The Player’s Edge – January 11, 2013: Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs & Golden Gate Fields

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Matt Carter

January 11th, 2013

Santa Anita – San Fernando Stakes


Gulfstream Park – Ft Lauderdale Stakes


Tampa Bay Downs – Gasparilla Stakes


Golden Gate Fields – California Derby


Santa Anita – San Fernando Stakes
Ten Go Two Turns

The second leg of the Strub Series at Santa Anita is this Saturday with the 61st running of the Grade 2 San Fernando. The mile and one-sixteenth race drew a field of ten with only two runners coming out of the first leg, the Grade 1 Malibu.

Feb Biz is the morning line favorite for the San Fernando even though the Giant’s Causeway colt has three wins in his career and is coming off two straight defeats by a combined 15 and one-quarter lengths. Perhaps it’s because hopes have always been high for this nearly $1-million purchase and he is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

Guilt Trip, another Bob Baffert trained colt, also exits the Malibu and may have more upside than his stable mate. Guilt Trip broke his maiden and won an allowance race at one mile and got the perfect prep in the Malibu. Jockey Joe Talamo has had a slow start to the meet, but won two races on Thursday and looks to have live mounts on Friday.

Baffert also has Mile High Magic, the likely pace-setter, and long shot Sky Kingdom. He is not the only high profile trainer in the race with runners from barns of John Shirreffs, Neil Drysdale, Eoin Harty, Doug O’Neill, Jerry Hollendorfer and Steve Asmussen.

Battle Force has only run on turf and synthetic in his five-start career, but the Giant’s Causeway-colt trains over the Santa Anita course so trainer John Shirreffs has decided to give him a shot. Battle Force exits a good second place finish in the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort, falling a length short of the fast-closing Silentio. There should be ample pace for jockey Garrett Gomez to run into.

Fly Lexis Fly, trained by Drysdale, has no early speed and will need a true pace to set up his late kick. Since coming to the U.S. in mid-July he has yet to be closer than three lengths at the wire. Perhaps the blinkers will help.

Regulus, trained by former Baffert-assistant Eoin Harty, looks to add pace to the race in his second start off the layoff. Regulus won over this track and distance back in late September, but that was on a speed-favoring track.

Doug O’Neill sends the Scat Daddy-colt Handsome Mike to post looking for only his second win in his last ten starts. That win came in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. In his other three starts on dirt, Handsome Mike has been beaten a total of 38 and one-half lengths.

Tribal Jewel, Hollendorfer, and Tritap, Asmussen, are a pair of allowance winners that did not draw well, posts nine and ten, for Saturday’s race. Leparoux on Tribal Jewel may opt to break and take back while Nakatani may decide to “Tapizar” the field and try to go wire-to-wire. Tapizar, by Tapit, was owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and trained by Steve Asmussen. Tritap is also by Tapit with the same owner/trainer/jockey combination. Perhaps lighting can strike twice.

Carded as race seven on the nine-race card, post time for the San Fernando is 6:36 ET.

Gulfstream Park – Ft Lauderdale Stakes
Grade 2 Turf Runners

The feature race on Saturday at Gulfstream Park is the 58th running of the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes for four-year-olds and upward at a mile and one-sixteenth on the turf course. The race drew a field of 11 with Dominus the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite.

Dominus has run two times on the turf in his career with a win and a sixth place finish, but the win was in a Grade 2 race this past summer at Saratoga. Of course he got an easy lead that day and waltzed home to the victory. When he did not get such a lead in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile, Dominus faltered late, running in last quarter mile in a slow 25 and three-fifths seconds. He has been working well in the mornings, but may need a start off the layoff.

Second choice on the morning line is Hollinger, who has won over $680,000 in his career. Winning in 2012; however, proved to be tough as the gelding finished second four times in eight starts. Last year in this race, Hollinger was third, beaten a half-length.

Nikki’s Sandcastle, on the other hand, won four races in 2012 including the Claiming Crown Emerald and the El Prado Stakes, both over the Gulfstream Park turf course. His last may have been his best yet; hung out in post 13, Nikki’s Sandcastle was still able to get up late. From post two, jockey Corey Lanerie will get a better trip just off the speed.

The horse to play, depending on price, may be Big Blue Kitten for trainer Chad Brown. The Kitten’s Joy horse has won six of 11 career starts highlighted by the Grade 2 Hall of Fame in August 2011 at Saratoga. The connections though enough of him to send the colt to Royal Ascot in June, which did not go as planned. Off for nearly six months after that he came right back to the races to score a determined win over Za Approval, who won his next start a week ago. Expect jockey Javier Castellano to break put his mount behind the dueling leaders Dominus and Fifty Proof.

Vertiformer, Sky Blazer and Tiz Sardonic Joe will be running late and could hit the board at a nice price. The long shots in the race are Quick Wit, Mucho Mas Macho and Empire Builder. Mucho Mas Macho has a chance to round out the superfecta with the expected hot pace.

Trying to catch Nikki’s Sandcastle and Big Blue Kitten; however, may be a different story.

First post on Saturday at Gulfstream Park is 12:45 ET with post time for the Ft. Lauderdale at 5:05.

Tampa Bay Downs – Gasparilla Stakes
Three-Year-Old Fillies Sprint Seven

Two $100,000 stake races on the Saturday card at Tampa Bay Downs with the Gasparilla for three-year-old fillies up first. The seven-furlong race drew a field of 11 led by morning line favorite Vitameta.

Vitameta makes her fifth career start on Saturday and has two wins and a second. The lone bad race on her resume was a fifth place finish, beaten over 28 lengths, in the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga in August. She looks to be the class of the field and got a good prep over the track in her last start, the Sandpiper Stakes.

Looking to upend the favorite are This Is How, Martha’s Moon and Floral Sky, who we start with, making her first start since the Grade 3 Delta Princes in mid-November.

Floral Sky was good enough to win her debut last May then finished fifth in the Grade 3 Debutante at Churchill Downs. She then came back with a score in an allowance race on the turf at Woodbine before tackling graded stake runners in the Princess. First off-the-layoff seems to be when Floral Sky strikes best and she will be running late under jockey Luis Contreras.

This Is How drew the rail for the Gasparilla and may show speed as she did in her second career start, a win at Laurel Park. She also has a win at a mile so the seven-furlong distance should not be a problem. Her speed figures; however, are light compared to Vitameta.

Martha’s Moon drew just to the outside of This Is How and is making her first start since an off-the-board finish in a turf stakes at Belmont Park. Prior to that race, Martha’s Moon won three of five races including the $75,000 Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware Park. She is another runner with early speed so the pace could be a fast one.

An interesting long shot in the race is Talent N Passion from the Agustin Bezara barn. Talent N Passion started her career at Calder with a win in three starts then absolutely freaked two weeks ago in a claiming race at Gulfstream Park, winning by a much the best eight and one-quarter lengths. The speed figure earned in that start puts her on par with the favorite.

With all the speed signed up and with a full field of newly turned three-year-olds, the pace could fall apart and if it does, Cotton Pickin will be doing all the work late. She is making her first start on the dirt, but is bred to handle it and just fired a bullet four furlongs last week.

Rounding out the field are Cindys Casino, Wildcat Lily, Ladystarturengine, Candy Coded Kisses and Carolinaonmymind.

Post time for the Gasparilla and start of the late pick-4 is 3:55 ET.

Golden Gate Fields – California Derby
Zeewat Morning Line Favorite

The Northern California three-year-olds get started on Saturday with the 98th running of the $100,000 California Derby. This year’s race drew a field of seven with Zeeway the heavy 6-5 morning line favorite.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Zeewat was won three of five races to start his career highlighted by wins in the Cavonieer Juvenile and Gold Rush stakes. Russel Baze is once again in the irons for the colt who has been working a hole in the wind in the mornings.

Condiment, second, and My Best Bet, third, also exit the Gold Rush Stakes and will need to make up beaten lengths on the favorite Saturday. Condiment should get a better pace to run at with stretch-out sprinter Wildcat Moon in the lineup. Wildcat Moon has been in-the-money in all seven of his starts and is making his stakes debut on Saturday.

Will True Up and Tree of Life are the new players in the Northern California game and see have their minds set on taking the money back down Interstate 5.

Will True Up drew the rail for the Cal Derby and is coming off a third place finish in the off-the-turf Eddie Logan stakes at Santa Anita. Prior to that race, Will True Up had only run on turf, breaking his maiden in a six furlong sprint at Hollywood Park. He should handle the synthetic surface and is bred to get the distance. It’s possible jockey Christian Santiago Reyes will opt to send his horse early, making even more pace, aiding in the chances of the next horse, Tree of Life.

Tree of Life was overlooked in his debut, but backers of the Lion Heart colt were all smiles on the way to cash out after he shocked a good Del Mar maiden field to the tune of $47. He then won the Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex park before a tenth place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and a fifth place finish in the Grade 3 Generous at Hollywood Park.

The Keeneland race was a toss, he broke from post 12 in the 13-horse field and simply ran around the track. Even though he finished 10th, Tree of Life was beat just under five lengths. In the Generous he pulled early and offered nothing late. Back on a synthetic surface with a hot pace to run into, Tree of Life looks enticing at 4-1 on the morning line.

Butterfly Soul is the final runner in the race, a filly facing the boys. While she is talented, this looks to be a tough spot to take on the colts and geldings.

Post time for the California Derby is 5:18 ET.

Thoroughbred Racing Action

Great racing action from across the country this weekend.  Watch these races all on

Saturday– January 12

  • Santa Anita:  San Fernando Stakes - G2, $150,000, 4yo, 8.5f
  • Gulfstream Park: Fort Lauderdal Stakes - G3, $100,000, 4yo & up, 8.5f turf
  • Tampa Bay Downs:  Pasco Stakes, $100,000, 3yo, 7f
  • Tampa Bay Downs:  Gasparilla Stakes, $100,000, 3yo f, 7f
  • Golden Gate Fields:  California Derby, $100,000, 3yo, 8.5f
  • Fair Grounds:  Pan Zareta Stakes, $75,000, 4yo & up f&m 5.5f turf
  • Laurel Park:  What A Summer Stakes, $125,000, 4yo & up f&m, 6f
  • Oaklawn Park:  Dixie Belle Stakes, $60,000, 3yo f, 6f
  • Sunland Park:  La Senora Stakes, $100,000, 3yo f, 6f
  • Turf Paradise: Turfway Prevue Stakes, $50,000, 3yo, 6.5f

Sunday – January 13

  • Santa Anita:  San Gabriel Stakes - G2, $150,000, 4yo & up, 9f turf
  • Gulfstream Park:  Hal's Hope Stakes - G3, $100,000, 4yo & up, 8f