There is no doubting the star of this weekend’s cards is Santa Anita with two Grade 1s at the end of the card in the Triple Bend Stakes and the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes.
In the seven furlong Triple Bend Stakes, Kobe’s back will be making his seventh attempt to win a Grade 1. He has a certain racing style that is great box office but will always put his backers’ nerves to the test as he normally starts slowly and then finishes fast and late.
His lack of Grade 1 success would normally be of concern but the fact is that his rivals are in the same boat. The race should be run to suit as there should be plenty of pace on, not least from the very quick Subtle Indian.
The Morning Line makes the Gold Cup an open race with 3/1 favoritism going the way of Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity. Hoppertunity ran a cracker in the Dubai World Cup when a four length third to the sublime California Chrome.
He has been off since then but pleased his trainer in a recent workout so the entry in this valuable race was confirmed. Not only is the $500k purse a big draw, the winner gets a free entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.
This looks a really mouthwatering race as Hoppertunity (if he runs) will have plenty of opposition particularly if he is a little ring-rusty after his lay-off. The opposition includes Melatonin whose last two runs have seen a win in the Santa Anita handicap and a second to Effinex and Second Summer, who is improving with every race and looks as though he will really appreciate this trip. Definitely a race to watch and enjoy!
The final race for review this weekend is the Ohio Derby, a listed race at Thistledown worth a cool $500k. The Morning Line favourite is Mo Tom at 5/2. He has some top form to his name and ran creditably in the Kentucky Derby but his deep closing running style sees him get into all sorts of trouble on a far too regular basis. He is a classy horse but his odds will be cramped for a horse than doesn’t win often enough so I will be looking elsewhere.
If his Morning Line odds of 12/1 hold up, Decorated Soldier looks very good value. Representing the great Todd Pletcher, he has recorded some decent Beyers recently with similar numbers to those of the favourite. With a win in the Northern Spur last time out, he looks in very good form.