Thursday, February 10, 2011

Watching today's 7th from Santa Anita

This $62.5k optional claimer at 1 mile on the turf has an extremely intriguing 8-horse field for the 705p (ET) scheduled post and is today's race in the Del Mar contest.  Looking to end an 8-race losing streak in the Del Mar contest (ouch!), I landed on #3, Averoo, at an 8-to-1 M/L with a mythical $100W selection and argue that this 6-year-old gelding trained by John Sadler and ridden by Joel Rosario (55% in-the-money) can rebound off a dull 6f sprint on Dec. 5 at Hollywood. I like the added distance here and tactical speed.

Perhaps this is the drawback of watching video, but what drew me to this one was a game second-place effort in the $55k Riot in Paris on Nov. 5, 2010 at Hollywood, where after being squeezed badly at the start and settling further back than the past performances indicate, the horse finished behind Blue Chagall, who was pinned on the rail for much of this past Saturday's $100k Thunder Road at Santa Anita before making a bid to close 5th.

In my view, there is little early speed in today's 7th (maybe the rail horse Irrefutable, but no one that will break off a sub-23 second opening quarter), so I anticipate Averoo will get a nice stalking trip and can close versus this field, which has 4 good horses entered who have not run since June 2010.  I am not savvy enough yet as a handicapper to decipher whether "freshness" of, say, Bogie (Ire), the #7, or the 10 horse Who's Up, who have beaten tougher company in turf mile stakes and are 3-to-1 and 10-to-1 M/L, respectively, will prove beneficial for these particular runners; I'm tossing the others - Times Gone By and Jairzihno.

Otherwise, as one of my long-shot angles, I always keep tabs on A.C. Avila turf runners from Brazil, and he has Corey Nakatani (a 28% winner in 47 starts for the Santa Anita meeting) on the #6, Lieve, but in this case I will pass on the 6-to-1 M/L, a bit turned off by the horse's unproductive last two efforts (beaten 5th and 9th by a combined 14.5 lengths, but to the likes of Fluke, Caracortado and Amazombie).

Separately, I am really looking forward to Saturday's card at Gulfstream and the appearance in race 4 (a $100k optional claimer on turf at 1 mile) of Furthest Land, who produced huge exacta and Pick 3 scores on 2009 Breeders Cup day for me with a 21-1 victory in the BC Dirt Mile.  Contrary to my SA7 apprehensions above about deciphering the pros and cons of long layoffs, I'm more than willing at a 5-to-1 M/L to forgive Furthest Land's 2010 campaign, which included some lackluster performances, but in two Grade 2 events (the San Pasqual and San Antonio at Santa Anita, which I'd attribute to my BC bounce theory) and the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup.  The race at Churchill (and the horse's 2 turf tried at CD show he clearly does not like the Churchill turf) three months after Dubai is a throwaway, considering the rigorous schedule predating that event and that Furthest Land probably needed some freshening.  I'll get more into that race, and some of the others from Gulfstream's Saturday card, at some point tomorrow after work.

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