Santa Margarita and Rebel Stakes

Santa Margarita Stakes, Santa Anita, Grade I

Mopotism, the favorite, is a great horse, is incredibly talented, and has the best connections possible. The second favorite, Fault, is solid, her turf form is fantastic, but she has not competed on dirt in over a year and a surface switch can invite vulnerability. Yes, they are big names, but this isn't a popularity contest.

I don't care who the horses are if they can go fast and make money. This is a competitive group and there are a lot of horses with value in the bunch. Favorites are boring. This is the kind of race where it would be borderline dangerous to ignore the rest of the field. My advice: shoot from the hip with the following horses. Even if you only use them in exotics, these are the names that should help you cash tickets.

#7, Bishop's Pond

Pros: At 6/1, this lady has a lot in her favor. She has an extremely tight dirt spread if you are using the 4F figure, plus a New Pace Top (NPT) designation. In fact, her dirt spread is so tight, she is almost approaching a reversal which would indicate she is ready for more distance. Her NPT was also earned off of a layoff, making it more powerful.
Cons: Her 6F dirt spread is not as impressive and I would have preferred to see this horse back within 3 weeks of her last race.
Summary: Do not leave her out of your pick 3s, 4,s, 6s, exotics…whatever you may play. This horse has the ability and the form to come in and sweep the race. The only question is if she can handle the full distance.

#6, Majestic Heat
Pros: Also sitting at a 6/1 morning line, Majestic Heat also scored a very tight dirt spread off her last race for both the 4F and 6F figures which border on reversals. This suggests she is hungry for more distance. She also has a history of enjoying longer routes, albeit on turf rather than dirt, so her stamina should not be an issue.
Cons: She has lost to Mopitism before. Also, her recent final figures are just good, not awesome. However, she is competitive and could easily be Mop's equal, and Mop is hit-or-miss. Don't ignore her. Today could be her day.

Additional notes:
#3, Mended, 6/1, has excellent final figures across the board, yet poor energy distribution meaning the stretch-out will be more challenging for her unless she can get it together for this race. Keep in mind, the price is right for her to get it together.

#1, La Force, 6/1, is coming off an easy win last time out. She is a solid contender, however, she suffers from the same poor energy distribution issue (a large dirt spread) indicating the extra distance might be particularly taxing on her.

#2, Turkish Tabby, 15/1, looks like she is Jerry Hollendorfer's hand-picked rabbit to wear out the lead for his #8, Eccentric Spinster, and could be the lone pace. However, if this rabbit can go all 9 furlongs to win the race, she may as well jump out of a hat because it would be quite a magic trick.

#8, Eccentric Spinster, 15/1, is a bit of a mystery. There are no exciting back figures-- just a nice layoff, good work pattern, and decent connections. As far as evidence goes that this horse is fast or coming into form, I see little to get excited about on paper. However, the odds could be ripe enough to keep her in exotics.

Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn, Grade II
Solimini is solid and his connections are undeniable. But, this is horse racing, so if you are singling your pick-6 to him, you like to live more dangerously than I. Here are a few more options to boost your value, should he fail.

#1: Title Ready, 8/1.
Every figure earned is positive, every designation (reversal into a new pace top into a soft win…this is a dream!) points to the idea that this horse is ready to go nuts in this race. He likes this distance, his last out was an easy win, the time before he scored a new pace top off of a reversal which is one of the most powerful patterns possible. Literally, everything on paper is a green light. Do not ignore this horse. Seriously, do not ignore this horse.

#4: Magnum Moon, 7/2.
A reversal designation coming off a compression is very potent and the extra half furlong in this race should suit him nicely. It seems obvious yet important to point out that his final figure at a similar distance is the highest in the field and a full three points higher than Solomini's. The word on the street (indicated in the ML odds) is that Solomini will not be challenged in a field without the class of Bolt d' Oro or Good Magic running against him. Frankly, I think the real question is whether Magnum has ever been challenged. Also, quick reminder: Good Magic lost in the Fountain of Youth two weeks ago. This horse is ready to fire; the form cycle is there, the only question is if his natural ability can match the top of the group. Watch out.

#8: High North, 12/1.
All numbers indicate this horse will be in the mix. His final figures are fantastic, his spreads are fine, he's just all-around solid. No, he doesn't have an exciting designation and has no recent flashy wins or media hype surrounding him, but that doesn't mean you should leave him out of your tickets. There's nothing wrong with just being consistently fast at this distance. At 12/1, he's playable.

#2: Curlin's Honor, 12/1.
I hesitate deeply to even mention this horse. While undefeated, he scored a new pace top off his last race also coming off of a compression…however, it was scored in the slop and that can make for some funky numbers. While his 2F number indicates he has the ability to get to the front and stay there, his dirt spreads seem to show that the extra distance will be very challenging for him. If he gets a wild hair, look for him early and then hope he can hang on to the lead until the end.

About the Author

Carol Sutton is a handicapper from Lincoln, Nebraska. Her favorite surface is turf, favorite distance is a mile, and favorite tracks are Del Mar, Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Saratoga, and Thistledown. She regularly competes in handicapping contests around the Midwest.
While relatively new to the sport, she aims to integrate technology into handicapping to provide an edge against other betters. Ultimately, she wants to invigorate the horse racing industry by generating interest in the sport among women and millennials.


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