $20 to win on Tasty Temptation
2nd — $20 to win on No Tip for You, Mascota Spa, Good Shot Mally and Kiamika at 20-1 or higher
3rd — $20 to win on Mamoonya
5th — $20 to win on Razor Cut
7th — $20 to win on Nima’s Pad
8th — $20 to win on White Lace Jimmy
MONDAY — Minus $80 OVERALL — Minus $1,380 BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $620
Veteran trainer Bruce Headley, who has one of the best eyes in the business when it comes to picking out young horses at sales, has a two-filly entry in today’s sixth race at Santa Anita — Stash and Supermodel.
Both 4-year-old fillies, owned by Jay Em Ess Stable, are making their racing debuts for a trainer who takes his time with horses and lets them fully develop before racing them. Stash, who will be ridden by Joe Talamo, was a $400,000 purchase at the 2006 Keeneland September Sale. She’s by Maria’s Mon out of River Cache. Supermodel was bought for $150,000 in July 2006 and is by Yankee Gentleman out of Glamour Bay. She’ll be ridden by Alex Solis in a race scheduled for 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course. There’s still a chance the race could be switched to the main track.
Both fillies have been working well for Headley, whose horses normally do work quickly in the mornings. Stash had a bullet six-furlong work of 1:12 breezing at Santa Anita on Jan. 18, and Supermodel drilled five furlongs handily in :58 1/5 on Feb. 8.
The entry is the fourth choice on Jeff Tufts’ morning line at 4-1 in the 10-horse field. Headley is high on both horses, but he sounds like he’s a bit higher on Supermodel, whom he says has been out-performing her stablemate in the mornings.
It’s been a slow start to the meet for Headley, who has won with only one of his first 24 starters and recently lost the big three horses in his stable. Both Street Boss and Magnificience were sold, and Surf Cat had to be retired following an injury. He’s hoping Stash and Supermodel are the real deal and get the barn moving in the right direction again.
Rail Trip, one of the most talked-about lightly raced horses in years at Santa Anita, will skip Saturday’s $150,000 San Carlos Handicap and run next in a third-level allowance race on Friday. After that, trainer Ron Ellis is not quite sure.
Rail Trip, a 4-year-old gelding by Jump Start, is unbeaten in three starts, winning his races by a combined 12 1/2 lengths. He won his first two races at Hollywood Park by a combined seven lengths and then romped home by 5 1/2 lengths in a second-level allowance at Santa Anita on Jan. 30, after which Ellis hinted he might race in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap. Ellis then hinted at the San Carlos, a seven-furlong sprint, last weekend before opting for Friday’s race against the likes of Dixie Meister, Rocket Legs, Racketeer and Booyah.
Ellis told the Daily Racing Form on Wednesday morning that he didn’t want to throw Rail Trip to the wolves by having him make his stakes debut off only three races while going 1 1/4 miles against some of the top handicap horses in the country.
Friday’s race, at 1 1/16 miles, will be run over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface, which was still drying out Wednesday after all the rain over the long weekend. Jose Valdivia retains the mount on the Jay Em Ess Stable-owned gelding.
Ellis still is not sure what will be next after Friday. If he goes in the Big ‘Cap, he’ll have had only 16 days between races, not a normal Ellis routine. But Ellis did not rule out the Big ‘Cap, nor the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 28. The latter option would give him plenty of time between races.
Frank Stronach, founder and chairman of Santa Anita parent company Magna Entertainment Corp., was in town over the weekend and involved in high-level meetings that could mean that the track is close to being sold.
It’s no secret that Magna is in debt up to its ear and that Stronach has been looking to sell off some of his tracks and/or gain partners to help shoulder some of the load. No luck yet, and Santa Anita is by far his most valuable track. Magna also owns other high-profile tracks such as Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, and a pair of Maryland tracks — Pimlico and Laurel.
No question that if Stronach were to sell Santa Anita now, he’d be selling low because of the depressed real estate market. He bought the track and 305 acres of surrounding land for $126 million in 1998, but it was reported last August that Magna was $229.8 million in debt due June 30, meaning something has to be done.
Stronach reportedly was in meetings with lawyers all weekend at Santa Anita’s popular Front Runner Restaurant, and where there’s smoke there is usually fire. Last year, Stronach admitted during an earnings conference call that Magna might have to sell 50 or 60 percent of Santa Anita to help alleviate its debt.
A couple of days ago we blogged about the number of talented fillies we have this year, including Zenyatta, Cocoa Belle, Life Is Sweet and Stardom Bound. Well, we can now add the name Evita Argentina to the list after the 3-year-old became the first filly in 62 years to beat the boys in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on Monday with a powerful closing punch.
The last filly to win the San Vicente? Hubble Bubble via disqualification in 1947. Evita Argentina became only the third filly to win the race in its 68 runnings, rallying from last in the field of 10 to win by a length, running the seven furlongs on a snythetic Pro-Ride surface made somewhat soggy by the rain in 1:24.30.
Trainer John Sadler didn’t even get to witness the historic event, remaining home because he was not feeling well. His assistant, Larry Benavidez, saddled Evita Argentina and credited jockey Garrett Gomez with a perfect ride. Gomez swept the final three races on the nine-race holiday card for a $23.60 late pick three.
Benavidez said the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks in New Orleans might be next for the daughter of Candy Ride, who came into the San Vicente off a runner-up effort behind stablemate Alpha Kitten in the Santa Ynez Stakes. Alpha Kitten, yet another of the talented fillies we have this season, was injured recently while galloping at Santa Anita and is sidelined for about six months.
Very tough meeting so far. But I’d be interested to know how some of you are doing? Has it been a successful meet for you so far, or is the synthetic track throwing you for a loss?
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16
1st — $20 to win on Frank the Barber at 20-1 or higher
4th — $40 to win on Flash Dance
5th — $20 to win on Beresford
6th — $40 to win on Dubai Rainbow at 2-1 or higher
9th — $20 to win on Warren’s Walk and Spokane Dancer
SUNDAY — Minus $120 OVERALL — Minus $1,300 BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $700