Spot plays for light Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita
by Scott Shapiro
The Saturday card at Santa Anita Park is extremely light on star power after the abundance of graded stakes run over the first two weeks of the autumn meeting, but there is still an opportunity to make some money and pad our bankroll as we approach the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships next month at Del Mar.
Here are a few horses I will key in on over the nine-race slate. The rail appears to be the theme of the day as we hope for a trio of horses that drew the 1-hole to get their picture taken.
This six-furlong sprint for state-bred two-year-olds has a number of runners who come out of the 1ST race on September 4 at Del Mar. The opener that day saw General Interest handle that group and Gringo Star finish second, but I was not impressed with those who finished behind the top couple. For that reason I am going to look to a newcomer to the Southern California circuit.
Smart Knows Smart (#1) does not provide much value at 5-2 on Jon White’s morning line, but he appears to be in a good spot to find the winner’s circle for the initial time this weekend.
The son of Eskendereya took on open company maidens at Indiana Grand on September 2 for trainer Steve Asmussen. The 2016 Keeneland September $75,000 purchase showed tactical speed going two turns and ran well early, but tired late to finish a well-beaten third to a runaway winner.
Asmussen cuts him back to a sprint, gets him in with California-breds and legs up veteran Corey Nakatani, who has been on fire to start the meeting. If he can avoid traffic trouble from the rail draw, Smart Knows Smart should be able to get the best of this group late at the 6 1/2-furlong distance.
5-2 or higher is fair value.
The 4TH is an optional claimer at one mile over the Santa Anita lawn and features a field of 10.
Radio Silence (#1) looked like a legitimate graded stakes animal after winning his debut at Leopardstown in Ireland, and then two races later running second to Churchill at the Curragh in the Futurity (Ire-G2). However, after those starts he appeared disinterested, failing to hit the board in four straight for former conditioner James Bolger. His connections decided to ship him to the United States to get firm ground and the addition of Lasix.
He landed in the hands of Richard Baltas, who has been as good as anyone with turf routers making their first start in his barn. Radio Silence comes in off a strong series of works, including a bullet five-furlong drill in :59.80 on September 30.
If the son of War Front gets back to anything close to his first couple of races last summer in Europe, he should crush this group. It is encouraging that Flavian Prat takes the call for his first try in North America.
I would not take anything less than 5-2, but at that price or higher Radio Silence is worth strong consideration based on the talent we have seen and the addition of Lasix.
The Saturday finale is a state-bred special weight event at one mile over the Santa Anita sod.
There are several in this group who have proven they can run a bit, but have lacked the desire to win even when they have been the recipients of perfect trips. Therefore, I am going to side with a lightly raced horse who should offer value in the win pool to close the day.
Arunachala (#1) ran an even fourth in her first start going five furlongs over the turf at Del Mar in late August for trainer Peter Eurton, Based on pedigree, Eurton’s patience with his lightly raced horses, and the fact jockey Mario Gutierrez hardly asked her, I get the sense that was a prep for a two-turn race in the fall.
Arunachala has four steady works at Santa Anita Park since her debut and moves from open company into the state-bred ranks on Saturday. She does not meet any “world beaters” in this bunch. I expect significant improvement as she goes a route of ground for the first time.
6-1 on the line seems very fair.
Good luck at the windows!