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The Left Over Present

Posted by on 12/22/2015 6:32:41 AM

In most traditions, the 12 Days of Christmas begins on December 25 and goes to January 5 but for horseplayers, the best present that is left over after the 12 Days begins is opening day at Santa Anita on the 26th.

The prime-racing meet in California will treat fans to a number of champions. Eclipse Award winners California Chrome, Beholder, Nyquist and Songbird figure to showcase their talents during this stand.

Beholder was set to challenge American Pharoah in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but spiked a fever and had to be sidelined.

She is getting some R and R and will likely be back to the track early next year.

California Chrome has been strangely managed and has not run since last March in the Dubai World Cup but is now working at Los Alamitos and is pointing for the January 9 San Pasqual Stakes.

Nyquist, the unbeaten juvenile who is a cinch champ, proved he could go long in the BC Juvenile and his trainer Doug O’Neill will let the horse tell him where the next stop will be.

A strong possibility is the February 15 San Vicente Stakes at 7 furlongs.

Kentucky Derby preps will be pivotal at Anita this spring. The Sham will kick off the qualifying race on January 9, the Bob Lewis will follow with 10 points to be had and in mid March, the San Felipe will be worth 50 points to getting to the gate at Churchill. The Santa Anita Derby will be run for the 79th time and the winner will garner 100 points toward the Run for the Roses on May 7.

Two Santa Anita Derby winners in the last 4 years have won the Kentucky Derby and 10 overall have connected on the impressive Daily Double.

As far as style is concerned, for decades, speed was never more evident at this track and look for more wire-to-wire runners this season.

Horses that were stopping after setting moderate splits at the other SoCal venues could find it much easier to carry their zip in Arcadia.

Santa Anita played fast and hard overall last year for the most part. Velocity is good as usual, but with enough pace, you will probably be able to come from left field and still win.

The most astute players also give post positions consideration. The rail has always been tough at Anita on the dirt and down the tricky hillside turf course.

Be careful about betting horses on the hillside that draw the inside if they have limited speed. With that kind of style, runners make the risk of getting shuffled clearly evident.

Fans also have to resist the temptation of just betting off the recent Los Alamitos form. For the most part, the runners that plied their trade at that meeting were inferior to the runners that will be seen during this stand.

Don’t be averse to giving strong consideration to returnees that have not run since Del Mar or even beyond. Remember, this is a prestigious meet and the big barns have been preparing for this venue for weeks now.

Take it easy early in the meeting; let the form play out its hand, then pounce at the windows when the prime opportunity arises.



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