Racing at Santa Anita With Marc Doche: A Graded Stakes Trio

Marc DocheCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2011

Thiskyhasnolimit looks for the fourth stakes victory of his career for trainer Steve Asmussen in today's Grade II $150,000 San Fernando.
Thiskyhasnolimit looks for the fourth stakes victory of his career for trainer Steve Asmussen in today's Grade II $150,000 San Fernando.

A three-day holiday weekend of racing action kicks off with three graded stakes races today at The Great Race Place.

Trainer Steve Asmussen sends out the morning line favorite in both the Grade III $100,000 Sham and the Grade II $150,000 San Fernando.

Over two weeks into the meet, the nation’s leading trainer has won just two races, both in front-running fashion on the turf.

The Sham is the first major step through Southern California on the road to the Kentucky Derby, and Tapizar is listed at 8-to-5 in the short field of five.

After three modest performances to start his career, the three-year-old son of Tapit romped home in his last start by over 10 lengths at Churchill Downs in November.

Uncle Sam, Anthony’s Cross and Pride of Silver are all also coming off maiden victories, while Clubhouse Ride is the only two-time winner in the field, having won the Barrett’s Juvenile in September.

With the defection of Sidney’s Candy from the San Fernando, who was scratched yesterday after reportedly coming up a little off in his hind end, Asmussen’s Thiskyhasnolimit takes over favoritism honors at 5-to-2 in what becomes a wide-open race.

The four-year-old son of Sky Mesa is coming off disappointing performances in both the Breeders’ Cup Mile and the Malibu here on opening day.

His off-the-pace style has not been conducive to success over the main track, so it’s likely jockey Garret Gomez will make sure he doesn’t get too far behind early. Another potential cause for concern is the three abbreviated four-furlong works since the Malibu.

Three-year-old fillies sprint seven furlongs in the Grade II $150,000 Santa Ynez and Zazu, who was scratched out of last weekend’s Grade III Santa Ysabel, was installed as the 2-to-1 favorite for trainer John Sadler off a pair of decent efforts behind Turbulent Descent, who is currently the leader of the division.

We’re off to the races!

Best Bet of the Day (ROI based off $2 WPS bet)

Race 4 - #3 Irridescent Red (5/2 ML) – That was a better than usual non-winners of two fields that she beat in her last and she’s finished first or second in six of 14 lifetime starts.

Her front-running style should suit her on the move to dirt, and Joel Rosario rides for the third straight time since she moved to Jack Carava’s barn.

Yesterday’s Result – Off the board with Devil’s Choir (-$6.00)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (-$34.90)

Late Pick 4

Leg 1 – Race 6 (1,2,4) – We’ll play against Zazu in the Santa Ynez and go three deep.

No. 1 California Nectar won impressively here at the distance two weeks ago.

No. 2 Star Presence, the first of two trained by Bob Baffert, broke through in a big way in her first start over this track after three second-place finishes.

No. 4 Plum Pretty, the other Baffert may be the quickest early, even with blinkers off.

Leg 2 – Race 7 (1,3,4,5,7,11) – Six and a half furlongs down the hillside turf course for older allowance optional claiming company and we go six deep.

Leg 3 - Race 8 (1,2,6,7) – We’ll use favored No. 6 Thiskyhasnolimit, who has bounced back before off a pair of bad efforts and is the most accomplished runner in the field.

No. 1 Tweebster is looking for his fourth straight win and has finished in the money in nine of ten career starts for Baffert.

No. 2 Paris Vegas has bounced back with solid performance each of the last four times he ran poorly; he looks much better in the morning than he did going into the Malibu.

No. 7 Indian Firewater, again the other Baffert, could be the quickest early after chasing Sidney’s Candy in the Sir Beaufort on opening day. He’s had a touch of seconditis, but today could be his breakthrough performance.

Leg 4 – Race 9 (4,5,7) – Three-year-old maidens sprint five and a half furlongs to close the day and we go three deep.

No. 4 Ultimate Question ran a decent third in his first off the layoff here on opening day and also has two second place finishes to his credit. The weight break with the bug aboard could put him over the edge and into the winner’s circle.

No. 5 Brereton Park debuts for Gary Sherlock, who has had success with first-time starters and with Rosario aboard.

No. 7 Cabo San Lucas wheels back in a week and is back with his friends after getting swallowed up by allowance company in his last. He’s quick early and can stick late if he has anything left.

Recap – (1,2,4) w (1,3,4,5,7,11) w (1,2,6,7) w (4,5,7) – Total cost of ticket = $108

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @mdoche for last minute changes caused by scratches and much more!

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Good luck!

Yesterday’s Result – (NA)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (+$3,934.70)

Total for 2010 Del Mar meet – (-$554.55)