How to wager on the 2017 Santa Anita Handicap
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
While the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park and the Dubai World Cup at Meydan now overshadow the Santa Anita Handicap, it still offers top older horses a shot at a $750,000 purse and a Grade 1 win at the American classic distance of 1 1/4 miles.
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The 2017 “Big ‘Cap” did not entice 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and reigning champion older male Arrogate, but it did attract a field of nine that includes three Grade 1 winners such as Pegasus runner up Shaman Ghost and locally based ten-time winner Midnight Storm.
Indeed, these top two betting choices on the morning line appear to be a class above the rest of the 9-horse field. It is hard for me to envision many scenarios where either #1 Midnight Storm or #3 Shaman Ghost do not win the Santa Anita Handicap.
Midnight Storm has done most of his running on the turf throughout his 21-race career for trainer Phil D’Amato. The son of Pioneerof the Nile has won 7 of 13 over the lawn, including three consecutive graded stakes wins last year.
These connections had tried the main track once before in the 2015 Pacific Classic, but got caught up in a wicked speed duel with 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and finished dead last.
They decided to give the dirt another try in last November’s Grade 3 Native Diver and Midnight Storm put forth a dominating wire-to-wire win.
In his 2017 debut, Midnight Storm once again took a group of four gate-to-wire in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes setting him up for Saturday’s mile and a quarter event. He has to prove that he can get the ten furlongs as well as beat one of the top handicap horses in the States in Shaman Ghost, but he should be able to dictate terms on the front end for the third straight start giving him a big shot.
The aforementioned Shaman Ghost is the other likely winner in Saturday’s “Big ‘Cap.” The James Jerkens runner ships west after his strong performance in the Pegasus. The winner of 6 of 14 lifetime has hit the board in 5 of 6 races since the start of 2016 and has shown an affinity for the mile and a quarter distance with a win and a second in 3 starts.
Shaman Ghost has the class and numbers that should win this if he can transform his current form to Southern California and Javier Castellano does not leave him with too much to do late.
With one of the two favorites likely to win, it appears that the best chance at finding value in the “Big ‘Cap” is underneath in the vertical wagers.
#6 Follow Me Crev was on quite a roll in 2016 before being unable to compete in last year’s rendition of this race due to injury. The five-year-old is likely a cut below the top two on their best day, but he makes his second start off the layoff for hot training Vladimir Cerin.
In his first race off the bench, he came from last to run down a compact field of high- level optional claimers. He likely will find himself mid-pack on Saturday at the ten-furlong distance and should have every shot when they turn for home.
I do not think Follow Me Crev is fast enough to win, but he looked good off of a significant layoff last time out and should move forward off that effort. He has a huge shot to hit the board. I will key him for second and third in both the trifecta and the superfecta and hope Kent D can give him another ground saving ride.
Here is how I will wager on the Santa Anita Handicap (Race 10)
$2 Trifecta Wheel
1+3 with 6 with ALL
$2 Trifecta Wheel
1+3 with ALL with 6
$5 Trifecta Wheel
1+3 with 6 with 1+3
1+3 with 1+3 with 6
$1 Superfecta Wheel
1+3 with 1+3 with 6 with ALL
1+3 with 6 with 1+3 with ALL
Total Budget= $100
all of Scott Shapiro's selections for Santa Anita Park are available via Brisnet.com's Daily Selections full-card analysis with best bets. Follow him on Twitter @ScotShap34