TimeformUS Weekend Stakes Plays - The Californian and The American Oaks

Santa Anita, Race 7
The Californian
By Justin Finch

The Grade 2 Californian has attracted a field of eight horses to run nine furlongs on the Santa Anita main track for a purse of $200,000.

According to the TFUS Pace Projector, Fury Kapcori (#2, 4-5 Morning Line) will be on a clear lead at the opening half-mile, with Storm Fighter (#6, 4-1) a stalking second. Then it's a good distance back to Handsome Mike (#5, 12-1) in third, followed by Fly Lexis Fly (#8, 20-1) and the others.

This raises an interesting question. The two favorites on the morning line, arguably the two most talented horses in the race, Fury Kapcori and Storm Fighter, both have frontrunning styles. Fury Kapcori has either led or been within a head of the lead at the first call in six of his last 10 starts, while Storm Fighter has won his last two races wire to wire. Will Storm Fighter accept a stalking position today? His trainer, the venerable Bruce Headley, has been saying that his colt would be comfortable sitting second or third early, and this post draw, to the outside of Fury Kapcori, would certainly be conducive to an outside stalking trip. Moreover, Storm Fighter broke his maiden in a race in which he stalked the pace for half a mile before being turned loose. But if Storm Fighter feels like busting out of the gate today, an interesting, heavyweight speed duel could result, which might set this race up to be won by an off-pace horse who lacks the talent of either of the two frontrunners.
In the absence of such a speed duel, Fury Kapcori seems likely to win this race, and at a short price. He has run off four victories in a row. His speed figures have ranged from 110-114, numbers that are stronger than anything the competition has run recently. He decimated a Grade 3 field in his most recent race. He can win from on the lead or just off the pace. He has even survived his share of speed duels in the past.
Back in California and drawn well in post one, Clubhouse Ride (#1, 9-2) may be the horse who benefits most from a speed duel. He has strong speed figures from last year to try to get back to, and a solid Late Pace rating of 95.



Santa Anita, Race 8
The American Oaks
By Jason Perlmutter

With the exception of short rest, we see no good reason why Tiz the Key (#6, 12-1 ML) won't run well in Saturday's Grade 1 American Oaks.  At anything close to the morning line, Tiz the Key is our key.    

Although Tiz the Key never quite put it together as a two-year-old, she ran several creditable races. Following a short trip to pasture, where she likely enjoyed the mild, gentle Southern California winter, Tiz the Key has begun to fulfill her potential. She began her three-year-old season by crushing a group of maidens. Then, in her last start 13 days ago, she validated her quality by dominating the tempo in a 10-furlong turf allowance. Now trainer Richard Mandella brings her back on short rest and steps her up in class.  Her two most recent speed figures, in the low 90s, make her competitive in this spot, especially when one considers the Pace Projector, which has this gal dictating a moderate tempo on the front end. 


Can she kick with this crew when the money is on the line? We are going to find out today, but her pedigree is dazzling (Tiznow) and formidable (AP Indy) when it comes to staying a route of ground.   The closest chaser, Loan Savant, has very little chance.  Tiz the Key is a lightly raced filly going in the right direction, and we aren't necessarily convinced the short rest will lead to the dreaded bounce.

Little Journey (#3, 6-1 ML) ran a solid race in her US debut on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. She posted a 94 speed figure, which makes her a prime contender, and the Pace Projector puts her in a favorable stalking position.  The Edgewood was 3/16ths of a mile shorter than today's race, and Good Journey was only beginning to find her best stride at the end of the race.  She's a must-use.

It wouldn't necessarily surprise us if any of the morning line favorites ran well in here, but none of them appears particularly strong, though morning line favorite Nashoba's Gold (#2, 9-5) poses a bit of a dilemma for the upset-minded among us, as she has posted an outstanding 4-3-1-0 record, and her speed figures certainly make her a prime contender. We recommend you factor her in, but we will play her to be over-bet and hope she is ready to take a step back in her first try at the distance. 

The play:
Tiz the Key to win at 8-1 or higher. Use Tiz the Key and Little Journey in multi-race wagers.  Exacta box of Tiz the Key and Little Journey.  Trifecta part-wheel rotating Tiz the Key and Little Journey in two of the three slots with the ALL button in the open position. 

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