Racing at Santa Anita With Marc Doche: Star-Studded Comebackers

Marc DocheCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2011

Game On Dude, pictured finishing fourth in last year's Belmont Stakes, makes his return today in an allowance optional claiming event at Santa Anita.
Game On Dude, pictured finishing fourth in last year's Belmont Stakes, makes his return today in an allowance optional claiming event at Santa Anita.Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

An otherwise mundane eight-race Thursday card gets spiced up with some classy stakes horses making their return to the track.

The seventh race features allowance optional claiming company going a mile and a sixteenth on the main track and Bob Baffert’s Game On Dude, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Grade I Belmont Stakes last year, is your 8-to-5 favorite in the field of seven. The four-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again had previously won the Grade III Lone Star Derby by four and a half lengths.

Another allowance optional claiming event in race four sees another returning Baffert, this time 2-to-1 choice Mythical Power, who won the Lone Star Derby two years ago by over seven lengths and followed that up by winning the Grade III Texas Mile last year. He was also last seen at Belmont Park, finishing far back in the Grade II Kelso in August after having finished second in the Grade I Woodward at Saratoga.

Also returning in today’s fourth race off just a pair of disappointing efforts in 2010 for John Sadler is 3-to-1 third choice Noble Court, who won the Grade III Ack Ack in 2009 before running third in the Grade I Triple Bend and second in the Grade I Pat O’Brien.

Kelly Leak is winless in eight starts since capturing the $900,000 Sunland Derby in 2009 for trainer Michael Machowsky, and is the second longest shot in the field today at 6-to-1.

Don’t forget this Saturday is Sunshine Millions Day, with the six stakes races for California and Florida-breds being split between Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park.

In addition, Santa Anita will host a Food Truck Festival in the infield featuring gourmet food, wine and beer. For more information, visit Santa Anita’s events page.

We’re off to the races!

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

Race 4 - #3 Red Door Drive (5/2 ML) – The “other” Baffert should strike again if he’s allowed to control the pace early, cutting back to today’s seven furlong distance after finishing fourth going a mile and a sixteenth in the Grade II San Pasqual three weeks ago.

The only other potential early speed comes from Red Eye Express to the far outside, but his early foot in the U.S. has come strictly in route races. He did break his maiden on the lead in his debut going seven furlongs in Ireland back in 2007.

Sunday’s Result – Off the board with Dave’s Pacemaker (-$6.00)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (-$33.30)

Late Pick 4

Leg 1 - Race 5 (4) – We’ll try our luck again with Super Harmony in this $10,000 claiming event. He keyed a big score for us with his wire to wire victory two weeks ago and finds himself in another paceless race with a sixteenth of a mile less to get at today’s mile distance.

Leg 2 - Race 6 (3,4,5,6,7) – Older fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this $20,000 maiden claiming affair and we go four deep.

No. 3 Guilded Reward returns after a brief freshening with four works and can show some early speed. She started her career in two allowance events before finishing third when dropped in for a tag for the first time.

No. 5 Jordanelle is a six-year-old maiden with just two starts to her credit, but she has looked decent in the morning for her first start since last March. It will be interesting to see Chantal Sutherland wearing the silks of Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Moss aboard this daughter of Johannesburg who sold for $300,000 at Keeneland back in 2006.

No. 6 Once in Awhile is a five-year-old with just one start to her credit, but she shows a consistent work tab for her drop into claiming company.

No. 4 Nip of Gold and No. 7 Miss Bold Topper finished third and fourth respectively over this track two weeks ago, which gives them the recent edge over many of these.

Leg 3 - Race 7 (2,3,4,7) – Along with No. 4 Game On Dude, we’ll again use the “other” Baffert with No. 3 El Martillo. He’ll be ridden by Martin Garcia, who makes his return after being in Mexico for the past two months getting work visa issues resolved.

No. 2 Sundarban returns to the dirt, where he’s finished first or second in six of seven, after a disappointing turf try here three weeks ago.

No. 7 When We Met is as consistent as they come, which always makes him dangerous should things go his way.

Leg 4 - Race 8 (1,4,6,8,9) – Newly turned three-year-old fillies close the day sprinting five and a half furlongs on the main track for a $16,000 tag and we go five deep.

Recap - (4) w (3,4,5,6,7) w (2,3,4,7) w (1,4,6,8,9) – Total cost of ticket = $50

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

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Good luck!

Sunday’s Result – (-$54)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (+$3,661.60)

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