Here’s a nice trifecta for California horse-racing bettors.
The dawn of June brings a weekend of live racing to Santa Anita Park, the industry watch on Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and the sweet memory of a lucrative Memorial Day weekend for many Golden State gamblers.
First, is the live California horse racing package.
The Great Race Place unfurls an eight-race card on Friday nine on Saturday and Sunday.
Post time for the first race each day is 1 p.m.
Friday has small to moderate fields. Bettors will be focused on win bets and a narrow focus on the exotics.
Saturday’s highlight is the $200,000 Summertime Oaks.
The Sunday main event is the $100,000 Affirmed Stakes.
It takes place at 4:30 p.m. over 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, for fillies.
Here’s a look at the seven-horse field, from the rail out.
The Alys Look
This is a sharp filly shipping in from the Midwest, where she ran third in the Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks. Lost twice to Pretty Mischievous, one of the top names on the 3-year-old filly circuit this year.
Should be able to compete if she takes to the surface.
Comes off two impressive Santa Anita efforts. One was a monster triumph at maiden special weights company. The next was a valiant third in the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks. This is a drop to $200,000, a favorable positioning.
Fortunately, she does not face Faiza, the filly who romped in the Oaks. A better trip and she’ll be in it.
American Pharoah breeding. On paper, pace factors set up well for her.
And Tell Me Nolies
Echoes the sentiment of Window Shopping. No Faiza, thank goodness. She captured second in the Santa Anita Oaks, barely ahead of the troubled Window Shopping. The drop in class makes her relevant.
Like Window Shopping, seems to prefer an early stalk and then a gallant move.
Will have work cut out for her. Beaten by Anywho, her rival here, in allowance optional claiming company. Notched a nice subsequent victory in the $75,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields, although that was on synthetic.
Comes back here for $200,000 and a much better field.
Will gain a lot of betting support for the Bob Baffert-Juan Hernandez trainer-jockey connection alone.
Took six tries to break maiden but has now won in maiden and optional claiming company.
Handlers join the “Happy to Avoid Faiza” sentiment. She took a fourth to Faiza in the Starlet last fall at Los Alamitos. Spit the bit after being forced into a contentious pace.
Has accomplished a bit less than others.
Beaten handily at 3-5 in the $100,000 Providencia Stakes. Could be involved in an early pace tussle with Doinitthehardway. Elements not in her favor.
Won both career starts, both at 7 furlongs. Trainer John Sadler rolls the dice on her stretching out to 1 1/16 miles against a sharp field.
At some point, every potential stalwart must take a step up. Sadler has decided this is that time for Anywho.
Interesting mix. Window Shopping and Tell Me Nolies have the best recent form. The race sets up best for Window Shopping.
Anywho has upside potential. The rest are at least decent.
Bob Baffert at the Belmont Stakes
California’s Hall of Fame trainer is preparing Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure for a run in the June 10 Belmont Stakes, the final jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.
Baffert gained an all-time record eighth Preakness, when National Treasure edged Blazing Sevens over 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico in Baltimore May 20. National Treasure stretches to the championship distance of 1 1/2 miles.
As for the horse’s training regimen, so far, so good.
Baffert sent the 3-year-old up to the Belmont oval to test the surface.
And on Tuesday, the Belmont track and National Treasure passed with flying colors.
John Velazquez, who rode National Treasure in the Preakness, guided him through a half-mile workout of 50.85 seconds according to Daily Racing Form.
As long as his horse comes out of the workouts in good shape, Baffert will enter him in the Belmont.
National Treasure has been coming into his own. Santa Anita bettors saw this first hand when he rallied for fourth in the Santa Anita Derby after a foot injury had pushed his training back. He hit the Preakness in fine form and Baffert hopes to have him peaking for the Belmont.
More Baffert news involves the workout return of highly regarded Arabian Knight after 11 weeks on the sidelines. Arabian Knight won the Southwest Stakes in the winter and was one of the nation’s leading Kentucky Derby hopefuls when he was removed from the trail in March.
Ownership saw something in his training patterns that gave them cause for concern and he was shelved. But he’s back working and California fans may see him on the Del Mar circuit this summer.
Arabian Lion, who won the Sir Barton Stakes at Santa Anita, remains a possible Baffert entry into the Belmont. Stay tuned.
Baffert, Hernandez notch Memorial Day wins
Baffert’s sizzling run continued when Defunded brought him a record ninth Hollywood Gold Cup on Memorial Day.
Bringing Defunded home was Santa Anita’s leading jockey Juan Hernandez, who had a massive day both for his connections and the bettors.
Hernandez had three winners in the last four races. He preceded the victory aboard Defunded with a triumphant ride on Exaulted in the $5000,000 Shoemaker Mile.
And he saved one lucrative bomb for the bettors. Hernandez booted home 13-1 shot Kid Azteca in the final race, sending Pick 6 gamblers into a frenzy.
The longshot victory came in the last event of a mandatory payout day. That’s why 75 winning tickets each produced a whopping $40,920.60.
Racing officials correctly forecast that the stakes-laden Monday card would draw massive betting interest. It did with just shy of $4 million being added on Monday. That’s about a million more than track officials expected.
The Rainbow 6 is a 20-cent minimum wager requiring a bettor to select the winners of the final six races. On most days, a portion of the pot is carried over.
But on mandatory payout day, the pot spilled over.
Yes, the pool is extremely difficult to hit. But for 75 players, one ticket was worth nearly 41 Gs.
For the six-race sequence that spanned races five through 10, the winning numbers and $2 pari-mutuel payouts were as follows:
R5 (Gamely Stakes), #7 Macadamia ($14.40); R6, #2 ($36.60); R7 (Shoemaker Mile), #6 ($8.20); R8 (Hollywood Gold Cup), #4 ($3.20); R9, #8 ($11.60) and R10, #4 ($29.20).
Other Monday highlights
The big wagering pool spiked what would have been a good payout into an extraordinary one in the Shoemaker Mile.
So, after Exaulted became 4-for-4 on the turf and the first stakes winner guaranteed a berth in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Nov. 3-4, the horses underneath provided the big money.
Irideo, the 41-1 longshot, was second. Hong Kong Harry, at 8-5, closed for third and Bellator, 20-1 on the morning line, was fourth.
The $2 exacta paid $238.20, with the $1 trifecta paying $356 and the $2 superfecta returning $17,1096, or $855.30 for the 10-center.
The $12 key to the kingdom
Bettors don’t always have to wager a lot to make a lot.
We often champion the “key entry” method of putting one’s favorite horse in the first and second slots with three others in the $1 trifecta key. It costs $12 and can often pay a bundle, as it did via $318 in the first race on Monday.
The key was even-money favorite Yellow Brick, in a field of eight.
Hey, put him first and second with three horses and you have half the field covered if he runs in the top two slots.
And he did. The ideal sequence happened for key-entry bettors as 21-1 shot Act Three captured the race, Yellow Brick was second and Maltese Falcon up for third at 5-1.
The exacta also paid very well at $143.20.