SANTA ANITA NOTEBOOK

A quartet of graded races highlighted the second weekend of the winter/spring meeting at Santa Anita.

San Gabriel S. (G2): Bienstock and Winner’s FLAMBOYANT (Peer Gynt) moved to the fore nearing midstretch and gradually wore down a classy foe in Obviously (Choisir), who had everything his own way on the early lead. Winless since April 2014, Flamboyant recorded a 46-1 upset with Brice Blanc, scoring by a neck, and the five-year-old gelding got nine furlongs on the firm turf in 1:46 3/5 for trainer Paddy Gallagher.

Santa Ynez S. (G2): Trainer Richard Baltas et al’s FOREVER DARLING (Congrats) ran down a clear leader in late stretch and held sway to post a half-length tally under the guidance of Rafael Bejarano. The sophomore filly went 6 ½ furlongs on the fast main oval in 1:16 1/5.

Monrovia S. (G2): D P Racing’s PRIZE EXHIBIT (Showcasing) clipped up the rail in midstretch and held on late for a nose victory in for conditioner James Cassidy. The four-year-old filly sped the about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:12 4/5 with Santiago Gonzalez in the silks.

Midnight Lute S. (G3): Matson Racing’s SAN ONOFRE (Surf Cat) tracked in second behind a clear pacesetter, took the lead in early stretch and then held off a late challenge, posting a half-length score with Alex Solis in the silks. The six-year-old gelding endured 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14 4/5 for conditioner Karen Headley.

Track Stats

From a total of 43 races held at the Arcadia, California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 30 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 44 percent of the wins. From 30 frays contested on the dirt oval, eight animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (27 percent), while two of the 13 grassy tilts were taken all the way on the front end (15 percent).

Speed and inner posts dominated the action on Wednesday, but that didn’t carry over for the rest of the week as all kinds had a chance going forward. Just four of the 24 dirt races from Thursday-through-Sunday were taken by the leader at the first call.

From two turf wire jobs, one came in a route and the other in a downhill dash. We saw horses laying close and winning, as well as late runners coming home first, on the turf last week.

Meet Totals

Races:

 

61

Dirt:

 

42

Turf:

 

19

Favorites:

 

17 (28%)

2nd Choices:

 

9 (15%)

Turf Wire:

 

3 (16%)

Dirt Wire:

 

10 (24%)

 

 

 

HORSES TO WATCH

Wednesday (12/30)

2ND – CHICAGO ANGEL (Illinois Storm) broke through in a big way after so many placings, drawing off to a sizable tally under Tyler Baze. Now that the four-year-old filly has learned how to win, she could be a serious factor versus winners next time.

4TH – David Jacobson made what could turn out to be a heady claim of CAN CAN BABE (McCann’s Mojave) out of this one, as the sophomore filly ran off to a second straight tally. The improving sort has proven capable on the dirt and turf and should give her barn options going forward.

6TH – SUNDAY RULES (Tribal Rule) seized an early lead and opened up in the lane en route to a fine stakes tally over a nice field. Now 7-for-8 overall, the Phil d’Amato-trained Cal-bred sped 6 ½ panels in a sharp 1:14 3/5 and seems set for a big year and to try graded rivals soon.

Thursday (12/31)

2ND – The Headley-trained SILVER SPIRIT (Tapit) rated kindly to the top of the lane before proving much the best late, recording an open-length maiden tally. The four-year-old gelding came home swiftly and might be a nice prospect going forward with continued improvement.

Friday (1/1)

6TH – BE A LADY (Cindago) was all heart in the lane in this tally and trainer Mike Pender might have made a bright claim of this sophomore filly who has bagged two in succession.

8TH – The Kristin Mulhall-trained CAUTIOUS GIANT (Giant’s Causeway) once again showed an affinity for the main oval with a game, nose decision with Gonzalez in the silks. The five-year-old gelding beat a solid and deep sprint field and is always a big danger at this venue.

Saturday (1/2)

4TH – The Headley-trained TEE EM EYE (Cyclotron) showed no speed when last at the top of the lane, but the first-time starter unleashed a big late burst to roll home a fine debut winner. The three-year-old filly didn’t stop the timer in a swift time, but she impressed from a visual standpoint and could be a solid prospect with more seasoning.

8TH – OBVIOUSLY was a bit unlucky in this one after leading nearly all the way at a distance that is a hint longer than his best trip. It’s good to see the eight-year-old, multiple Grade 1-winning gelding has more in the tank.

A Look Ahead

Saturday will play host to a pair of graded races at Santa Anita: the $200,000 San Pasqual S. (G2) and $100,000 Sham S. (G3).