SANTA ANITA NOTEBOOK

OCTOBER 11, 2012

by John Mucciolo

A pair of graded races headlined the second weekend of racing at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita Sprint Championship S. (G1): Watson, Weitman and Pegram's COIL (Point Given) made a big move approaching the top of the lane, and held off a game rally from stablemate Capital Account (Closing Argument) to bag this race for conditioner Bob Baffert. The talented four-year-old was a head clear under the wire, completing the six panels in 1:09 4/5 under Martin Garcia, and established himself as a top contender for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Arroyo Seco Mile S. (G2): Fanticola and Scardino's OBVIOUSLY (Choisir) ran off to his third straight finale tally since stretching out to a mile with a front-running, half-length win beneath Joe Talamo. The Mike Mitchell trainee endured one mile on the firm turf in a stakes record 1:31 4/5. The Breeders' Cup Mile is next.

Track Stats

From a total of 46 races held at the Arcadia, California, racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 24 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 50 percent of the wins. From 28 frays contested on the dirt oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (25 percent), while four of the 18 grassy tussles went all the way on the lead (22 percent).

This was not an easy week for the handicappers, with only 11 favorites winning from 46 races. The main surface is pretty kind to speed horses, and we have seen a bunch of longshot winners leading at every call. With that said, if they go too fast early on, stalkers and late runners are not in without a chance.

Of the four winners on the lawn to score in wire-to-wire fashion, three came in route events, all on Saturday, and each one made a lot of sense. This is a very fair turf surface.

Meet Totals

RACES:   76
DIRT:   47
TURF:   29
FAVORITES:   23 (30 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   18 (24 percent)
TURF WIRE:   5 (17 percent)
DIRT WIRE:   12 (26 percent)

HORSES TO WATCH

Thursday (10/4)

2ND -- ONDINE (Medaglia d'Oro) showed improvement in this second lifetime run for trainer Bob Baffert and the juvenile colt will not be a maiden for long. He showed some solid closing ability to be a fine second today, more than nine lengths clear of his nearest pursuer.

3RD -- BIG SON OF A GUN (Kafwain) returns to this list after yet another fine showing, this time dusting his foes in the stretch to win his fourth race out of his last five tries. Dean Greenman made a nice claim of the gelding.

4TH -- BEHOLDER (Henny Hughes) took to this main oval with ease in dominating this field by 11 lengths under Garrett Gomez. The Grade 1-placed filly will be Breeders' Cup bound, and we would not discount her chances whichever race she heads for.

Friday (10/5)

3RD -- MOROCCO MOON (Rock of Gibraltar) made a sensational debut on U.S. soil for trainer Neil Drysdale, blowing past this field in a visually impressive performance. The sophomore filly should be stakes bound next time.

7TH -- IN THE STARS (Romarin) showed big improvement in her U.S. second start for Mandella, taking over at will in the lane to take this one going away. The multiple Group 1-placed filly has impressed in a pair of stateside runs and she got a mile in a snappy 1:33 3/5 here, suggesting she is of stakes quality.

Saturday (10/6)

3RD -- Japanese import TRAILBLAZER (Zenno Rob Roy), who was using this race as solely a prep race for the Breeders' Cup, put in a fine effort and should be a major force on this same oval next month.

4TH -- MERIT MAN (With Distinction) pressed the pace, took over nearing the turn for home and drew off late in a 5 1/2-length winner for conditioner Bob Hess to remain unbeaten from two lifetime tries.

8TH -- We liked the race put in by champion AMAZOMBIE (Northern Afleet), as he gave the impression of a horse who was not fully cranked for this one. The Bill spawr trainee will be a formidable foe when he defends his title in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) next out.

Monday (10/8)

4TH -- CONKATE (Exchange Rate) received a nice pace set up in this one, but still did some fine work when clear in the lane to take this race going away. The sophomore filly really took to this oval and should be tough right back for trainer Steve Knapp.

10TH -- Trainer David Hofmans surely had first time starter SULTRY SEASON (Mizzen Mast) ready for this one, as the juvenile miss overcame the rail and some traffic to annihilate this field by 8 3/4 lengths in a superb late rally under Talamo. The filly has breeding to handle the lawn, could possibly go longer, and will have every chance running on the all-weather tracks, as well. She has a lot of options going forward.

A Look Ahead

There are no graded races this weekend at The Great Race Place. Cal-bred runners will highlight the Saturday card with a handful of stakes events.

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