Friday February 28 – Santa Anita Top Play
Scheduled local post time 2:00 pm PT
In Santa Anita’s third race, a horse I have been waiting for makes her return after two months. Although she may not win this race, I am convinced she will outrun her odds, offer tremendous value in exotics, and possibly hit the winner’s circle.
(5) Passing Shower was so, so much better than her debut running line would indicate, that it’s hard to convey. By pure luck, since I hadn’t bet the race, I saw her loading into the starting gate before her debut, on December 29. An absolutely gorgeous, huge, shiny filly, she looked like a champion before she ran her first step in a race. Unfortunately, her actual first step was a terrible one, and she was five lengths behind the field in the blink of an eye. She continued to go backwards up the backstretch, looking like a horse who didn’t even realize she was in a race. The camera operator went to full wide-angle just to keep her in the screen, and then finally gave up on that endeavor as they entered the turn. Coming into the stretch, she was still several solid lengths behind the final flight of other horses. But she flew through the lane and was absolutely inhaling horses crossing the wire while not really appearing to be asked. Within three seconds after crossing the wire, she was fourth and still in full flight.
There is no way this kind of effort–in which she essentially ran for only three furlongs out of six–could possibly get a good speed figure. But her number of 64 isn’t even that bad, considering. Add to that the fact that the winner, Fashion Plate, returned to whip an allowance field, and that the track was favoring speed that day (something that Passing Shower most certainly was not), and that (as TimeformUS research has shown) second-time starters often move up in dramatic ways anyway, and that she has an extra 1/2 furlong to play with (wish this were 7f), and you have all the makings of a gigantic improvement today. She’s also the longest shot in the field, according to the morning line.
(3) Empress of Midway seems to be the horse to beat off of a very solid debut, in which she earned a 93 in a strong field (TimeformUS race rating of 97). She figures to be in a nice stalking position right outside (1) Zensational Beauty and looks to be the much better finisher. A perfect horse to box with our top choice in exactas.
(1) Zensational Beauty and (2) Not A Love Song look a notch below Empress of Midway.
(5) Passing Shower to win.
Exacta box (3)-(5)