Racing at Santa Anita With Marc Doche: Sunshine Millions Day

Marc DocheCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2011

Evening Jewel, picutred on the right finishing 2nd in last year's Kentucky Oaks, looks to make amends for disappointing in her last three in today's $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff.
Evening Jewel, picutred on the right finishing 2nd in last year's Kentucky Oaks, looks to make amends for disappointing in her last three in today's $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

There couldn’t be a more fitting name to celebrate another picture perfect Southern California afternoon. Today’s ten-race card at Santa Anita featuring three of the six stakes races for California and Florida-breds run as part of Sunshine Millions Day will bring out one of the largest crowds of the meet and a festive atmosphere for a great day of racing.

After finishing first or second in 11 straight starts, including seven graded stakes races, Evening Jewel has disappointed in her last three with a pair of third place finishes and a fifth place finish in the Grade III Monrovia here on January 2.

Nevertheless, the four-year-old daughter of Northern Afleet is the 5-to-2 morning line favorite in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff run over a mile and a sixteenth on the main track. She has already earned over $1 million in her career for trainer Jim Cassidy and the ability to win from off the pace will work to her advantage in today’s race that is loaded with early speed.

If Evening Jewel is indeed spent after a grueling nine-race campaign in 2010, Ultra Blend is another candidate to mow them all down late. The five-year-old daughter of Richly Blended has finished in the money in 15-of-17 lifetime starts, including a pair of stakes victories at Hollywood Park in her last two.

Question marks surround the 5-to-2 favorite in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf as well. Also trained by Cassidy, The Usual Q.T. is coming off a disappointing third place effort in the Grade II San Gabriel here last month.  The five-year-old son of Unusual Heat may not have liked the moisture in the surface in his last, but reports are he hasn’t been his best in the mornings since.

The 3-to-1 second choice Jeranimo, who has won clear in his first two starts on the lawn including a resounding win in the aforementioned San Gabriel, is a budding superstar and the most likely winner of the Turf. The five-year-old son of Congaree trained by Michael Pender comes with his closing kick no matter the early pace scenario, but there is plenty of speed signed up today.

The shortest price on today’s card is likely to come in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint, where Cost of Freedom is listed as the even-money favorite off a trio of smashing wire to wire victories at Hollywood Park. We’ll be on track record alert if the eight-year-old son of Cee’s Tizzy trained by John Sadler is at his best in his first start over Santa Anita’s lightning fast dirt and can once again clear off to an easy early lead.

The three other Sunshine Millions races will be run across the country at Gulfstream Park in South Florida.

First Dude, still looking for the second victory of his career, is the 5-to-2 favorite in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, Dynaslew is the 7-to-2 favorite in a wide-open $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, and Amen Hallelujah is the 3-to-1 favorite in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint.

We’re off to the races!

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

Race 6 - #3 Jeranimo (3/1 ML) – We’ve already praised him above and we’ll feel lucky if we get anywhere near 3-to-1.

Yesterday’s Result – Off the board with Summer Games (-$6.00)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (-$39.50)

Late Pick 4

Leg 1 – Race 7 (6,7,9) – Along with the two mentioned above, we’ll also use No. 6 All Due Respect, who makes the first start of her four-year-old season and has shown the ability to be brilliant from on or just off the pace.

Leg 2 – Race 8 (4,6,8) – Down the hillside turf course with older males in this first-level allowance event and we’ll go three deep.

No. 4 Ace of Aces had to have needed his last after being away for eight months and has come back with a pair of sharp works over the turf.

No.6 Pack Your Bags missed by just a neck on this layout in his last and will once again get a contested pace up front to set up his late run.

No. 8 Domonation returns off a five-month break with a solid work tab and is another late runner. He faced some of the top horses in his division in both his two and three-year old seasons and was a game second in his career debut.

Leg 3 - Race 9 (2,4,5,7) – Older females sprint six and a half furlongs in this allowance optional claiming event and we go four deep.

No. 2 Word Association won clear twice at Hollywood Park before finishing second to Ultra Blend in the Cat’s Cradle Handicap. She’s a perfect 3-for-3 at today’s distance and has proven the ability to fire fresh.

No. 4 Hot Affair has a win and four seconds in five career starts and ran a career best in her first start over this dirt in her last.

No. 5 Pink Blossom returns off a long layoff without missing a beat in the mornings and could be the quickest early for the ice cold Bruce Headley.

No. 7 Hopeful Union also returns off a long layoff after a win and a second in just two career starts.

Leg 4 – Race 10 (3,4,5,10) – Down the hill again with older males, this time running for a $32,000 tag, and we use four more.

No. 3 Stoneside finished second or third in 7-of-9 starts in 2010 and can win for the first time in ages as he drops to the lowest level of his career today.

No. 4 Dapper Gene has been popular at the claim box and starts for the fourth different barn in the last four months. He should move up under the care of Mike Mitchell.

No. 5 A Lil Dumaani is a hard-knocker who finished in the money in all eight starts of 2010 with one win and worked a bullet since a nice third over this layout in his last.

No. 10 Moudez is obviously not the same horse he was in 2007, but he did come back with a first and a second in three starts in 2010. He can mow them down from off the pace also dropping to the lowest level of his career.

Recap – (6,7,9) w (4,6,8) w (2,4,5,7) w (3,4,5,10) – Total cost of ticket = $72

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

To view my horse racing channel on YouTube click here!

Good luck!

Yesterday’s Result – (-$30.30)

Total for 2010-11 Santa Anita meet – (+$3,571.30)

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