Jeff's Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap Preview (Race 11)
Saturday, March 5th, 2022 (5:00 PM PT)
#1 Spielberg (8/1), trained by Bob Baffert & ridden by Abel Cedillo
Purchased for 1 million dollars.This 4-year old Chestnut Colt by Union Rags has finished in-the-money in 7 of 11 (3-3-1) starts with career earnings of $475,900. Finished 4th in the San Pasqual Stakes on 2/5/22, earning a 96 Equibase speed figure. The workouts have been fast, but Baffert is known for that. If you see a Baffert horse with a slow work pattern that would be a red flag. Improving speed figures in three straight races is encouraging. The one big question remains. Has this horse reached its peek. My answer would be yes. Never a good sign when Prat chooses to ride a different horse. I don't think this horse can handle 1 1/4 miles. I do like the combination of Baffert and Cedillio. Toss!
#2 Why Why Paul Why (6/1), trained by Michael McCarthy & ridden by Juan Hernandez
Funny name. Was claimed for $30,000 which has proven to be a good one. Has been first or second in 11 of 19 starts (6-5-0) with career earnings of $196,178. Finished second in the Jazil Stakes on 1/22/22 at Aqueduct after winning four straight. The speed figures are solid with a 104, 108, and 101 in his last three. He will be making his first start in California for his new trainer (McCarthy) after racking up five wins in seven starts for trainer Penny Pearce on the East Coast. Takes a major step up in class today. His speed figures match-up with the big boys. I really like McCarthy and Juan Hernandez, who are both underrated in my opinion. Most people named Paul will bet this horse. Use Underneath!
#3 Warrant (4/1), trained by Brad Cox & ridden by Flavien Prat
A good band back in the day. Has never finished out of the money in eight starts (3-3-2) with career earnings of $649,700. Warrant is by Constitution, who has produced numerous graded stakes victories. Finished third in the Louisiana Stakes on 1/22/22, earning a 101 Equibase speed figure. Before that, he won the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby earning that same 101 speed rating. His speed figures are a notch below some of his rivals, but he's lightly raced as a 4-year old and eligible for improvement. Prat finished fourth with Independence Hall last year. I think this horse is better! Win Contender!
#4 Soy Tapito (20/1), trained by Doug O'Neill & ridden by Diego Herrera
Has two wins and two thirds from six lifetime starts ($101,480). This gelded son of Not This Time will make his Graded stakes debut after winning two in a row. A MSW win on 1/8/22 at Santa Anita, followed by an Allowance victory on 2/18/22, earning a career-best 106 speed figure. Intriguing horse and those two wins at Santa Anita were visibly impressive. Mercado Racing and Doug O'Neill have high hopes for this horse, hence the quick turnaround. Soy Tapito is bred to go long. This horse won his maiden in front-running fashion and than rallied with a sustained come-from-behind win last time out. Apprentice jockey Herrera has options. This could be his breakout performance. Longshot Win Contender!
#5 American Theorem (12/1), trained by George Papaprodromou & ridden by Mike Smith
This son by American Pharoah has finished first or second in five of eight (2-3-0) with career earnings of $169,267. Hasn't lived up to the hype. Finished 6th (last) in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes on 2/5/22. The speed figure was slow (86) and there was a legitimate excuse. AT got shuffled back on the first turn losing momentum to eventual winner Express Train. I would expect jockey Mike Smith to engage AT earlier out of the gate. Does he have enough class to win this type of race. Yes, but hasn't shown it yet. Until he does you can Toss!
#6 Express Train (8/5), trained by John Shirreffs & ridden by Victor Espinoza
I will always have a soft spot for Victor Espinoza as he was the first jockey to ride my horse, Tizamagician. The Train has finished in-the-money 13 of 16 starts (6-4-3) with career earnings of $935,800. Very impressive. He won the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes on 2/5/22 earning a 106 speed figure. Before that, he won the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes and certainty loves running at Santa Anita. Improving speed figures in three straight races. ET has won four Grade 2 races and is looking for a bigger prize. The 5-year old colt by Union Rags will get plenty of action at the window. I am not sold on him in this race. The One to Beat!
#7 Kiss Today Goodbye (15/1), trained by Eric Kruljac & ridden by Kyle Frey
Speaking of Tizamagician, he's beat this horse several times in graded stakes action. Kiss Today Goodbye has three wins, one second, and three thirds from 17 career starts ($306,302). Not sure why the connections keep running in graded stakes. Finished 7th in Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup on 1/23/21, 6th in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap last year, 8th in the Grade 2 San Diego on 7/17/21, 2nd in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes on 11/21/21, 7th in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes on 12/26/21, and 5th last time out in the Grade 2 San Pasqual on 2/5/22. Does that give you confidence to back this horse? Maybe he wakes up in this Grace 1 at a nice price. Even with this soft field, I would be shocked if he won. Toss!
#8 Stilleto Boy (5/2), trained by Ed Moger Jr. & ridden by John Velazquez
Has finished in-the-money 10 of 13 (2-3-5) career starts, earning $833,175. The 4-year old Chestnut gelding by Shackleford has been running in Grade 1 races only. Finished 3rd in the Pegasus World Cup to Life is Good and Knicks Go, 3rd in Grade 1 Run Happy Malibu Stakes losing to Flightline, 5th in the Grade 1 Breeders Cup Classic, and 2nd in the Grade 1 Awesome Again losing to Medina Spirit (RIP) who was probably cheating. I can't prove that though. Positive jockey change to Velazquez, who does well on horses with a pressing/sustained running style. Owns the highest Equibase speed figure (117) of the bunch which occurred in his last race. You can make the argument that Stilleto Boy is getting class relief after facing those juggernauts in the Pegasus World Cup. Win Contender and my Top Choice!
Jeff's Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap Selections
Play #8 Stilleto Boy (5/2) to win, place, and show (I would expect we get at least 7/2)
#3 Warrent (4/1) (Place)
#4 Soy Tapito (20/1) (Show)
#6 Express Train (8/5) (Fourth)
$1.00 Trifecta Box ($24)
Using the four horses above.