How to bet the 2024 Kona Gold Stakes

April 26th, 2024

A total of seven horses will go postward in Saturday’s $100,000 Kona Gold S. at Santa Anita. The headliner of the 6 1/2-furlong heat is the exquisite #4 The Chosen Vron (4-5) for conditioner Eric Kruljac, and the son of Vronsky will be especially difficult to knock off on his favorite course. A winner in nine of 11 local assignments, the Cal-bred has won his last trio of races dating back to November led by a stylish victory in the San Carlos S. (G2) in his latest endeavor. 

Kona Gold Wagers

  • $40 exacta 4 with 1 ($40)
    $8 exacta 1 with 4 ($8)

The Chosen Vron is 4-for-4 at the distance and can win from on the front end, or from off of the pace, and he figures to get a fine trip on Saturday tracking a pacesetter to his inside to the top of the lane. The chestnut gelding looks to be coming up to the dash in fine fashion, too, evidenced by his bullet half-mile morning drill as of late. Regular pilot Hector Berrios will be in the silks atop the mighty six-year-old once again. 

Multiple Grade 2 victor #1 Forbidden Kingdom (5-2) appears to be his main danger in the field, and the one to catch, as well. Trained by Richard Mandella, the son of American Pharoah looked like a superstar early in his sophomore season but trailed off after that, though he still remains a major talent. The fleet five-year-old took the Joe Hernandez S. (G3) in his turf debut to conclude 2023, and he has worked well in the interim, as well. 

The chestnut is very quick from the gate and could be unopposed in the early stages of the tilt in a field lacking speed for the most part. I envision a scenario where jockey Juan Hernandez sends the Kentucky-bred hard from the break and dares the favorite to run with him early on. He will need either a lifetime best performance, or for the favorite to put in a subpar effort, in order to pull off the upset, but Forbidden Kingdom wouldn’t be a total shock as the best alternative to the favorite in the sprint.