Friday, February 20, 2009

San Carlos Handicap (G3)

Santa Anita Park
San Carlos H. (G2)
7 Furlongs (All Weather Track) - 4 Year Olds And Up - $150,000

The San Carlos Handicap (G3) drew a contentious field of six. For a sprint, the race has come up short on early speed. This may result in a race where the final quarter is run as fast as the first. Keeping this in mind, because of the small field, we can take a look at how this scenario may play out with each horse.

Star Nicholas drew the rail which has produced 30% of the winners of 7 furlong races at Santa Anita this meet. Unfortunately he does not possess the early speed that would take true advantage of the post position. But, with a preferred late running style and a field of only six, the rail should not compromise his race. He is also an all-weather specialist having cashed a check in 9 of 10 starts on synthetic tracks. The good news stops there. In the San Carlos he will be facing the classiest competition he has yet faced. As with most late running horses he runs best into a hotly contested pace and I don’t think he’ll get that until late when everyone will be finishing. Pass.

I see three very promising signs for Halo Najib. The first is that he ran very well while returning to sprinting in his last race. Since then he has continued to train like a sprinter. His work tab displays some very sharp works. It should also be noted that Bejarano has enough confidence in him that he passed the mount on Past The Point. Halo Najib usually looks to make a late run but won’t make up any ground on the best of these. He was closer than usual in his return race and his works hint at new tactics. So, I won’t be surprised to see him close throughout the running. I don’t usually like a horse second back in sprints, especially one that is not known as a sprinter but he’s showing signs that he’ll improve albeit not enough to win.

Yankee Bravo is the real dark horse in this race. He’s a classy horse that has been away more than nine months. It is a very difficult distance for a return and the field is too talented to expect him to win. I think he’ll need a miracle to win this race. He was, and may continue to be a very nice horse, but I don’t think he’s placed to win this one. Perhaps the connections have something else in mind a little down the road. I’ll pass, but hope he does well.

Past The Point likes to run on the front, that will be a big advantage. He will inherit the lead and if the pace is soft, as noted in the introduction, he should have plenty left to finish. He is cutting back in distance and that extra conditioning will serve him well the last 1/8th. This race will be a handicapper’s favorite; third off a layoff. And, the three works he shows since his last race say he’s still fresh. If the race goes in 46 or slower he’ll be hard, maybe impossible, to catch.

Georgie Boy, the likely favorite, is nine of ten in the money on synthetics. He has won two of three at this distance and three of five at Santa Anita. If that’s not scary enough, he’s also learned to rate. However, he has probably done his best racing while making the pace or sitting just off of it. In my opinion he should revert to that style of running for this race because he is the only horse that can put needed pressure on Past The Point, and still win. If Halo Najib does not change tactics, without Georgie Boy up close Past The Point will find himself comfortably alone on the lead. That will spell disaster for the field. But I think they will continue to try to rate him and that will be his undoing. This will also be his third race back off a layoff. He shows one maintenance drill since his Jan 24th race and that work seemed sub-par. Unless he is up close in this race he is vulnerable.

Mutadda. If Thomas Amoss is shipping a horse across country one should take notice. He’s also been working perfectly up to the race. But, beyond those considerations I don’t find anything to like. Here’s a few of the negatives. A Grade II is a big, difficult step up in class from an overnight stakes at Fairgrounds. Synthetics aren’t a surface he has excelled on. He’s shipping a long distance. And, he’s another horse that wants to run late in a race where all but one horse shows that preference. He’s in over his head. Pass

The Picks:

Win:----Past The Point --Out in front and holds off Georgie Boy by a nose.
Place:--Georgie Boy ------They rate him a little and he comes up a nose short.
Show:--Halo Najib--------I talked myself into it with all the positives.


1-----Star Nicholas-----M. Baze----------114-----12-1
2-----Halo Najib--------R.Bejarano-----114-----5-1
3-----Yankee Bravo-----A. Solis----------116-----15-1
4-----Past The Point----J. Rosario-------115-----4-1
5-----Georgie Boy-------G. Gomez--------120----3-5
6-----Mutadda----------J. Talamo-------115-----6-1


Amateurcapper said...


First off, did you see that DUNKIRK is nominated to the Triple Crown/Kentucky Derby? What do you make of him?

Our friend Georgie Boy returns today. Third race in the cycle, third race w/ front wraps, and his work pattern has me just as alarmed as I was prior to the Malibu S. Only one work since raced, but it was 6f. However, it took Walsh 18 days to work GB after the SunMil Dash but only 11 days after the Malibu. She pumped three works into him in 29 days, including a 1:09 3/5, but only one work in 26 days this time - 6f in 1:14. No proven talents sprinting like BBJ or INTO MISCHIEF, but there is one I believe could be a threat for either the BC Sprint or BC "Dirt" Mile. GB may win if he can repeat his last. However, at even-money or less I'm still gonna try and beat a gelding that's being handled like china compared to his preparation before his last race.

YANKEE BRAVO is the upset special. He had a signature Charlie Whittingham blowout on the 18th, a bullet :33 2/5! Gallagher learned something from Shoe, who learned from Charlie. YB dominated at 5f at two on grass and his two California starts last winter featured blazing final fractions. His breeding screams sprinter/miler as well. Slow pace and Pro ride should enhance his late kick. No way he will be 15-1, but I hope he is! BTW did you notice that his sire is closely related to Tribal Rule, GB's sire? Yankee Gentleman's 2nd dam is Sown, the dam of Tribal Rule. Small breeding world :-).

MUTADDA is 7-4-2-0 since joining Amoss and ships west in winning form. His final 1/4 last out in just over :23 on dirt was spectacular, I'd project that to :22 on Pro-ride which would give YB and GB fits. He's also 2-for-2 at 7f. Anything less than his 6-1 morning line would be an underlay

Your pick PAST THE POINT routes like he wants to sprint and did break maiden at this trip. His two Saratoga routes were among the top five or so going 9f at that meeting, including a tough loss to CURLIN in the G.1 Woodward. I'm a little afraid that the 5y.o. needs things to go perfectly to win, 4-1 is too short for that reason.

HALO NAJIB had his race, finishing 3rd in the G.3 Palos Verdes vs. G.1 winner Johnny Eves and reformed claimer Devoted Magic (missed by a nose yesterday in a N1x allowance). Sprinting is what I've always felt would be his hole card. However, his last race showed that he can't kick home as explosively into a slowish pace as GB or YB can at the top of their game. A minor award appears his ceiling today, and he's too short at 5-1 for me to consider.

STAR NICHOLAS has found a new lease on life since synthetics were mandated in Calif. He was run down by BLUE EXIT last out and that runner subsequently ran 2nd in the G.2 Strub S. He's in fine form and can run on for a minor award at a big price, a top two finish would be a major upest vs. these.

Good luck.

Tony Bada Bing said...

Don't you think that sometimes we just try to outsmart ourselves in picking against a 2-5 favorite, when we should just maybe sit back, watch the race and enjoy a superior horse against an inferior field?

George said...

Tony BB, Ain't that the truth!

Amateurcapper said...

George and Tony,
I'll only pass the race if the favorite looks unbeatable. There were signs I outlined that I thought GEORGIE BOY was. I was wrong.
I've been rewarded enough times with a correct opinion to offset the losses. Take last year's Tampa Bay Derby and War wagers on ATONED (lost by a neck) and show on the field except WAR PASS yielded a tidy sum thanks to a minus show pool!
GEORGIE BOY is a classy dude, no doubt. I don't think he was 100%, that's why I played against him. Oh well, turn the page.
As for ALEX SOLIS, what a terrible ride. European horses need cover. YANKEE BRAVO was settled for the first 1/16 but when Solis kept him in the clear, the full-cup blinkered colt ran off and used his 3/8 mile kick to get to the 1/2 and had nothing left. No wonder Bruce Headley dropped Solis from his rotation.
Perhaps a new rider, blinkers off to get him to settle...

George said...

Amatuercapper I thought I saw enough to make a case against GB. But as TBB said this was one to just sit back and enjoy. Of course while doing a handicappiing piece I think it's the nature of the beast that we all look for scenarios against a favorite if we think we see any flaw in the armor. But if at the track on race day and watching the board and seeing GB I probably would have just watched it. Yes, he is claasy! With the BC at SA we'll never won't get to see how he'd run on dirt at least until next year or maybe never. Too bad. But I think he would be one of those that would be top class running on glass.