Mar 09, 2018
At the Gate - Saturday
We have three Road to the Kentucky Derby races on tap on Saturday, overshadowing the 81st running of one of racing’s most historic races.
The $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1), known simply as the Big ‘Cap will be contested today. The race has been won by some of the sports all-time greats including Seabiscuit, Round Table, Ack Ack, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, John Henry, Alysheba, Lava Man and Game On Dude.
The race was worth $1 million just a few years ago, but it has gone from $750,00 last year down to $600,000.
With the $16 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) in January and the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in late March, this race has been lost in the shuffle, which is a shame.
I don’t know what the answer is. The Stronach Group owns both Gulfstream Park, the home of the Pegasus and Santa Anita, so it would be in their best interests to perhaps tie the two races together.
Maybe run the Pegasus on Jan. 1, the Santa Anita Handicap the first Saturday of March and add a bonus for a horse that runs in all three big races. A purse boost for the Big ‘Cap would be needed too.
This year’s edition drew a field of eight including two that ran in the Pegasus—fourth place finisher Fear the Cowboy and ninth place finisher Giant Expectations.
As you can see below I am going with the world traveler Mubtaahij, who ran in the last two editions of the Dubai World Cup, landing second in 2016 and fourth last year.
My Best Plays Multi Track Report for Saturday includes my 12 strongest plays from Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs and Santa Anita including the major stakes action.
To purchase my Aqueduct and Best Plays Reports for Saturday click here .
Here is the opening race from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 Clm $25,000N2L (12:50 ET)
#8 Heart in Hand 5-2
#6 Pretentious 2-1
#1 Bartleby 7-2
#7 Incorporate 8-1
Analysis: Heart in Hand was fifth last out against state bred Alw-1 foes, an above average group. The runner up Blewitt came back to beat state bred Alw-1 foes in his next outing on Feb. 4 by 5 1/4 lengths. The gelding gets a jock upgrade from the bug to McCarthy and this is just his second start on the main track. He returns off a short break for Rice who is 19% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
Pretentious makes his second start off the bench here for the Mott barn. Last out the gelding tracked the early pace and was no match for a 12 length winner in the stretch in a runner up finish, 3 1/4 lengths clear of the rest of the field. The gelding should move forward in his second start off a 10 month layoff here facing easier. His maiden score came over an off track and while he has racked up a lot of losses he has been competitive versus tougher.
WIN: #8 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 6,8 / 1,6,7,8
TRI: 6,8 / 1,6,7,8 / 1,3,6,7,8
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 9 The Tom Fool Hcp G3 (5:12 ET)
#4 Threefiveindia 5-1
#5 Skyler's Scramjet 9-2
#6 Do Share 4-1
#3 Great Stuff 5-1
Analysis: Threefiveindia adds blinkers here after tracking the early pace and finishing gamely in a close up third in the Gravesand last out here in the slop. He was a solid second two back in the Fall Highweight and was only beaten 3/4 of a length when fourth in the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland last fall. He comes back off a 2 1/2 month break here for Brown who is 24% winners (with a +ROI) when adding the hood for the first time. There is plenty of speed signed up and he should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the front.
Skyler's Scramjet earned a career top two back beating Alw-2 optional claimers and came back to beat Alw-3 foes last out in the mud here. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers and he comes in here having won three of his last four starts. The Nevin trainee has just nine starts under his belt and looks as if he may still have some upside. He should move forward off his last effort and picks up McCarthy.
WIN: #4 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 4,5 / 3,4,5,6
TRI: 4,5 / 3,4,5,6 / 3,4,5,6,10
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Santa Anita:
SA Race 10 The Santa Anita Hcp G1 (4:30 PT)
#8 Mubtaahij 4-1
#7 Accelerate 5-2
#5 Hoppertunity 7-2
#6 Fear the Cowboy 3-1
Analysis: Mubtaahij finished behind a couple of these he faces again today last out in the San Pasqual (G2) where he dueled for the early lead and had to settle for third. The blinkers come off and Mike Smith goes on for Baffert who is 5 for his last 13 when taking off the hood. Her won the Awesome Again (G1) in his first rip over this surface last September off a six month layoff. A disappointment in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), he looks capable of turning the tables here with his best.
Accelerate stalked the early pace while down along the inside and had to steady briefly on the backstretch. He got room and stayed toward the rail, slipping up the side to win the San Pasqual. It was his first win over the main track here in his eighth career trip. He has earned triple digit Beyers in 7 of his last 10 starts and is bred to like a wet track which we may see today.
WIN: #8 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 7,8 / 5,6,7,8
TRI: 7,8 / 5,6,7,8 / 4,5,6,7,8
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R1: #7 Incorporate 8-1
R2: #8 Beyond the Green 8-1
R6: #12 Collective Effort 8-1
R8: #2 Bishop’s Pond 12-1
R10: #3 Beautiful Shot 8-1
Good luck today!