Friday, January 1, 2016

“Handicappers’ Corner: Santa Ynez Stakes

Looking for Treasure in the Santa Ynez Stakes

By Reinier Macatangay, Lady and The Track
Races are sometimes confusing enough to consider skipping. The Santa Ynez (GII), filled with three different Bob Baffert-trained fillies, is difficult. Still, a quick rundown might lead to a few ideas.

From the rail, My Dynamo sports a 2 for 3 record sprinting on fast dirt. Her defeat came by 22 lengths in the Del Mar Debutante (GI). Class handicappers will note the winner Songbird, who later won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) without breaking a sweat. While she can win, her form is unreliable.

Next to My Dynamo in the starting gate, the double-digit longshot Rockantharos seems set to gun for the lead for trainer Peter Miller. She also makes her second career start, which is a dangerous angle. If no one else is sent early, Rockantharos is capable of wiring them. Too many question marks for now though. 

Two stalls down, Treasuring makes her sixth career start. The daughter of Smart Strike and the blueblood mare Teeming, Treasuring certainly owns a pedigree to become a nice stakes horse. Unfortunately, her record seems disappointing at first glance with only one win out of five starts.

Some readers will argue Treasuring offers potential to move forward, but Treasuring comes from a precocious dam named Teeming who won three out of four races. Furthermore, Treasuring’s sibling Streaming won her first two races. Both Streaming and Teeming retired early.

In addition, Baffert trains horses to win early, and if one struggles, it is fair to question whether there is a rare “lemon” in his barn. Treasuring deserves another chance because of the weak field. If she fails, perhaps a nice broodmare career awaits.

One Last Shot, who starts from the fifth post position, owns one win and a second from two dirt efforts for Baffert. The second-place finish came against My Dynamo. Pay no attention to the turf races.

Absolutely nothing stands out in One Last Shot’s past performances. Yet, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who selects his horses carefully, gives this filly a chance. Take it as a good sign.

Of course, much attention will go to Baffert’s third entrant Pretty N Cool, who failed miserably as the heavy favorite in the Desi Arnaz at Del Mar. Then she faded to fourth in the two-turn Starlet (GI).

While a win by Pretty N Cool is possible, it is not a good idea to completely trust a horse who failed to hit the top three at short odds for two races in a row. Bettors will forgive the Starlet fade too, as she cuts back to a sprint for this race. Include Pretty N Cool with other options, but do not rely on her.

On the far outside, Forever Darling returns after finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI). Normally, bettors should avoid horses coming out of the Breeders’ Cup because the public loves to bet down a well-known horse. In this case, the attention will go towards the above three Baffert fillies.  

Forever Darling won her second start at the same distance and racetrack. The first start is entirely forgivable as a learning experience. Do not underestimate her.

Handigambling (vertical wagering plan with $100 bankroll): Treasuring, One Last Shot, Pretty N Cool and Forever Darling over My Dynamo keyed in the second slot for $25 exactas each.

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