Key Bets & Races for Saturday, January 28

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California Cup Oaks - Race #5 at Santa Anita – Post Time 4:50 PM ET, 1:50 PT

The California Cup Oaks and the two races that follow offer some excellent betting action, both within the races and in the pick 3.

The favorite is Sircat Sally (9 to 5 morning line odds), who has earned both her wins leading from start to finish, the most recent at this mile trip but on dirt. Not only does the handicapping adage "Don't bet a horse at low odds trying something for the first time" apply here, but there are at least two horses stretching out from sprints who can easily deny the favorite the early lead she wants, particularly from the nine post. All that early heat sets up a trio of stalkers and closers nicely, starting with Bella Luma, who already has positive experience on turf, having rallied for second in the second start of her career, first on turf, at this mile trip. She won her next start, on an all-weather surface, by nine lengths, before an irrelevant try in the Jimmy Durante Stakes when debris appeared on the course, causing her and many of the others to check and lose all chance. Her most recent race, on dirt, is the one in which Sircat Sally coasted around the track in front and irrelevant, so she can easily bounce back to form good enough to win. 

Mi Pi Romancer ran very well when she tried turf for the first time in November, rallying for second in a field of 10. Next out, she led from start to finish but Prat knows from an outside post he must take her back and save ground today, so she is another that should be running on strongly late as the pacesetters and pressers tire. How About Zero tried turf just once, in the Jimmy Durante, and was also affected by the debris on the track. She finished far behind Sircat Sally last month but she did win a similar stakes for California breds before that from off the pace, showing she has the ability to take back early and come rolling late. 

Bet Bella Luma to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more. Add a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher. 

Consider a smaller win and place bet on How About Zero at odds of 9 to 2 or higher. 

Play an exacta of Bella Luma, How About Zero and Mi Pi Romancer over ALL.

Pick 3 for Santa Anita Races 5 through 7

Pick 3

Race 5: Bella Luma, How About Zero and Mi Pi Romancer

Race 6: Solid Wager, Well Measured and Jimmy Bouncer

Race 7: He Will, Ashleyluvssugar and Ralis

Cost at $1 is $27


California Cup Sprint - Race #6 at Santa Anita –Post Time 5:21 PM ET, 2:21 PT

Solid Wager may be a legitimate favorite in this race, having won the similar Cary Grant Stakes one before last then ending up in a dead heat for the win in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes on December 31. He has earned five of his eight career wins on this track and should get the pace setup he needs to be up in time once again. He's not a lock though and Well Measured is very intriguing as he was claimed for $20,000 out of his last start, with the winner's share of $90,000 an incentive for trainer Baltas (who does very well with his new acquisitions) to get him to run back to his six length win in August which was a career best effort. Jimmy Bouncer was no match for Solid Wager in the Midnight Lute but did win a stakes for Cal-Breds two before that and if Gutierrez can get a yard or two on the competition out of the gate he could be tough to catch, the gelding having a perfect three-for-three record on fast dirt. 

Bet Solid Wager to win at odds of 9 to 5 or higher.

Consider a win bet on Well Measured at 5 to 2 or more.

There could be some value in the exacta even with the favorite winning as the second betting choice, Richard's Boy, runs much better on turf than he does on the dirt. 

Play an exacta consisting of Solid Wager, Well Measured and Jimmy Bouncer over Solid Wager, Well Measured, Jimmy Bouncer and Richard's Boy


Pegasus World Cup Invitational - Race #12 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:40 PM ET

Noble Bird likes to run loose on the lead and those are the tactics most likely to be employed in the Pegasus since trainer Casse said just that last week.Three of the last four times he's been allowed an early edge Noble Bird has found stakes winning form and been unchallenged in the final eighth of a mile.Last fall, Noble Bird earned a career best Equibase Figure winning the Fayette Stakes handily at the distance. That's within range of the 124 figure Arrogate earned winning the Breeders' Cup Classic and Arrogate may have a couple chinks in the armor (see below). I expect both Neolithic, Arrogate and California Chrome to take positions behind Noble Bird in the first few yards and even though Noble Bird may expend too much energy in the early stages to hold off the stalkers and closers in the stretch, with starting odds of 25 to 1 I am willing to find out if that is the case. 

California Chrome draws the extreme outside 12 post for the Pegasus, and that could be problematic to say the least. However, in his most recent race he got a feeling for that scenario when winning from off the pace while many paths wide on both turns. What that tells us is that if jockey Victor Espinoza can't get California Chrome near the rail going into the first turn, he still could run good enough to win, certainly as he's coming off a career best and field high 132 Equibase Figure effort. California Chrome put in a very strong pair of workouts locally since arriving and considering Arrogate did not show an official workout over the track, the familiarity with the Gulfstream Park surface could mean the difference in California Chrome turning the tables on Arrogate from his tough defeat in the Breeders' Cup Classic. 

Arrogate has won his last five races including the Breeders' Cup Classic with a career best 124 figure. He gets the ground saving rail and can settle anywhere from second to fifth in the early stages. There were some setbacks in his workout regimen due to the wet weather in California but Arrogate appears to be coming up to the race in peak shape with one proviso, that being Arrogate has never raced or had an official workout at Gulfstream Park and trainer Bob Baffert has not started a horse over this track in the past 10 years. 

Neolithic is untested at this level but might be this good as his most recent effort, here at Gulfstream Park, yielded a 121 figure competitive with the other three win contenders. To add to the intrigue, Neolithic won by nine lengths while never being asked for his best. With positive race experience over the track both California Chrome and Arrogate lack, and starting at odds of 30 to 1, Neolithic, along with Noble Bird, may be a key to profit in this race.

For the exacta and trifecta we can add a few juicy longshots, starting with Keen Ice, who was closer to the pace in the early stages than he had been in many of his previous races but still re-rallied for second after losing that position in the stretch. Eragon (ARG) is an Argentine horse with 10 wins in 20 races and has won at the distance (on turf). He has also won his last two races on dirt, both Group 1 stakes races. In spite of being wide on the far turn in both wins, Eragon (ARG) really extended his stride in the stretch so if the pace is really hot don’t be surprised to see him rolling past many in this field. Shaman Ghost and Breaking Lucky were separated by a total of a neck although first and fourth, respectively, in the Woodward Stakes last summer at Saratoga. The 120 figure Shaman Ghost earned was a career best, as was the 119 earned by Breaking Lucky. If either of these two horses run in the Pegasus as they did in the Woodward, this race could get very interesting as they could be in the thick of the action at the finish. 

Bet Noble Bird to win and place at odds of 4 to 1 or more.

Bet Neolithic to win and place at odds of 6 to 1 or more.

There is no point playing any exacta boxes using both Arrogate and California Chrome so the exacta plays are as follows:

Play an exacta box consisting of Noble Bird, Arrogate and Neolithic

Play an exacta box consisting of Noble Bird, California Chrome and Neolithic

Play an exacta of Arrogate and California Chrome over Neolithic, Noble Bird, Shaman Ghost, Keen Ice, Breaking Lucky and Eragon

Play an exacta consisting of Arrogate, Neolithic, Noble Bird and California Chrome over Arrogate, California Chrome, Neolithic, Noble Bird, Shaman Ghost, Keen Ice, Breaking Lucky and Eragon


California Cup Turf Classic Stakes - Race #7 at Santa Anita –Post Time 6:12 PM ET, 3:12 PT

He Will is the "NOW" horse and although there are a number of entrants dropping out of higher graded stakes, he is a KEY BET on the day. He Will is two-for-two with Bejarano (who will ride here) aboard and before a mostly irrelevant try down the hillside turf course in the Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes, had improved in three straight races, winning the last two of those. The key is the race on the Santa Anita turf on October 15 under Bejarano, absolutely representative of the effort he's capable of putting forth today. 

Ashleyluvssugar is likely to be the heavy favorite on the drop in class from grade 1 and grade 2 stakes to this statebred level. However, taking the same drop (albeit off a 10 month layoff) in June, he could only manage a third place finish. The difference between that effort and the one we may see today is that trainer Eurton had him put in a very sharp five furlong workout last week, so with Prat taking over for Stevens (recovering from surgery) and the ground saving rail, it's tough to discount his chances to at least be in the exacta. Ralis also drops out of grade 1s and grade 2s. The last time he faced Cal-Breds was last May in the similar Snow Chief Stakes and he missed by a nose in a top effort that he may show again here. One horse we must not leave out of the exacta is Temple Keys, opening at 20 to 1, because in the similar Snow Chief Stakes in 2015, he finished fast from 11th to second at nearly 30 to 1 and is in top form with two big races in a row but against lesser competition. I'll use second favorite What a View in second as well but even though he's dropping like Ashleyluvssugar and Ralis, having run three clunkers in a row is a concern. 

Bet He Will to win at 2 to 1 or higher. 

Play an exacta box consisting of He Will, Ashleyluvssugar and Ralis

Play an exacta consisting of He Will, Ashleyluvssugar and Ralis over He Will, Ashleyluvssugar, Ralis, Temple Keys, What a View and Patriots Rule


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