Saturday's $150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita has all of the earmarks of a springboard race for grass stakes later in the year at longer distances.
Several of the eight entrants are better traveling farther than the Arcadia's 1 1/8-mile route. And none of the starters are coming off of a win.
As a result, leading indicators point to Soud, the Neil Drysdale-trained 6-year-old who has come into his own in the past year while facing softer company. He was second by a length in his last start as the 17-10 favorite in the March 14 Golden Gate Breeeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) in Northern California. He has the type of speed that could be dangerous.
Minor stakes winner Seinne, the Chilean bred who captured the February 2003 Tanforan Handicap at Golden Gate Fields, also figures to draw attention.
Top weighted at 118 pounds in the Arcadia, Ballingarry, who won the Canadian International (Can-I) at Woodbine in 2002, would seem to be using the Arcadia as a prep for perhaps the San Juan Capistrano (gr. IT) later this month at Santa Anita. The longer distance of the about 1 3/4-mile San Juan would also seem to fit the styles of Diplomatic Bag, Gigli and Researched.
Toccet takes another shot at the Santa Anita turf. He's making his sixth stakes appearance at the winter meeting but has a 10-race losing streak. Another in need of a win is Statement, who has lost five in a row.
The Ben Cecil-trained Researched shortens up in the Arcadia after finishing eighth in the 12-furlong San Luis Obispo (gr. IIT) in February.
He could be looking for a tune-up for Cecil, who won last year's San Juan Capistrano with Passinetti.
Diplomatic Bag and Gigli, both stakes winners but at longer trips, start for trainer Bobby Frankel. Diplomatic Bag, who won in France, make shis first start since October. Gigli, a group I winner in Brazil, makes his initial start for Frankel.$150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT), 4 & up, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Toccet (KY), 112, David C. Nuesch
2. Statement (NY), 114, Javier Santiago
3. Gigli (BRZ), 115, Corey S. Nakatani
4. Seinne (CHI), 115, Victor Espinoza
5. Researched (IRE), 115, Emile Ramsammy
6. Diplomatic Bag (KY), 112, David R. Flores
7. Ballingarry (IRE), 118, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
8. Soud (KY), 116, Tyler Baze