Player Quick Pick: Santa Anita for 1/10/2015

D.S. Williamson

January 10th, 2015

Grade 1 Clark winner Hoppertunity is the chalk in the Grade 2 San Pasqual on Saturday at San Anita. At 9/5, many horseplayers will think that Hoppertunity is offering overlay odds on the morning line. What it means is that the Bob Baffert trainee is likely to go off at 8/5 or even 7/5 to beat this field. Is there an overlay with a shot to take down the hot horse?

Santa Anita 8 | 7:09 pm ET

G2 San Pasqual for 4&Up going 1-1/16 mi

11 – Tonito M. – 10/1 – Breaking from post-position 11 could pose an issue for Tonito M., but if there is any jockey currently riding at Santa Anita that will find a way to dent the effects of a bad post draw, it’s Rafael Bejarano. Bejarano and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer have combined for 2 wins, 2 second place, and one third place finish in 8 starts in the past 14 days. That’s an excellent trainer/jockey combo record. Tonito M. won the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby before finishing second to Alert Bay in $200K stakes race at Zia Park. Alert Bay won the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile over the turf at Santa Anita over Home Run Kitten and Awesome Return on Dec. 26. Tonito M. has been working well for this and his record of 3 wins and 2 second place finishes out of 5 starts at the distance should give his backers a lot of hope. Rafa figures to get a nice stalking position right behind the likely fast pace.

4-Big Casanova – 5/1 – The victory in the Grade 3 Native Diver was as professional as it gets. A mile to a mile and an eighth is the distance where this six-year-old roan sired by Giant’s Causeway does his best work. The Peter Miller trainee gets the jockey that knows him best, Elvis Trujillo, to ride. Trujillo is 2 for 2 in the win column aboard the likely speed of the field and there’s no doubt that Elvis is going to push Big Casanova to the front in this and dare anybody to take him on. If nobody does, a gate to wire finish is a definite possibility for this tough late blooming winner of close to $400K.

2-Hoppertunity – 9/5 – The chalk has been extremely capable in his last four. Hoppertunity followed up a victory in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn in March with a second place finish in the Santa Anita Derby in April. Injury sidelined Baffert’s budding star until October where Hoppertunity finished second in a $62.5K optional claimer. That race was just a prep for the Grade 1 Clark, which Hoppertunity won by half a length. The field for the Clark could be questioned for class, though, and Hoppetunity has never followed up a top race with another top race. Could he bounce? Absolutely he could and if he does, at what should be 8 to 5 to 7 to 5 odds, someone else will pick up the pieces. Use him for sure, but betting on Hoppertunity to win the San Pasqual doesn’t constitute a value play by any stretch of the imagination.