Betting With, and Against, Newgrange in the Santa Anita Handicap

March 1st, 2024

Seven talented runners will travel 1 1/4 miles on the main oval in Sunday’s $400,000 Santa Anita H. (G1) at Santa Anita. The feature on a huge day of action is led by the Phil D’Amato-trained #7 Newgrange (5-2), who has registered victories in both the San Antonio S. (G2) and San Pasqual S. (G2) at the meeting, and he looks especially tough to me in the strong cast.

The five-year-old son of Violence has good early speed to overcome the outside post, and his latest victory was much more impressive visually than it appears on paper. Newgrange, who is auditioning for a potential run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) at Meydan on March 30, didn’t impress in the contest in 2023 but is clearly a peaking animal right now, and he fired a bullet five-eighths in his latest morning move to signal that he continues to be in fine form, as well. Victor Espinoza will ride.

Newgrange – With

  • $50 win: #7 Newgrange ($50)

Newgrange – Against

  • $2 trifecta: 4,5 with 4,5,7 with all ($40)

If the morning-line choice fails to fire in the storied event, any of the other contenders in the field could benefit from it. #5 Newgate (4-1) was runner-up to the top selection in his latest performance and will likely move forward in his third run off the long layoff. The Into Mischief colt has plenty of room to improve when making just his fifth outing dating back to 2022, and the four-year-old has also trained well this season, led by a bullet six panels in preparation for this tilt. The $850,000 purchase will track the tempo while in range throughout under Frankie Dettori. 

I’m not in love with #4 Salesman (6-1) for Richard Mandella, who has saddled the winner of the race on three prior occasions, but I am quite intrigued that Flavien Prat opted to guide the son of Dubawi in the contest. The Irish-bred chestnut decimated his foes here in his second lifetime run on the dirt to cap 2023, and his subsequent works have been very good, as well. It’s quite possible that the veteran has found his niche running long on the main surface. 

Godolphin homebred #2 Highland Falls (3-1) commands respect for conditioner Brad Cox, but the Curlin colt seems like an underlay at fairly short odds in the race. The talented chestnut is 3-for-4 in his lifetime and will appreciate the move to 10 panels, but he landed in a pretty tough field, in my opinion, and I’m not convinced that he’s ready for this kind of assignment just yet.