Friday, January 8, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: San Pasqual Stakes (G2)
by Jeff Cobb a/k/a Chalk Eating Weasel

California Chrome's Come Back Race - will Hopportunity pull the upset?

Although I have been a long time member of Thorofan, this is my first stab at prognosticating a race. I take a bit of a contrarian approach to playing in races. Not that my handicapping is going to necessarily unearth that 50 to 1 gem, but that I am not a particular seeker of what is commonly referred to as value. My definition of value is a ticket which can be cashed. There is no value in holding a ticket on a 20 to 1 loser. I am not known as the Chalk Eating Weasel for nothing.  That is not to say that I will necessarily shun non-favorites. My philosophy is simple. Find the horse I think will win and bet on it. That being said, let's have a go at it.

The race is the San Pasqual, number 8 on Saturday's program at Santa Anita. The race is 8.5 furlongs on dirt.

From the looks of it, the track appears to favor speed, but I am not really that familiar with west coast racing so I am not entirely sure about that. Also, I really wish I had the sheets to work with, but the Saturday sheets are not yet available.  Than being said no excuses let's look at the field.

1. Alfa Bird--The Brisnet PP's rate Alfa Bird as an E8 meaning this horse likes to be on the lead, yet the early pace figures from his last two races are not much different than others in the race excepting the slow starting closers. Sitting on the rail, Tyler Baze may try to steal this race, but I think in doing so, the horse will get used early and not being a factor at the end.

2. Blingo-Has a grade 2 win at Santa Anita to his credit. However, that must've been a strange day at SA a he was 8.5 lengths back at the first call. The Brisnet pace figures tell me this horse is something of a grinder but lately he has not been able to make up much ground in the latter part of his races and I don't see him changing his ways on this day.

3. Point Piper- A six year old horse whose pace line looks more like a Turf runner than one who would take to dirt. He has done nothing but go backwards of his last win at Del Mar. It is said that the time to play an older horse is off the layoff since his may be the best race of his form cycle.  I don't see Point Piper winning the race, but he could get up into the trifecta or super.

4. California Chrome-First race back from Dubai (where North American horses go to kill their racing careers IMHO). Chromie loves the track and the distance. But...Artie is only a 7% trainer off a 90+ days away.  In addition, Chromie may be better 2nd of the layoff. There are some in this race he could beat on his worst days, but there are some other top class runners in here that I think I prefer over California Chrome in this race. Definitely use in the exotics, just not on top

5. Hoppertunity-Is one of the better runners in this race that could challenge CC for top honors. He also likes the track and the distance, Yet, he has no wins since last year in this very race. While he has not really had any down time in the last year, his races are well spaced at about one per month, and he is very consistent with 6 triple digit speed figures out of his last 7 races. Hoppertunity certainly has the opportunity for a San Pasqual double.

6 Hard Aces- He comes in after taking a post Breeder's Cup break. He may be up against it a little be here considering is mid to back of the pack running style. He has not shown much ability to make up ground in his last three. Of course, those were all Grade 1 races and now he is taking on, with a couple of notable exceptions lesser company. He is another who may hit the board, just not in the top spot.

7. Mystery Train-Why is he in this race? Why did Mike Smith take the ride? Another, like Alfa Bird who may go early and sputter out at about 6f.

8. Imperative- Another whose style will work against him on a speed a favoring track. He has no wins at Santa Anita but has managed to hit the board twice. May hit the board here, but there are others I like better.

The bottom line is that I believe this is a great opportunity for Hoppertunity. California Chrome seems most likely to finish 2nd and then you may see Point Piper and Hard Aces fighting it out for show honors.

The Play:
Let's put $50 to win on Hoppertunuty. $20 on a straight Hoppertunity/California Chrome exacta, and $15 trifecta with  Hoppertunity and Chromie over Point Piper and Hard Aces.

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