Weekend Undercard Plays for Santa Anita
Much of the focus at Santa Anita this weekend will be on the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, and deservedly so, as many of the top horses in training from the U.S. and abroad will converge during the blockbuster two-day event. But, there are numerous other fine races on the slate over Friday and Saturday that bear watching, and I have spotted some horses of interest to me in the undercard contests.
Race 1: Qatar Golden Mile S.
Trainer Bob Baffert is just 1-for-34 with horses trying the grass for the initial time, but smart maiden winner #4 Ultra Power (3-1) is controlling speed in a field lacking pace. The gray Curlin colt is bred for the trip, and I expect him to lead at every call with Frankie Dettori taking the reins.
Race 4: Golden State Juvenile S.
A big field of 12 Cal-bred runners will contest the seven-furlong heat on the main oval. The Steve Knapp-trained #7 Mr. Suds (12-1) is a live one at a big price with Kyle Frey in the irons. The Stay Thirsty gelding was a game debut winner in the spring, and following a long absence, the two-year-old failed to fire on the lawn off the shelf. The chestnut gets blinkers while returning to the dirt, and he also lands in a tilt lacking an abundance of class, as well.
Race 2: Twilight Derby (G2)
A well-matched field of sophomores will travel nine panels on the green in this spot. I liked both of the performances put in by #8 Almendares (8-1) since he arrived in the U.S. and expect him to pack a punch while making his third run since coming to the states. The Phil D’Amato pupil romped in an allowance fray at Del Mar in July, and the son of Havana Grey followed that up with a nice third in the Del Mar Derby (G2). Antonio Fresu has been on a nice run at the meeting, and he will rally the gelding from off of the early tempo.
Race 12: Allowance
The "get out" race of the weekend will be contested at about 6 1/2 panels down the Hillside Turf Course. I’m not thrilled about the post for #1 Stay and Scam (15-1), but the Square Eddie filly is a head shy of being unbeaten from a pair of lifetime runs on the lawn, and she also possesses pace in a field lacking early gas. The California-bred might be the one to run down in the lane with a clean break under Mario Gutierrez.