The “Dude” is back everyone, as he’ll start his 2014 campaign with a title defense in the $300,000, GII San Antonio Stakes, for 4yo and up, at 1 1/8 mile over this usually fast Santa Anita main track this Saturday!
Another, nicely sized field of “7”, older runners will go to the gates here on Saturday as this race will be the first of 3 GII tussles on another big Santa Anita Saturday card!
Game On Dude , at 3/5, who is a multiple GI winner and the defending champ here was last seen surrendering the stretch lead to Will Take Charge (who’ll be the probable post time fav in the GI Donn Hcp at G/P, now changed to this Sunday) in the final jumps of last fall’s GI Clark Hcp at Churchill. 2 back he had another bad outing in the B/C Classic here last fall, finishing 9th, as the 8/5 m/l fav in his only graded loss of 2013 to that point! Seems to have head problems if him gets behind early though. So look for him on the early lead here this Saturday but he is going to have company from,
Blueskiesnrainbows, at 3/1, is the winner of the GIII Native Diver Stakes and GII San Pasqual Stakes here last out as both wins were all the way on the front end, too. This boy loves to go early as well, so look for this one to be locked into an early front end duel with Game On Dude, as it’s quite possible they will go at it all the way around this Santa Anita dirt course locked in battled right to the line!
Majestic Harbor , at 6/1, was back that 1 1/4 length, for 2nd, in the GII San Pasqual Stakes here last out behind Blueskiesnrainbows, as jockey Tyler Baze had drop his stick in deep stretch and was unable to urge his steed home for the win! This one however, has done almost all of he winning down at the alw level but does bring stakes and graded stakes experiences to this 2-turn tilt but with no board hits in any! Sometimes goes early, sometimes not, but last out sat a good stalking trip only to come up a bit short at the line. A good stalking trip might pay off in a board hit for him, especially if our expected early duel materializes!
Blingo , at 6/1, 2 back won the $100k ImABanker Stakes, going a 1-turn Belmont dirt 1 1/16 mile in a very nice 1:41.2 winning by 1/2 length after a solid stalking trip! He was a bit rank last out in that same GII San Pasqual Stakes here last month where he started 5th and never improved. This one has graded experience earlier in his career but had one long layoff a while back and this would his 4th race back off that layoff. No sign of early speed here either and like a few others in here he will need a big pace collapse to set up any chance at a board hit!
American Blend , at 10/1, winner of a Jan. 1st $62.5k Alw tussle here at 1 1/16 mile besting Den’s Legacy by 1/2 length running a good 1:42.4 time as he won with a nice closing drive! Mainly an alw winner, at times, over his career and will make his first ever graded appearance here on Saturday! He won’t be going out with the front-runners as a rule and strikes us as more of a picking up the pieces type!
Willyconker, at 20/1, is mostly known for his west coast turf adventures with a graded win here and there. Most recently he won a $40k Claimer here at 1 1/8 mile in 1:47.1 by 1/2 length with a crisp stretch run for the win! Turf to Dirt here but if not for his scant graded wins he probably wouldn’t be here at all! Closer for the most part and maybe picks up a piece at the end!
Imperative , at 30/1, offers only turf and poly form and winning only at the alw level, too! His only dirt form was a 2012 try in the GI Front Runner Stakes over this same strip finishing 10th, 35 lengths back and was probably eased there. He does seem to have some closing skills however, but he’d only be a super filler for us on Saturday and only at a really big price, too!
So, the 2014 GII San Antonio Stakes does seem to be just a 2-horse race but one never knows “on any given day” and this horse racing after all, where crazy things do happen! Lets see how the racing gods let this GII test play out!
Race #5 – Post Time – 2:30 pm Pst
|1.||Willyconker||F H Perez||118||E J Guillot||20/1|
|2.||American Blend||J Talamo||118||C Gaines||10/1|
|M A Pedroza||123||J Hollendorfer||3/1|
|4.||Majestic Harbor||T Baze||118||S McCarthy||6/1|
|5.||Game On Dude||M E Smith||123||B Baffert||3/5|
|6.||Blingo||A T Gryder||118||J A Shirreffs||6/1|
|7.||Imperative||K J Desormeaux||118||G Papaprodromou||30/1|
Picks are – 1,3,5,4 boxed exacta with the 6 or 2 in the back-end of a super play!