The San Fernando, Grade 2, Santa Anita, Four-Year-Olds, 1 1/16, Dirt
Contention runs deep in this edition of the Grade 2 San Fernando, with the morning line favorite (Fed Biz) at 7/2 and nine of the 10 starters having morning lines of 10/1 or lower. Indeed, even the rank outsider on the morning line, Sky Kingdom, is not devoid of merit, given that he’s trained by Bob Baffert and went off at 7/2 in another Grade 2 on his most recent start, a race in which the eventual winner of last year’s Kentucky Derby went off at 43/1!
After comparing the horses’ Performance Figures to their morning line odds, three horses command special attention:
Mile High Magic (8/1) is fresh off a powerful Performance Figure of 124, earned around one turn in a minor stakes. Performance Figures are adjusted for pace, and in his most recent race, Mile High Magic got involved in a speed duel with the headstrong Private Zone and paid the price in the stretch. Today he is attempting a route for the first time, and, provided that the removal of his customary blinkers doesn’t leave him too relaxed, he seems to have a good chance to clear off from this field early. He has had two months to recover from his previous effort. He shows typically blazing Bob Baffert workouts and could prove difficult to overhaul today.
Guilt Trip (6/1) had a deceptively difficult trip in the Malibu. Although it’s not noted in the official result chart, he broke inward and was roughed up a bit at the start, before racing wide around the turn. His Performance Figure of 117 was noteworthy in those circumstances, and he has performed well previously in routes.
Tribal Jewel (6/1) benefited from a fast pace (denoted by the race fraction appearing in red) in his most recent race, saving ground off the pace and then easing out in the stretch to make a winning run and earn a solid Performance Figure of 115. His trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has been hot of late and his ever-patient rider figures to have him well placed to capitalize should a hot pace emerge.
The Pasco Stakes, Tampa Bay, Three-Year-Olds, 7 Furlongs, Dirt
The undefeated Purple Egg made his stakes debut in the Inaugural on opening day at Tampa. That race unfolded as poorly as it possibly could have for him. He was rated back early, while the odds-on favorite Brave Dave was allowed to an unchallenged lead and duly set extremely slow fractions. In what was otherwise a merry-go-round race where not a single other horse passed anyone, Purple Egg made a visually impressive wide move and powered past the heavy favorite late on to earn a Performance Figure of 99.
Even though our performances figures are adjusted for pace and Purple Egg got a little extra credit, horses who race behind very slow paces like the one in the Inaugural will still probably record lower than usual figures. For instance, #3 Falling Sky also was taken in hand and ridden patiently behind that slow pace. He was unable to muster a late rally, but has proven capable of much better when he wasn’t taken under restraint early.
Purple Egg has been training sensationally with three consecutive bullet workouts going into this race, and the visually powerful finish last time makes us believe that he will relish the added distance. His sire Lion Heart was a very fast horse, but had enough stamina to finish second in the Kentucky Derby. More importantly, his dam Luminous Prize won all four of her races at a mile or further and was second in the 1999 Waya Handicap going a mile and a half on the turf at Hollywood Park.
For Trifecta and Superfecta wagering purposes, it could be as easy as one-two-three. #1 Dynamic Sky comes here from a sixth-placed finish in the Breeders Cup Juvenile last time out and was second in a Grade 1 stakes race on synthetic two starts back. He is expected to vie for favoritism with Purple Egg but, as implied above, he could well be running for second money at best. #2 Mind Spell goes for red-hot trainer Jason DaCosta, who has eight wins and four seconds from just 17 starters so far this meet. More importantly, Mind Spell has been chasing a lot of fast paces of late. There isn’t a lot of early speed to chase here, and Mind Spell might enjoy the early lead from his rail draw. Finally, the aforementioned Falling Sky ran a strong Figure of 100 last time out and projects for a prefect stalking trip.