Strong Field in G2 Palos Verdes at Santa Anita Saturday


Winner of the G1 Ancient Title and G1 Bing Crosby over synthetic tracks, SMILING TIGER acquitted himself quite nicely when moving to dirt for his last two starts, the G1 Malibu Stakes and Breeders' Cup Sprint, recording runner-up and third-place finishes, respectively, against top-class competition. The four-year-old will drop into a much easier spot Saturday in the G2 $150,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita.

It took a record-setting performance to beat him last time, as Twirling Candy  shaved Spectacular's Bid's seven-furlong mark when capturing the Malibu in 1:19.70, and Smiling Tiger also ran faster than the legendary Hall of Famer, falling only a nose short after an exciting stretch battle. The Jeff Bonde-trained colt missed by only 1 3/4 lengths in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after bobbling at the start, and the speedster has posted exceptional BRIS Speed ratings of 106 and 105 in his last outings.

Regular rider Russell Baze will retain the mount aboard Smiling Tiger, who should be difficult to catch from his rail post.

Six runners will line up against the heavy favorite in the six-furlong event, and VENTANA owns the best credentials. Winner of the G2 Potrero Grande Handicap two starts back, the five-year-old also finished a half-length second over the Pro-Ride in the 2010 Palos Verdes. He hasn't started since a fourth in the G2 Churchill Downs Stakes last May, but Ventana is conditioned by Bob Baffert, who is winning at a sizzling 43 percent clip this meet (17-for-39), with four stakes tallies to his credit. Rafael Bejarano will guide the stalker.

HUNCH will return to stakes company for John Sadler. Sidelined 11 months following a fifth in the 2009 G1 Malibu Stakes, the lightly-raced horse rediscovered the winner's circle in his second start back from the layoff, posting a 2 1/2-length allowance/optional-claiming victory at Hollywood Park that netted him a 100 BRIS Speed rating. The five-year-old will pick up the services of Rafael Bejarano. Stakes winner GATO GO WIN, who exits a non-threatening second in the G3 Vernon Underwood, rates as a logical top-three candidate with Pat Valenzuela.

Santa Anita will also offer the $75,000 Sweet Life S. down the hill for three-year-old fillies. CLONEYLASS, who finished third as the favorite in the G3 Miesque Stakes most recently, and last-out maiden winners ORANGEBLACKANDGOLD and ADVANTAGE PLAYERare among the contenders in the 10-horse field.

First post at Santa Anita on Sautrday is set for approx. 3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT. 

Handicapping Santa Anita 

  • National Turf Clocker Reports - Andy Harrington's in-depth clocker report for daily racing in Southern California. Features workout commentary and ratings.
  • Today's Racing Digest -  Since 1970, Today's Racing Digest has been providing horseplayers winning handicapping information that goes beyond traditional past performance products. California edition. 
  • Bob Selvin's Fair Odds & Analysis for Santa Anita - Unique, incisive commentary and fair odds / very good bet odds, is available later than most products as Bob does his very best to include late scratches, changes and track condition.  Find it under the Handicapping Link at