More Than $1 in Purses at Santa Anita Park’s California Cup Saturday

Santa Anita Park horse racing bettors meet a stacked tripleheader this weekend.

Solid Friday and Sunday cards bookend a Saturday Spectacular, which features a big lineup:

  • More than $1 million in purses in California-bred races, known as the California Cup
  • A lucrative mandatory Pick 6 payout
  • A 10-race card 
  • A cross-country venture with Gulfstream Park in Florida

California horse race betting enthusiasts can access the action at the Arcadia facility just north of Los Angeles, or via wagering apps like TVG.

Here are the main components for bettors in the big ventures.

The mandatory payout in the 20 cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot has the likelihood of a $3 million total Rainbow Six pool. Five California-bred races, highlighted by the $200,000 Cal Cup Derby and the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic, headline the 10-race card which starts at noon.

The Rainbow Pick Six will be comprised of races 5 through 10, with fifth race post time scheduled for approximately 2 p.m.

The Cal Cup Derby, which was won by eventual Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome in 2014, will be contested at 1 1/16 miles. The Unusual Heat Turf Classic is for older horses at 1 1/8 miles on grass.

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Additional Cal Cup races for Saturday:

  •  $150,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile on turf
  •  $150,000 Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint, for older horses at six furlongs 
  •  $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint at about 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course

That’s only the California portion.

1/ST Coast to Coast Pick 5

Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, will present an all-new wager, the 1/ST Coast to Coast Pick 5, which will include a player-friendly 15% takeout. 

The Coast to Coast Pick 5, a $1 minimum bet, will be offered every Saturday and Sunday through April 9, which is Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Day.

With a No Consolation provision, there will be a 100% carryover of that day’s net pool to the next day’s Coast to Coast Pick 5 in the event there is no winning ticket with five correct selections.

Coast to Coast Pick 5 for Saturday, Jan. 7 races with approximate post time (Pacific Time) are as follows:

  • Gulfstream Park: 1:10 p.m., Race 9
  • Santa Anita Park: 1:30 p.m., Race 4
  • Gulfstream Park: 2:09 p.m., Race 11
  • Santa Anita Park: 2:30 p.m., Race 6
  • Santa Anita Park: 3:30 p.m., Race 8

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Bookending the Big Saturday Card

Friday at Santa Anita

A nine-race card starts at noon. Most of the races feature eight or nine horses. For many bettors, this is an ideal-sized field. There are just enough entries to make it interesting, but not too many to make handicapping impossible. 

The finale, a $62,500Maiden Optional Claiming race, looks to be wide open and the candidate for a good-sized payday.

Saturday has the aforementioned blockbuster race package.

Sunday has the Grade III Sham Stakes for 1 mile at $100,000. There are nine races with a noon first post.

Elite Jockeys Shine at Santa Anita

The Great Race Place features a slew of excellent jockeys. Two of them, Flavien Prat and Juan Hernandez, were among the top 10 money-winning jockeys in the just-concluded 2022 campaign. They are also expected to vie for the Santa Anita riding title.

Prat earned more than $29 million last year, second in the nation behind Irad Ortiz, and he amassed 235 victories in 1,007 mounts. His percentage of in-the-money finishes was 56% and he won 23% of the time.

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Hernandez, ninth on the circuit, is a lesser-known yet a rising star. He totaled just under $15 million in 869 mounts, notching 210 victories, 57% in-the-money finishes, and 24% wins.

Watch them go at it all year at Santa Anita and Del Mar.

In this meet, Hernandez, who won the 2022 Del Mar summer meet, has the jump.

Hernandez is off to a scorching start. In 30 mounts, he has eight victories, tops in the circuit. His in-the-money-percentage of 6o% also is exceptional. This means that any gambler, even a novice, would have a better-than-even chance of cashing a ticket just by playing Hernandez’ mounts across the board.

He’s also won $954,000 in the new meet, far and away the best in the circuit.

A great tactician, he maintains a steady demeanor and the ability to deliver victories both on favorites and longshots.

Prat has 33 mounts, four winners, and $262,000

Mike Smith is second on the money list at $347,000 in just 12 mounts.

Lanfranco Dettori has $313,000 in 20 mounts, including four winners.

Ramon Vazquez has notched $290,000 in 21 mounts.

Is this the breakout year bettors will talk about regarding Hernandez becoming an elite jockey?

We’re going to find out.

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Highlights from Last Weekend

Here are a couple of overall angles for bettors.

There are a slew of horses in the 2-to-1 to 5-to-1 range winning these races and the payouts are fair because the fields are large. Gamblers have been able to lean into many of these short-priced horses with confidence. Closers have shown an ability to rally on the turf.

A couple variations of the “key entry” betting system also were paramount.

The Las Flores Handicap on Saturday showed how a key-entry bettor can sparkle, even with the favorite.

For $12 dollars, a gambler can take a $1 trifecta key entry, putting one’s favorite horse in the first and second positions. Example: 1 in the first spot with the 2, 3, and 4 completing the second and third places. Followed by another ticket with the 2-3-4 in the first spot, the 1 in second and the 2-3-4 in third.

The horse must finish in either of those positions along with the three others you chose to fill out the trifecta.

Lady T captured the event at 2-to-1. Manorelli, who drifted from 8-to-1 to 25-to-1, bolted to the front and had an extra gear to hold second. Doris Mae, 9-to-1, was third. Samurai Charm, 6-to-5, finished fourth.

A bettor who keyed Lady T with these horses pocketed $357 for the $1 trifecta, using a horse that figured to run well. A good approach to this type of strategy is to take a favorite first and second with a number of longshots. You want the price horse to come in on the same ticket with your favorite selection.

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Even if you are taking a random stab with longshots hooked up with a favorite, this race only had eight horses. The keyed horse and the other three represent half the field.

For $24, you can take a keyed horse and add four horses in the same system.

And on Monday, there was a monstrous payout, which some could have backed into with this method.

Tootufftoswallow rallied and won the fifth race at 35-to-1. He bolted past Sweet Halo, the 2-to-1 favorite, down the lane.  She’s Just Fluffy surged to get third at 15-to-1 and Miss Kaline was fourth at 13-to-1.

The $2 superfecta paid a whopping $44,400, meaning the 10-center was worth $2,200.

The $1 trifecta paid $2,995 and a bettor could have backed into that by keying Sweet Halo with the right horses. Yes, it was a 12-horse field and a bettor has to get lucky with the right longshot. But a favorite running second to a bomb is the dream scenario for a big payout.

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Other Highlights

Bettors dialed up a big payday on Friday.

State of the Union won the eighth race, stalking the pace and roaring through the homestretch to win at 14-to-1. Big Swede was second at 8-to-1, completing a $235 exacta.

Economical, at 8-to-1, nipped 9-to-5 favorite Sippin N Kissin for third, which hiked the $1 trifecta payout to $863. When Sippin N Kissin held fourth, the $2 superfecta returned $4,843, meaning $2,422 for the $ 1 super and $242 for the 10-center.

There was no Sunday card to open 2023. 

The track used an abundance of caution, cancelling the Sunday action because of heavy rains.

Good luck finding and honing your angles all season long.

About the Author

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a writer for California Casinos, and has covered the horse racing and boxing industry extensively since the 1980s. He was an award-winning writer at the Press of Atlantic City. As a broadcaster, he has won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting, issued by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has called major fights for HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and other networks since the 1980s. He is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Dave shifted gears to cover the emerging legalized sports-betting industry in 2018. He now serves as the go-to authority on horse race betting across multiple websites, including California Casinos.