Here’s a trifecta for California horse racing betting enthusiasts this weekend at Santa Anita Park.
- Live racing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 12:30 p.m., at the Great Race Place, located just north of Los Angeles in Arcadia.
- A pair of $200,000 races on the Saturday card, a Coast to Coast Pick 5 between Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park, and the $3 million Pegasus World Cup coming from Gulfstream. California bettors can wager on it between live races at Santa Anita, or, as they can with the entire Santa Anita card, bet via the TVG app.
- One of California’s own, Santa Anita’s leading trainer Bob Baffert, heads east to enter Defunded in the Pegasus. California bettors know all about Defunded from his stakes victories here last year.
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Let’s take a look.
An eight-race card with a combination of some wide-open races and those with short fields.
The first has a field of nine going 1 mile on the turf in maiden special weights. None of the horses in this group have a victory. The board is ripe for a mid-sized entry or longshot to do well.
Bettors have a good opportunity here.
A nine-race card with several highlights.
The $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes is Race 2 and has a field of six.
The $200,000 San Pascual Stakes goes off as Race 8 and has a field of nine, including some big names California bettors have cashed tickets on.
The ninth has 12 horses and could pay well both on the win line and exotics.
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The big lineup includes the Coast to Coast Pick 5. Here’s more info on that:
- Five races from Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park
- Every Saturday and Sunday
- $1 minimum bet
- Player-friendly 15% takeout
- 100% carryover to next day’s Pick 5 if no ticket has five winners
The card starts at 12:30 p.m., headlined by the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs and the $100,000 Clocker’s Corner Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.
Pegasus World Cup
Because Santa Anita Park has a live meet, Golden State bettors can wager on the biggest race of the year, the $3 million Pegasus World Cup coming from Gulfstream Park. It goes postward at about 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
Check out these big races from Gulfstream too.
- The $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (Grade I)
- The $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade III) and four other graded stakes
- Eight total stakes offer $5.3 million in purses
This is a huge day.
A Closer Look at Baffert’s Mission
The Hall of Fame trainer has more than the emotional support of fans who like seeing Santa Anita represented on the industry’s major stage on Saturday.
Bettors have long banked his ability to bring horses east and win. Last year, he brought California-reared Taiba to Monmouth Park in New Jersey, where he finished a game second at the $1 million Haskell Stakes. Two months later, Baffert shipped Taiba to Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, where Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.
This time, he’ll go east with Defunded, who has two nice victories, including the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.
Defunded breaks from the 5 post in a race that includes Breeders’ Cup runner-up Cyberknife, Proxy, and Gulfstream veterans Simplification, Skippylongstocking, and White Abarrio.
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San Pascual Stakes
A Look at Saturday’s $200,000 San Pascual, from the rail out.
None of the horses in this field has a win at this 1 1/8 mile distance.
Won the $100,000 Affirmed in just his third outing, romping by five at 1 1/6 miles. Impressive stretch-out. On the flip side, he won in a four-horse field and that race was back in June. Big layoff. Also must stretch to 1 1/8 miles.
Lightly raced — that will be seen as an edge.
Still seeking the form that brought him the $1 million Pacific Classic in 2021. Won the same race that Flightline romped in last year and Maximum Security captured the year before.
Winless since that effort and has only hit the board once. Beaten by Newgrange in allowance company, far less than this.
Direction has been backwards. Can he wake up?
Prevailed in allowance company, but failed to hit the board in two subsequent stakes races. Past performance would peg his ability level to about fifth in this field. A slight improvement and he gets into the exotics.
Garnered a nice third in the Twilight Derby at Santa Anita, on turf. Followed with a triumph in the $250,000 Zia Park Derby, paving good credentials for this level.
Bettors will forgive his distant fifth to Taiba in the Malibu Stakes. Taiba is on a different level and that race was seven furlongs.
Must move from allowance company to stakes and try 1 1/8 miles for the first time. American Pharoah breeding is a plus, but this is a big class jump and a tall task.
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Baffert’s horse started a blazing 3-for-3 and then was upended as a heavy favorite in the Rebel Stakes last year. Hit the board in three subsequent races.
Was a distant third to Defunded, another Baffert horse, in a $100,000 stakes race at Del Mar. Defunded went to the $3 million Pegasus; Newgrange races here, for $200,000.
Always around the board. Will be played, but having trouble winning. Gets leading jockey Juan Hernandez.
Takes another crack at stakes company on dirt. Spent 2022 in turf races and did not look comfortable. Finished a distant fourth in the 2021 San Antonio Stakes, a similar level to this, in last prominent dirt race.
Hasn’t done his best running in quite some time.
Distant third in the San Antonio Stakes last month. Was at least interested. Ability level could put him in the exotics.
Claim to fame was leading the Kentucky Derby at the top of the stretch last year. And then he faded to 16th.
Has regressed while others improved. Taiba, who nipped him in the Santa Anita Derby last spring, beat him by a zip code in the Malibu several months later.
Handicapping Advice: Watch How the Track Plays
Like the song says, it never rains in California. It pours, man it pours.
And for bettors who spotted a trend toward closers last weekend, it poured money.
Santa Anita is usually speed-favoring, but the deluge from early January most likely impacted the running surface and closers came out of nowhere to upend the frontrunners in the stretch.
The track had roughly 15 inches of rain in two weeks and had canceled some cards for good safety measures. When racing resumed, the track played heavy.
Several favorites were well-positioned with seemingly sensible fractions and were overtaken.
That’s a good thing to watch going forward, especially in the first couple races on the card. When horses start coming from last to first, the handicapping angle will be to fade the speed, even if it’s a favorite. Not an easy decision, but when it pours, man it pours.
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On Friday, a stunningly good payout of $106 marked the first-race exacta featuring 3-to-1 winner Vantastic and 21-to-1 longest-shot Baladi, who rallied. It was only a six-horse field.
What enabled the payout: Moody Jim at 6-to-5 and Ready Soul at 9-to-5 gave up the lead in the stretch. Ready Soul with Juan Hernandez finished third and the $1 trifecta returned $200.60. That’s a sweet chunk of change for a small field.
In the eighth, Club Cal made a sweeping move from last to first to prevail at 10-to-1. Sunrise Journey and My Man Bags, 9-to-2, were second and third. The $1 trifecta returned $293.
On Saturday, Duvet Day at 13-to-1 came from the back and caught Queen of the Temple just before the wire. The exacta paid a sharp $109.
In a previous matchup, Queen of the Temple had finished several lengths ahead of Duvet Day. But with speed tiring in this race, the closer pulled off the big win.
Sunday’s fourth race put another big circle on this trend.
Even-money shot Kiss My Kat was winning so easily, that track announcer Frank Mirahmadi said he was on cruise control at the top of the stretch. He had the type of lead speed horses almost never relinquish.
But Agree to Settle came from last to first at 11-to-1. Kiss My Kat was second and hard-closing Chevy Girl was third at 20-to-1.
The $1 trifecta paid $392 with the even-money shot in second. That’s a nice payday.
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