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Santa Anita Projections

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 12/28/2010 9:15:05 AM

The astute bettors in this sport try to get ahead of the curve and see trends, biases and hot barns before they become the discussion at the dinner table so lets try to get a leg up on what to expect from the conventional dirt at Santa Anita this meet.

First off, you can’t fool with Mother Nature and if she intervenes and makes havoc with the rain the meet will suffer. But with that said, it probably won’t be any worse than the days the track lost with the incompetence of the synthetic they previously had installed.

Similar to listening to politicians, one has to be able to read in between the lines so lets examine some quotes by a few trainers about the track just before the meet opened.

Sharp guy Eric Guillot had this to say, Guillot: “It’s fast, but it’s not hard. This is like fine silica sand. This track will tighten up with water. I’m glad they’ve dosed it for training. This track is going to be very good. It will probably be a little speed biased. I think the dirt handicappers are going to love it. People with plodders are going to hate it.”

Bob Hess Jr., who has been around the game since leaving the Stanford college baseball field, has it right. Hess: “it looks like a combination of Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs. I think it will hold water well. Hopefully, the gamblers will be happy, because gamblers fuel our sport.”

Truer words were never spoken.

As far as the wear and tear of the horses, trainer Mike Machowsky reported that his horses had worked fast but ‘they’ve all come back good.’

Expect some visually impressive performances this meet. The synthetic tracks tend to bring horses together more, eliminate the need for speed and pretty much it makes good horses ordinary.

Bettors must fend off the tendency to bet on the form of Del Mar and lean toward taking the Hollywood Park form more seriously. That Cushion Track surface in Inglewood was much better than the Polytrack at Del Mar.

One popular angle was turf horses trying the synthetic surface but that angle will be all but history this meet.

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.

Remember, one of legit reasons Zenyatta failed to get up to catch Blame in the BC Classic was the fact she was not used to having all that dirt kicked in her face.

The same will be true of the closers that thrived during the all-synthetic California era.

As far as the stables are concerned, don’t be shocked if Bruce Headley has a great meet. He hated the synthetic and told anybody within earshot that they destroyed a lot of horses in his barn with rear-end injuries.

He likes to train his horses fast and this track should suit him just to a T.

Eastern barns to watch are outfits by Steve Asmussen, Tom Proctor, who’s Dad was a legend in California, Todd Pletcher and Richard Dutrow Jr.

Here’s hoping there is a return to the glory days of the game this meet.



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