Aqueduct, Horse racing, Keeneland, Santa Anita

Santa Anita stakes opinions for Saturday, April 6 (Plus Wood Memorial and Blue Grass)

SANTA ANITA

SECOND RACE (Evening Jewel): 1. Sneaking Out, 2. Tim for Kisses, 3. Ruby Bradley. LONG SHOT: Violette Szabo.

THIRD RACE (Grade I Santa Anita Oaks): 1. Flor de La Mar, 2. Bellafina, 3. Chasing Yesterday. LONG SHOT: Slewgoodtobetrue.
Obviously Bellafina is the filly to beat as the 2-5 favorite and trainer Bob Baffert tries to do it with Flor de La Mar and Chasing Yesterday. Flor de La Mar makes her first start around two turns and Baffert is 28 percent with this move and she’s bred to do so. Chasing Yesterday is coming back a little soon after a win in the March 24 Sunland Park Oaks and that’s not a normal Baffert move.

FIFTH RACE (Grade II Royal Heroine): 1. Space Talk, 2. Vasilika, 3. Meal Ticket. LONG SHOT: Ms Bad Behavior.
Vasilika is 3-5 on the morning-line favorite and deservedly so with nine wins over the course. Space Talk is making her second start in the U.S. and is bred to run all day. Her last looks like a prep to me and huge jockey change to Rafael Bejarano.

SIXTH RACE (Echo Eddie): 1. Tap the Wire, 2. Foster Boi, 3. Lieutenant Dan. LONG SHOT: Midnight Special.

EIGHTH RACE (Grade I Santa Anita Derby): 1. Roadster, 2. Game Winner, 3. Instagrand. LONG SHOT: Nolo Contesto.
If any of these four won the race, it wouldn’t surprise me. Roadster needs the points the most to get into the Kentucky Derby and maybe Baffert has him cranked up more than stablemate Game Winner, who is in the Derby and appears to be racing himself into shape after that huge second in a division of the Rebel. Instagrand also needs a first or second to get into the Derby and he figures to improve off that third in the Gotham.

NINTH RACE (Grade III Providencia): 1. Hostess, 2. Miss Flawless, 3. Lady Prancealot. LONG SHOT: Truffalino.
Hostess (12-1) and Miss Flawless (6-1) are both making their first starts in the U.S. after European campaigns and they are bred to run all day. Trainer Simon Callaghan is 24 percent first time in the U.S. so I lean to her. Miss Flawless is trained by Peter Miller, who is 21 percent with a horse off a 90-plus day layoff.

10TH RACE (Grade I Santa Anita Handicap): 1. Gift Box, 2. McKinzie, 3. Campaign. LONG SHOT: Mongolian Groom.
It certain looks like a two-horse race and the odds suggest that: 4-5 on McKinzie and 6-5 on Gift Box. Loved Gift Box when he beat the ill-fated Battle of Midway in the San Antonio and he has been training well for John Sadler in this spot.

AQUEDUCT

RACE 10 (Grade II Wood Memorial): 1. Haikal, 2. Final Jeopardy, 3. Tax. LONG SHOT: Hoffa’s Union.

KEENELAND

RACE 11 (Blue Grass): 1. Market King, 2. Dream Maker, 3. Signalman. LONG SHOT: So Alive.

Good luck.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS (Santa Anita races 2-7)

Top choice winners: 1 (Monydontspenitself $13.60, second race)

Second choice winners: 3 (Railman $2.80, third; Lomu $5.40, fourth; Cinnamon Twist $6.40, fifth)

Third choice winners: 0

Long shot winners: 0

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Del Mar, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita, Triple Crown

On to Kentucky for California Chrome

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California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza return to the winner’s circle after winning Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. BENOIT PHOTO

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The overwhelming sentiment when leaving Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on Saturday was that everyone saw the winner of next month’s Kentucky Derby. Heck, he might finally break the drought of Triple Crown winners.

And they well have, but maybe it wasn’t the horse you’re thinking about.

There’s no doubt that California Chrome was spectacular in winning Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. But will he be the winner on the first Saturday of May in Louisville, Ky.

The thing you have to remember is there will be a full field of 20 horses at Churchill Downs. There will be all kinds of trouble for all kinds of horses. There will be horses that don’t belong, and California Chrome surely isn’t one of those, but he could get stopped by one who is. Remember funny things happen in 20-horse fields.

I hope California Chrome wins it for trainer Art Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza and to stick it to the “bluebloods,” but I know too many things can go wrong. It just seems amazing to me that California Chrome was running last summer in Cal-bred races and now maybe the betting favorite in Kentucky. It brings back fond memories of Silver Charm, one of my all-time favorites.

Hoppertunity, who finished second to California Chrome, certainly belongs in the equation. He has run three good races in a row.

And perhaps the most impressive 3-year-old winner Saturday was Wicked Strong taking the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, seemingly passing the entire field in the stretch.

Personally, I’m keeping my eye on Commanding Curve, who finished third in the Louisiana Derby, to see if he gets in.

And don’t forget there are two more big preps this coming Saturday with the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby at Hot Spring, Ark.

Wait until all the data is in and then make your decision. Just think how many other times have you left Santa Anita on its Derby Day saying you thought you saw the winner of the Kentucky Derby?

You might have and you might not.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Saturday’s top choice winners: 0

Saturday’s second choice winners: 3 (Fashion Plate $6.20, fifth race; Nashoba’s Gold $7.40, seventh; Kerrilynn $10.60, 11th)

Saturday’s third choice winners: 4 (Reno Rebel $6.80, first; Storm Fighter $6.40, second; California Chrome $3.40, eighth; Seeking the Sherif $9.80, 10th)

Saturday’s long shot winners: 1 (Alert Bay $20.20, third)

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Sunday’s top choice winners: 1 (Crusher $7.60, first race)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 3 (Big Note $10.40, fourth; Congregationalist $11.80, seventh; Perfect Tango $7, ninth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 0

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Jules Journey $14.40, sixth)

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