Racing at Santa Anita With Marc Doche: Grade II San Marcos on MLK Day

Marc DocheCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2011

Champ Pegaus returns after a brief break since his second place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf in November.
Champ Pegaus returns after a brief break since his second place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf in November.

A five-day week of racing culminates with a holiday special on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a stacked nine-race card featuring a pair of stakes races.

Off his second place finish in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in November, Champ Pegasus is the 5-to-2 morning line favorite in the Grade II $150,000 San Marcos against a full field of 11 going a mile and a quarter on the turf. The five-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus has finished first or second in six straight and will push his career earnings just short of $1 million with a win today.

The second choice at 3-to-1 is Bourbon Bay, who is a perfect 4-for-4 on Santa Anita’s lawn and swept three Grade II races here last year. His only race since was the Grade I Clement Hirsch at Hollywood Park in October, where his five-race winning streak was snapped by Champ Pegasus in a third place finish.

The under card sees seven three-year-olds sprint six and a half furlongs in the $75,000 San Pedro Stakes and Sinai was installed as the 5-to-2 favorite off an impressive maiden victory at Hollywood Park for the smoking hot duo of Bob Baffert and Rafael Bejarano.

Any of the seven runners can win and we’ll use a pair of long shots along with the favorite in our Pick 4 ticket below.

We also welcome back Christian Santiago Reyes, the Eclipse-award winning apprentice jockey of 2009, who returns with a pair of mounts after serving a lengthy suspension for multiple infractions committed last year.

We’re off to the races!

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

Race 5 - #1 Warren’s Knockout (9/2 ML) – He faded badly after chasing The Factor in his debut, but bounced back with a good looking five furlong work. High-riding Patrick Valenzuela takes over and will surely have him gunning from the gate with the inside post. The five and a half furlong distance will work to his advantage as well.

Yesterday’s Result – Settled for place pay with Calle Vista (-$.60)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (-$30.30)

Late Pick 4

Leg 1 – Race 6 (1,3,4,5,6,7) – A contentious field of eight males roll down the hillside turf course to kick off the sequence in this starter allowance affair and we’ll use six of the participants.

Leg 2 – Race 7 (1,3,4) – Along with Sinai, we’ll use a pair of closers at nice prices in a race that appears to have lots of early speed on paper. Although there is a clear speed bias over the dirt, closers have had some success, particularly in sprints.

No. 1 Industry Leader was highly regarded for trainer Kristin Mulhall after his maiden victory and has trained beautifully here in the morning. He returns to sprinting after a disappointing effort in the Grade I Cash Call Futurity.

No. 4 Indian Winter hasn’t been seen since chasing a couple nice dudes in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity in September, and he too has looked super in the morning for his return.

Leg 3 - Race 8 (6,9,11) – We’ll again throw a long shot in with the two favorites in today’s feature, using No. 9 Expansion for trainer Steve Asmussen. He went toe to toe with the best turf horses on the East Coast last year and can build off his fourth place performance in the Grade II San Gabriel here three weeks ago.

Leg 4 – Race 9 (1,4,5,9,11) – Older males who have never won two races sprint five and a half furlongs to close the week and we’ll go five deep in a wide open affair.

Recap – (1,3,4,5,6,7) w (1,3,4) w (6,9,11) w (1,4,5,9,11) – Total cost of ticket = $135

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 – (-$40)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (+$3,786.70)

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