Santa Anita Handicap day has arrived with three grade 1 races in tow. They anchor the card as the last three races of the day, with the big one going off as the finale. Along with a food truck festival and other good things in the infield, it figures to be a good crowd on hand. Here are some brief thoughts on each stake:
Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes - One Mile - 3yo fillies
The first grade one on the card is for the fillies. This is the first grade one in the division this year and a prep for the Santa Anita Oaks next month. The wagering will be all over place with many options to place your wager. A 3yo race this time of year in SoCal without a Baffert trainee would be like a Los Angeles summer without sun (i.e. a shock). His charge is Eden's Moon. She won a maiden race by open lengths when stretched out to this distance last time out. She was forced to miss the Saint Ysabel S. due to minor illness, but she has worked swiftly since with several bullet workouts. But she will not get the lead. That will be Reneesgotzip. This daughter of City Zip has shown blazing speed each time out. She will be stretching out around two turns for the first time today. Made To Love Her finished behind Renee last time out in the Santa Ynez. She tries two turns on dirt for the first time today as well. Killer Graces is a grade 1 winner across town, but she seems to run better at Hollywood Park then on the dirt. This blog is going to pick Made To Love Her to take a stab at a price. In past years, this blog's pick has been finished second in this race more often than not, so maybe a backwheel exacta is in order?
Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile - One Mile (TURF) - 4yo & up
Mr. Commons figures to be a heavy favorite against this field of eight. He has been well liked and well-championed by people as the "next big thing". He has strung together two straight wins at the meet, winning the Sir Beaufort (over Big 'Cap favorite Ultimate Eagle) and the Arcadia last time out, winning his first race against older. Jeranimo has beaten the favorite on this course at this trip just back in October. He has been working across town in steady fashion. He does need to come back off a subpar effort in the San Gabriel Handicap, though he was in an uncustomary spot (the lead) early on in the race. Mega Heat is 5-for-9 lifetime and improving each and every start after being dropped in for a tag back in August. Compari figures to be on the lead for today, and he has shown that he has no problem leading the field on a futile chase. The pick is Jeranimo, as he will be a better price and is probably as good an animal as the favorite. Mega Heat can offer value underneath.
Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap - One Mile & One-Quarter - 4yo & up
Setsuko. A horse whose name has been cursed, bellowed, and defamed over the last two years as his near misses in and exclusions from races have caused strife from others. This blog has witnessed this from afar as the horse, while talented and a real looker, never really interested as a betting concern. This blog has witnessed him school & race for three seasons now, but not until before his last race was their a change. Setsuko was gelded after his loss in the Pacific Classic. With that simple act, it seems that light has finally come on mentally for this horse. From the way he schools to the way he acts in the paddock, there is a subtle change for the better in his mannerisms. His "hanging" problem has seemingly been cut away with the ultimate equipment change. This blog witnessed (and had video of before his camera was stolen) him bouncing back to the barn after his win last time out, acting like the race took nothing out of him. His energy levels caught the eye of everyone who saw him cross their path as they were heading out for the night. The distance is not a problem as well. All of that is why he is the "ALL IN" pick. Either this blog will go home happy or broke.
Good luck folks!