Countdown to the Cup: Friday Longshots

JUVENILE SPRINT – Merit Man, undefeated winner of the Tim Conway Stakes has the speed, the numbers, and a win over the track, and should be the horse to beat. Bob Baffert is always tough, so you have to give Super Ninety Nine a shot. South Floyd, runner-up in the Tim Conway, has the early speed and is from the dangerous Doug O’Neill barn.

But there are two price horses worth considering. European invader Ceiling Kitty didn’t fare too well in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, but ran a bang-up race three back to win the group I, five-furlong Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. She also has a maiden score over the synthetic track at Kempton. Her sire is by Red Ransom and her dam is by Tale of the Cat, so there no reason why she shouldn’t handle the dirt.

Another interesting filly is the grade I Spinaway runner-up Sweet Shirley Mae, who broke her maiden going five furlongs in the slop. She’s been on the lead at five furlongs and came from 15 lengths back in the Spinaway. She’ll need more speed backing up to six furlongs, but has class and trainer Wesley Ward is always dangerous with 2-year-old sprinters.

MARATHON – This is a total crap shoot and could be a playground for Fame and Glory, winner of last year’s Ascot Gold Cup and the 2009 Irish Derby. Although he hasn’t been in form recently, the word is that Ballydoyle is very confident he’s going to run a big race. Local horse Worth Repeating looks solid, but should be bet and we’re looking for bigger price horses.

This is where South American-breds shine. Argentinian invader Calidoscopio is a 9-year-old sired by a son of Forty Niner who is making his 40th start, 27 of which he carried 130 pounds or more, including two races carrying 137 and two carrying 136. He’s finished in the money 22 times. He’s already won at 1 7/8 miles and definitely must be respected.

Almudena has run big in group I company in Argentina and Peru and handles dirt and grass with equal ability. She’ll get the distance and is coming off group I placings carrying 132 and 130 pounds in Argentina. She should be tough in here.

Another Argentinian-bred is Romp, making his 54th start, all in the U.S. He’s only won four times, so you have to be a little suspect of him.

Our good old fashioned American longshot is Grassy, who is a proven mile and a half horse and a consistent grade I and II horse. He’s never run on dirt, but his sire, El Prado, is known for siring horses who can run on both dirt and grass at the highest level. If he handles the dirt he has the ability to mow these horses down in the stretch.

FILLY & MARE JUVENILE TURF – Although she’s going to be one of the favorites, we love Spring Venture and feel as if she could be special, with her perfect three-for-three record and scintillating turn of foot.

Sky Lantern, Watsdachances, and Flashy Ways all look strong in here, but will be bet pretty heavily.

Looking for a few fillies to play with Spring Venture in this extremely contentious field, Miss Grillo runner-up Sustained has been training brilliantly and has made a terrific appearance in the morning. But she did not draw well in post 14.

We have a sneaky suspicion the Todd Pletcher-trained Tara From the Cape is going to run a big race, based on her two turf races, a solid half-mile turf work at Santa Anita, and her excellent tactical speed. And John Velazquez certainly doesn’t hurt. She could be a live longshot.

JUVENILE FILLIES – The favorites in this race simply look too strong to play against. Renee’s Queen at 30-1 and has never run on dirt, but is coming off a very sharp six-furlong work over the dirt track and her connections chose this spot over the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Spring in the Air at 15-1 also has never run on dirt, but all four of her starts, on Polytrack and grass, have been excellent, and she looked good winning the Alcibiades Stakes. Trainer Mark Casse, who also has Spring Venture, has been red-hot lately.

FILLY & MARE TURF – American-trained longshots have won this race the last two years, and this year’s renewal is very wide open. The Euros are particularly strong, with the top-class The Fugue, Nahrain, I’m A Dreamer, and Ridasiyna, as well as the Aidan O’Brien-trained Up. Zagora looks solid for the home team, and is attractive at 8-1.

Star Billing, at 30-1, returns to the turf, where she has won or placed in three grade I stakes for John Shirreffs. The daughter of Dynaformer could pick up a piece of it with the right pace scenario.

Marketing Mix is only 9-2 on the morning line, but if she runs back to her last race, the Rodeo Drive, in which she made a spectacular move on the far turn, she is going to be tough.

LADIES CLASSIC – Hmm, take your pick. There are so many top-class fillies in here, the fifth choice is a filly who is coming off back-to-back grade I victories. We’re not even going attempt to pick a longshot. Of the Fab Four – Royal Delta, Awesome Feather, My Miss Aurelia, and Questing – not many people are talking about Questing, despite her other worldly victory in the Alabama Stakes, earning a 106 Beyer figure. Yes, she was beaten a head by My Miss Aurelia in the Cotillion Stakes, but she disliked the deep, slow track, was dropping back in distance from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/16 miles, and was conceding seven pounds to My Miss Aurelia. She has a tendency to run greenly, but has a tremendous amount of talent and raw speed, and could be a little bit of an overlay in here.


All Photos by Steve Haskin.

A morning with Mucho Macho Man -- Waiting his turn with Kathy Ritvo

Mucho Macho Man glides over the track

Mucho Macho Man loves the camera

Macho Man a photographer's delight

Macho Man checks out the backstretch tour tram

Fans get an extra added treat on their tour

Mucho Macho Man gets his pre-race vet exam

 Merit Man could be the favorite in the BC Juvenile Sprint

Watsdachances (outside) and Richard's Kid hook up

Maryland Million Classic winner Not Abroad goes in the Marathon

Juvenile Fillies Turf hopeful Flashy Ways

Hard to believe Pool Play is a 7-year-old battle veteran

Paul Reddams Turf hopeful Cogito

Dondonnell is the top European hope for the BC Juvenile Turf

Watch out for Brown Almighty in the Juvenile Turf

Groupie Doll gets a bath following her gallop.


Forever a part of Santa Anita history



Leave a Comment:


There will be longshots just like there are in Friday and Saturday racing cards every week of the year.The betting pools and field size is what makes these Friday and Saturday cards great betting propositions without even writing about all the graded stakes winners competing in all those races 17 is what I counted at the same track for two consecutive days.Whatever manner you choose to make your picks there will be high class horses of both sexes and young and old that will be going off at higher prices than they normaly would when competing on a Friday and Saturaday card.But the big score pools arent win place or show for the most part, it is the exotics and the best paying exotics will be very difficult to come up with using past performances.The easiest way to hit these monster exotic bets is by hitting the ALL button and the betting synicates are the ones that hit these buttons the most compared to the average player.The rest of us will need to know how to bet most of all, and a lot of luck.

01 Nov 2012 7:39 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Some good looking horses out there judging from these photos. Longshots galore coming up. One thing is certain- It will be exciting. Well, two things are certain, lots of big payouts too. Have fun !!!!! And Good Luck.

01 Nov 2012 9:17 PM
Sam Santschi

Thanks Steve for the MMM photos!

01 Nov 2012 9:35 PM
Ted from LA

I have to vote with the Chief.  SHOW her that you can do it, Chief.

01 Nov 2012 9:40 PM

Thanks for the beautiful pictures of Mucho Macho Man. What a job the Ritvos have done with him.  When he's on his game, he looks otherworldly as he just glides etherally down the track. I saw him being schooled in the paddock and showring at Gulfstream and it took two grooms to try to hold them down with all of their might and Cathy Ritvo was right there with them.

He gets regular massage therapy along with aromatherapy to prevent injuries and to keep him calm.

With his post position, we might get to see something special in the Classic.

Thanks again.

02 Nov 2012 7:34 AM

Good luck Ted from LA.

02 Nov 2012 8:28 AM
steve from st louis

I studied for hours last night, made my pics, circling my final choices in each race and then I toss each and every one and then box 1-6 and 2-4 for each Cup race.

When each race dopes out like the Kentucky Derby, my handicapped picks have as much chance as Pletcher at Churchill and I used to litter the floor at my OTB site. Now, I cash a big exacta every once in a while and even I can't possibly explain how I came up with that winning ticket. I look like a smart guy every once in a while instead of a fool most of the time. Pathetic but true.

02 Nov 2012 11:24 AM

Thanks for the photos of Mucho  Macho Man & the others. I wish there were some of my Favorites, AWESOME FEATHER and SHACKLEFORD.

02 Nov 2012 11:32 AM

Great photos! They are all so beautiful and precious - wish they could all win.

02 Nov 2012 2:58 PM

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