Friday January 31 – Santa Anita Top Play
Scheduled local post time 4:05 pm PT
It’s not too often you see a 20-1 morning line shot who seems to entirely fit in her field, but that seems to be the case in today’s 7th race at Santa Anita with (1) MY LIL SHAMROCK.
This four-year-old mare came off a 200-day layoff (in her first try for a new trainer), and responded with a career effort against similar foes. Going over the 6 1/2 furlong downhill course in only her second lifetime turf try, she posted a strong TimeformUS speed figure of 91. That figure was good enough to put her in contention with the rest of these, but not necessarily good enough to beat them. But it’s the way she did it that caught the eye. Mid pack and eager, she wasn’t quite “steadied” in that she was never forcibly restrained by her jockey at any point, but she was never able to run freely, either. Constantly pulling on the bit and in behind other horses, she never looked comfortable. Finally free in the lane, she finished well, but not well enough to pass anyone. Still, at 39-1, it was a surprisingly good performance–good enough to say that she’s a different horse for the new trainer, after the layoff.
(7) ULTRASONIC is clearly the horse to beat after a strong American debut against stakes company. She had also been earning consistently good figures in her British races. Note, however, that the TimeformUS race rating for her first US start was only three points higher than the allowance event in which MY LIL SHAMROCK, and a couple others, competed in, and she definitely hung at the wire. Additionally, the comments on her British races show a degree of ire on the part of the commenter (“is proving both frustrating and expensive to follow”; “isn’t one to be backing at short prices.”). Who are we to argue with our friends across the pond? Use her in a box somewhere, maybe, but don’t key her.
(9) KINZ FUNKY MONKEY set a fast pace over the green last time and held on for second. She’s the one to catch again today, and note that the TimeformUS Pace Projector considers this to be a race favoring horses on or near the lead. I personally find this downhill course to be one that somewhat neutralizes such advantages, so while I like her here, I don’t love her.
(8) REMIZE ran well in her American debut upon arrival from New Zealand, beating our choice, but had an easier trip.
(11) ZIA ZIA ZIA may be a little better on turf and is worth a look.
Plays: (1) MY LIL SHAMROCK to win
Exacta box (1)-(7)
Exacta box (1)-(9)
Small trifecta box (1)-(7)-(9)