The Late Pick 4 on Gold Cup Day
by Scott Shapiro
The late Pick 4 on Gold Cup Day at Santa Anita Park offers four full field events, including the Grade 2 Monrovia run down the hill and the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita conducted as the 8TH race on the nine-race card.
As always, pressing your strong opinions and spreading as little as possible is recommended. Here are some quick thoughts on each of the four races:
The four-race sequence begins with an optional-claiming event conducted at seven furlongs over the main track. This 10-horse field is extremely competitive with the favorite listed at 7-2 and all but three runners listed at 8-1 or lower on odds-maker Jon White’s morning line.
Taman Guard (#9) is the aforementioned 7-2 favorite and one of two for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. While I have a hard time getting too excited about a horse making his first start against older runners off a layoff, the son of Midnight Lute projects to be alone on the lead in a race light on front-running types. If the gelding can clear from his outside post he may be tough to run down late.
For my full thoughts on the featured event see my article on “How to Wager on the Gold Cup at Santa Anita.”
Boy Howdy (#8) takes on open company foes after dueling three wide and prevailing in an impressive effort in the second start of his four-year-old campaign. He needs to prove he can compete against this caliber of competition and get the seven-furlong distance, but he could be sitting on a career best for trainer Bill Spawr.
Outside of these two, the other competitors will need a hotter pace than expected to get to the wire first. Pioneerof the West (#3) has races to go back to that make him competitive, but he is returning off a 10-month layoff. Pray Hard (#5) fits, but the seven-eighths of a mile is probably a bit longer than he prefers. Bolita Boyz (#7) has won at the distance, but will need a meltdown to get the job done.
The Grade 2 Monrovia
Two horses will take the bulk of the action in this 6 1/2-furlong dash down the hill. Illuminant (#4) is listed as the 9-5-favorite for trainer Michael McCarthy. She has won two of four down the hill and four of six at Santa Anita Park. However, I am concerned that her barn is ice-cold and that her tiring effort in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland may have taken too much out of her to be at her best on Saturday.
I prefer Enola Gray (#8). The daughter of Grazen has been dominant in two starts against state-bred stakes competition so far this year. She draws well to the outside and comes in fresh. She is my top pick.
If you are looking for price horses to include, Spy Ring (#2) chased undefeated Sircat Sally in the Grade 3 Senorita last time out. She is probably better at one turn and has the talent to be competitive, but it is always a challenge to take on older runners at the age of three this time of year. Watch This Cat (#3) has performed well over this course and had a tough trip from the rail last time out in the Mizdirection Stakes. She should improve with a cleaner trip.
The Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita
American Freedom (#1) is my top choice in the $500,000, 10-furlong event over the main track. I also give significant chances to 5-2-morning-line favorite Midnight Storm (#5) and veteran gelding Follow Me Crev (#2). Cupid (#6) is a wild card contender.
The final race of the sequence is a maiden special weight event conducted at 1 1/8 miles over the lawn.
I will be playing against 3-1-morning-line favorite Ziconic (#1). This son of the great Zenyatta consistently gets over bet because of his bloodlines and has done little to make me think today is the day. He got the perfect setup last time out at odds of 8-5 against a group with less quality, but could do no better than third.
Lucky Soul (#2), Ample Sufficiency (#5) and Oregon (#10) are my top two selections, but I will also give long shot looks to Miner’s Light (#3), Awesome Heights (#4) and Marq One (#9). Hopefully we can get to the final leg and beat the likely chalk.
Here is how I will wager on the late Pick 4 starting in Race 6:
8+9 with 2+3+4+8 with 1 with 2+3+4+5+9+10
3+5+7+8+9 with 8 with 1+2+5+6 with 2+3+4+5+9+10
9 with 2+3+4+8 with 1+2+5+6 with 2+3+4+5+9+10
8+9 with 9 with 1 with 2+5+10