Saturday Stakes Preview: In The Grade 2 San Gabriel at Santa Anita, a 12/1 shot intrigues


>>Go to the PPs for the San Gabriel| 4:00 Post Time PDT Saturday

The Grade 2, $200,000 San Gabriel has a field of 11 horses, plus three on the A/E list. They will be going a mile and 1/8 on the grass, and the favorite on the morning line is Obviously.

According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, Obviously will be on a clear early lead. No surprise there. He is followed by Macro Access, Kenjisstorm, and Bal a Bali.

The fastest Late Pace rating in the field, a 131, belongs to Big John B.

Here is the field in post position order, with morning line odds in parentheses:

Flamboyant (20-1): Has not won a race since April of 2014. Was the third nose on the wire in an optional claimer at Santa Anita in his most recent start. He earned a lifetime-top speed figure of 121 for that effort and draws a good post. If everything falls into place, maybe he can run on and get into the exotics.

Big John B (7-2): Classy seven-year-old is 13 for 31 on grass and has won two Grade 2s. Enters off a fast-closing second in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar. He paired his lifetime-top figure of 122 in that race, capitalizing on a fast pace, and the race received a Race Rating that is three points higher than the preliminary Race Rating for today’s race. Trained by the superb Phil D’Amato (100 rating in turf routes), Big John B is qualified in every way to win this race, but the distance seems short of his best, and he’ll be obliged to pass an awful lot of horses late. We’re not sure this is a situation we want at relatively short odds.

Poshsky (12-1): Has won his last two races, most recently a synthetic Grade 3 at Golden Gate. Has a top grass speed figure of 121, which fits in here. Has had no success in graded stakes on turf. Has a pleasing running style, handles this distance, and switches to an outstanding route rider in Victor Espinoza. We find ourselves tempted to make a case for Poshsky at big odds, but something holds us back—most likely it’s that nagging feeling that on grass this six-year-old is just half a cut below the best of his opponents.

Texas Ryano (10-1): Rode the rail in the Hollywood Turf Cup and finished an indifferent 8th. No match for Bal a Bali two back. Will need better today but figures to be running on.

Power Ped (12-1):

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 11.16.45 AM

Fired a big shot (speed figure of 121) in the Hollywood Turf Cup, but ultimately proved no match for The Pizza Man, and lost to Big John B by 3/4 of a length. Has yet to win a graded stake. Consistent gelding cuts back from marathons but has been effective at shorter distances. Not all that dissimilar from Poshsky in several ways, Power Ped intrigues us because of the way he ran in the Hollywood Turf Cup. We feel he ran better than it looks on paper. The race had a “sneaky fast” pace. He made an eye-catching middle-move and lost a lot of ground racing wide. We would not rule him out at big odds.

Class Leader (20-1): Would need to show quite a bit more than he has shown to date.

Bal a Bali (7-2): Richard Mandella six-year-old has fired nothing but good shots since arriving from Brazil. Last five speed figures: 128 123 119 126 124. Won a Grade 3 in his US debut. Second in a Grade 2 last time. Has not gone this far in the US. However, his record in Brazil removes any distance concerns instantly. Loses Bejarano to Big John B, but Prat was aboard for his lone US win and reacquires the mount. Has a pleasing stalker/midpack style and is a strong contender for a Hall of Fame trainer.

Obviously (3-1): Superb gelding is rich in accomplishments, and while he has been going through something of a dry spell, his speed figures remain powerful. As usual, he projects to be on a clear early lead. A confirmed miler, he has never gone this far. He’s a Grade 1 winner and the best horse in the field at his best. The question is whether the combination of the 9F and the step or so that he may have lost makes him unworthy of taking at a relatively short price.

Wanstead Gardens (20-1): Has had to labor far too hard to clear a couple of allowance conditions.

Chiropractor (4-1): Enters off a 14-1 upset in the Hollywood Derby. Improving gelding will be quite a bit lower today and draws poorly. Has the right rider (Nakatani) to try to pull off a trip from this post, but the pace was in his favor last time, and he was not all that distinguished previously. He is a contender, but we will look elsewhere if he goes off near his morning line odds

Macro Access (20-1): Speedster is very much compromised by the presence of Obviously and is further compromised by his post position and by the fact that to date he has been the slowest horse in the race.

Also Eligibles:

Kenjisstorm (50-1), Southern Freedom (15-1), and Quick Casablanca (20-1).

The Play:

The big three, Big John B, Obviously, and Bal a Bali, seems likely to produce the winner at unexciting odds. We will give Bal a Bali preference and call him the most likely winner, but the horse we want at high odds is Power Ped.

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One Response to Saturday Stakes Preview: In The Grade 2 San Gabriel at Santa Anita, a 12/1 shot intrigues

  1. Marc Estrich says:

    Hard to tell if ridiculous speed bias has abated that hallmarked the first several days of the meet. Old saw. How do you get a good turf course?? Plant it…and let it grow for a hundred years(so it will go through freezes, thaws, wet weather, dry weather,etc. the grass will get strong rooting and put up with horses in shoes running over it) is confirmed by the crap turf courses in SoCal which are constantly torn up and re planted. Drayden Van Dyke while praising the current conveyor belt did offer worry that the “kickback” (kickback on a turf course!!) was heavy and down the road could prove a problem. Perhaps re-claimed desert is not conducive to the rigors of a turf course.



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