Racing at Santa Anita With Marc Doche: The Grade II Palos Verdes

Marc DocheCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2011

Smiling Tiger is the even-money favorite in today's Grade II $150,000 Palos Verdes.
Smiling Tiger is the even-money favorite in today's Grade II $150,000 Palos Verdes.

The top sprinters on the West Coast highlight Saturday’s nine-race card at Santa Anita in the Grade II $150,000 Palos Verdes going six furlongs on the main track.

Breaking Spectacular Bid’s track record at seven furlongs in his last start wasn’t enough to get Smiling Tiger the win in the opening day Grade I Malibu, as he came up a nose short to Twirling Candy. The final time of 1:19.70 eclipsed the mark of 1:20.0 that had stood for 30 years.

Prior to that start, Smiling Tiger finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs in November.

The two-time Grade I winning son of Hold That Tiger is listed as the even-money favorite for his debut as a four-year-old today and will again be ridden by Northern California-based rider Russell Baze, who holds the record for most wins in a career.

His challengers include a pair from leading trainer Bob Baffert’s barn, both coming off extended layoffs with sizzling work tabs.

After coming up just half a length short in this race last year, Ventana went on to finish second in the Grade II San Carlos before winning the Grade II Portrero Grande. The meet’s leading rider, Rafael Bejarano, climbs aboard the five-year-old son of Toccet, who is the 4-to-1 second choice.

The “other” Baffert is Eurorears, who makes his first start for his new barn after winning 8-of-16 on the other side of the country for Bret Calhoun. Ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, the seven-year-old son of Langfuhr is a big price at 8-to-1 in his quest to capture the first graded stake of his career.

The $75,000 Sweet Life Stakes for three-year-old fillies sprinting six and a half furlongs down the hillside turf course is the co-feature.

Off a pair of third place finishes in stakes races in her only two starts in the U.S., Cloneylass was made the 3-to-1 morning-line favorite for trainer Jamie Lloyd and jockey Corey Nakatani.

The only filly with experience over this layout is Peter Miller’s Advantage Player, who broke her maiden in wire-to-wire fashion here nine days ago at 21-to-1 under Nakatani. Joel Rosario takes over today and she is listed at 6-to-1.

Again, we look to the early Pick 4 sequence for today’s play and …

We’re off to the races!

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

Race 3 - #9 Zees Chris (7/2 ML) – This three-year-old daughter of Sir Shackleton dueled through fast fractions here three weeks ago and held on to finish third for the second time to start her career. She should be able to clear this field with under-rated jockey Jose Verenzuela in the irons.

Yesterday’s Result – Late scratch of Raebella (NA)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (-$21.30)

Early Pick 4

Leg 1 – Race 1 (5,6,7) – Three-year-old maidens go a mile on the main track for a $30,000 tag and we’ll use the logical three horses.

Leg 2 – Race 2 (1,2,3,6) – Six and a half furlongs on the main track for $8,000 claimers and we go four deep.

The entry of No. 1 Island Run and No. 1A Waafi for trainer Jack Carava both pack a late punch.

No. 2 Dee Dee’s Legacy will also be running late and can save more ground today after being hung wide in his last after breaking from the outside.

No. 3 Nitro Active adds blinkers and is the best of the horses that are likely to be forwardly placed.

No. 6 Capt. Sparrow will come from of the pace as well, but will be much closer early today than he was in his last when he broke poorly.

Leg 3 - Race 3 (3,7,8,9) – Along with our best bet No. 9 Zees Chris, we’ll use No. 3 Alala, who’s sire Salt Lake can drop babies that win early, No. 7 Warren’s Peacock, who’s trainer Clifford Sise is hitting with 18% of his first-time starters, and No. 8 Coy Princess, who is the only one dropping out of allowance company.

Leg 4 – Race 4 (1,6,11) – Down the hill in this maiden special weight affair for California-breds and we go three deep.

No. 1 The Unusual One just missed in his first start over this layout nine days ago and will be forwardly placed again.

No. 6 Excusemecomingthru returns after a year off and moves to Doug O’Neill’s barn. He’s finished second twice in three starts, including going a mile on this turf course.

No. 11 Crispy Corey will also be near the front early and can improve in his second start off the layoff.

Recap – (5,6,7) w (1,2,3,6) w (3,7,8,9) w (1,6,11) – Total cost of ticket = $72

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 – (-$60)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (+$3,787.60)

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