I can’t believe another year has flown past and we’re heading back to sunny California and, specifically, the tight, twisty, turf turns of Santa Anita (yes, I know there’s dirt too but that wasn’t alliterative! ).
I love the Breeders’ Cup weekend and, while I’m slightly disappointed they’ve re-relegated the Marathon back to the undercard (it was very profitable for me the last 2 years!), I can’t wait to get underway. My views and bets for Friday are as follows….
9.25 Juvenile Turf (1 mile)
A newish race with only 7 previous renewals and one in which the Europeans have a good record, having won 5 of those. That may, in part, be down to the prohibition of the anti bleeding drug Lasix and the Americans in their wisdom have decided it is allowed this year.
If you believe all the hype, this revolves around one horse and one horse only; HOOTENANNY. An out and out speedster, he has an excellent record but over much shorter distances than he’ll attempt tonight. No doubt Frankie will attempt to go gate to wire from the front but with stamina a probable issue the 7/2 on offer makes no appeal to me (in fact, I probably wouldn’t back him at twice the price!!). The other Wesley Ward runner LUCK OF THE KITTEN makes more appeal to me at around 12/1 but, again, is an habitual front runner who may just get involved in an early, pacy battle with Hootenanny.
I’ve plumped for two horses who don’t need to be ridden up with the pace, although both could if I’ve read it all wrong and the Ward runners “take a pull”. For the home team I’m keen on IMPERIA. With only two career runs, he’s slightly less experienced than ideal but the second of those was a very nice win over slightly further than the mile. He’s a definite stayer in my view and could be taking advantage of any collapse from those on the sharp end. For the Euros, the one that caught my eye was COMMEMORATIVE. Charles Hills’ boy looks tactically versatile, likes a decently run mile trip, has the excellent James Doyle up top and could just slot in behind the likely pacesetters from stall 4. Assuming the track holds no fears, I think that one could go very well too.
IMPERIA & COMMEMORATIVE for me. I’ve backed both at 10/1 as e/w plays – Imperia now a best UK price of 8/1.
10.05 Dirt Mile
Another newish race (run 7 times) but, interestingly 6 of the winners were aged 3 or 4 and the one 5 year old was a pretty big surprise returning at roughly 37/1. A top 3 finish last time out looks to be an advantage as does, somewhat surprisingly, a step back in trip (5 from the 7 winners fit both those profiles.
Another “one horse” race if you believe the betting in last year’s winner GOLDENCENTS. He’s taking pretty much the same prep as last year into the race (stepping UP in trip didn’t stop him then) and has posted by far the best Beyer numbers in this field. He is the most likely winner again but at a very skinny price you won’t be getting many cents back on this one. Second up on the Beyer numbers is PANTS ON FIRE but as a 6 year old he’d be bucking the trend if he could win this. Currently 12/1, that one makes some appeal for a place only bet.
My money, however, has gone on one who on the face of it has a lot to do to beat the favourite. I’m happy to ignore the 2013 run in this as he never got in the race and, whilst beaten 4 lengths by Goldencents recently, that was over a furlong shorter and he was closing. FED BIZ is stepping back from 9f and I’m hoping for a better showing this time at 11/2.
ps. There’s a Chilean raider in here (BRONZO) who is a very big 25/1 shot. I’m actually pretty upset that the Marathon is no longer one of the big races as, in trying to analyse his form, I came to the conclusion he would have been a cracking bet for that. This mile may just be too sharp so I’ve ignored him!
10.50 Juvenile Fillies Turf (1 mile)
Another race where a good showing last time out seems a pre-requisite – 6/6 were top 3. A 3-7 week lay off also seems optimum as does form over further than the bare mile.
This actually looks quite tricky as I can find no real pace angle to work from. Nothing really appears to want to get on with things which usually makes for a messy old affair. I’ve therefore gone pretty route one in trying to find the likely winner and looked at the best US trial (historically) for this race. That is the Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont and the winner that day was the very impressive LADY ELI. Officially good for 3 lengths at the end, she was going away AND easing down. Her trainer has reported that she’s settled well in the California sunshine and seems pretty confident of a big run. The 13/2 on offer at paddypower makes a lot of appeal from both a win and/or an each way perspective.
Another worth a mention at a likely big price on the US tote is SIVOLIERE. A European import, she’s never run further than 7f but being by Sea The Stars with a bit of Kingmambo thrown into the breeding mix, this mile looks likely to suit. Chad Brown has taken over training duties and, despite some early worries, she seems to be working very well. Currently a 12/1 shot over here, I have a feeling she might get overlooked come race time and will be watching the tote market closely.
11.35 Distaff (1m1f)
A race that’s historically been dominated by 3 or 4 year olds (25/30 inc. the last 15) with 4 yo’s winning 9 of the last 12. It also appears to favour those who can run at, or at least close to, the front.
Taking all the above into account it’s easy to see why we have joint favourites in the shape of UNTAPABLE and CLOSE HATCHES. Both have posted some excellent times and Beyer numbers over 100 BUT, both are drawn out wide. Whilst that may not hinder Untapable as much, it still looks a pretty big negative to my eye at a best price of 7/2 on either. Untapable’s excellent form may also have to take a knock taking on some older rivals here.
The one that I’m backing also has a slight question mark against her but the way IOTAPA won a Grade 1 event over C&D by over 10 (yes, TEN!!) lengths and recording a Beyer number of 109 in the process makes her 10/1 price far too big to ignore. The slight niggle could also, somewhat perversely, be taken as a positive. She finished 3rd last time out but was subsequently found to have bled. Now, obviously the bleeding is a worry, but she was plugging on at the end despite it so is clearly a tryer. I’m hoping it won’t be an issue tonight and have backed her accordingly.
If you fancy a longshot each way poke, you could do worse than have a look at the Peruvian lass VALIANT EMILIA. Plenty of wins under her belt around the dirt of Monterrico, she wouldn’t be the first Southerner to come North and steal a prize at this meeting. 5 years old is slightly off putting but 33/1 is tempting for a few e/w pounds.
And that’s Friday done. Saturday’s monster card may have less waffle due to time constraints but I hope it’s been entertaining if not helpful!!
Have a great meeting