Santa Anita, Race 9, 7:37 pm ET
The San Marcos, Grade 2, One Mile and 1/4, Turf
The 2013 edition of the San Marcos has attracted 14 entrants and on paper figures to be quite a scramble. The fastest overall speed figures and the most decorated résumé belong to Richard’s Kid, but there are serious questions about whether this venerable eight-year-old is still able to produce his very best form, and the switch to grass (for just the second time in his career) only adds to the puzzle. On balance, it’s probably best to respectably pass on this winner of more than two million dollars, though he’ll surely enter the reckoning if the forecast rain arrives and this race is taken off the grass.
Assuming the San Marcos remains on turf, the most likely winner would seem to be Interaction, who has plenty going for him. He boasts the best last-out speed figure (119), has run top speed figures from a mile and an eighth up to a mile and a half and figures to be well drawn under top rider Joseph Talamo. The most likely winner he may be, but at 7/2 in this brimming field Interaction does not look like the most enticing play from a value standpoint.
All Squared Away does. He hasn’t looked back since switching to turf, recording a speed figure (112) as good as anything he’s managed before when getting up on the wire in an allowance race over this course and distance last time which didn’t really go his way. Today he returns to Graded races for trainer Pete Miller, who is not afraid to go hunting at a higher level with his horses. All Squared Away seems to be suited by rider Garrett Gomez, three of his best four speed figures (two coming in this grade) being produced under Gomez. Most important of all, however, is that All Squared Away is a tasty 10/1 on the morning line. He is therefore the recommended selection, or at the very least a solid use-underneath for those who prefer a different horse on the top of exotics.
Gulfstream Park, Race 11, 5:32 pm ET
The Donn Handicap, Grade 1, One Mile and 1/8, Dirt
Saturday’s card at Gulfstream Park features four Graded Stakes races and two Grade 1 events. The most anticipated confrontation of the day will take place when Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry make their seasonal debut together in a Grade 1 event on the undercard. However, for betting purposes, the best place to focus seems to be the featured Donn Handicap, which has attracted a high-quality field of 10.
Morning line favorite Flat Out can probably be termed a Belmont Park specialist. He’s undefeated in three starts at ‘Big Sandy’, running speed figures in the 130s each time. He put up a spectacular 134 when winning his second straight Jockey Club Gold Cup in his penultimate 2012 start; second-place finisher Stay Thirsty won the Cigar Mile next out, while third-place finisher Fort Larned won the Breeders’ Cup Classic next out (Flat Out was third in that race).
It’s not easy to endorse a seven-year-old making his first start off of a 98-day layoff and carrying top weight, especially at a track he didn’t seem to relish when finishing fifth in this race last year, but Flat Out’s undoubted class means he must still be used in exotics.
The two key horses in the Donn are Bourbon Courage and Fast Falcon. Bourbon Courage exploded onto the scene last winter at Fairgrounds when he earned a stellar 120 speed figure in his debut. His development was probably hindered by physical issues, since in his fourth start back in June 2012 he competed in the Woody Stephens with two bar shoes on. It appears as though Bourbon Courage is now over those issues and has regained form, as evidenced by his last three speed figures all matching up to his exceptional debut. What’s more, there’s a case for saying the race hasn’t gone his way in either of his last two starts, since he had to rally off slow early fractions. The pace dynamics appear much more suitable in this race, and Bourbon Courage has landed the coveted rail post to boot.
The other horse who is a must-use in exotics is Fast Falcon. This one-dimensional plodder will probably be double his 15/1 morning line and he has been badly hindered by slow paces in his last two races. He figures to get a dream pace setup and should have an excellent chance of getting back to the speed figure of 123 that he ran the last time he got a good setup.