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Race of the Week: Cal Cup Sprint at Santa Anita | Saturday, January 15, 2022

by Jeremy Plonk

January 13, 2022


The Lead:
Five stakes races and a mandatory payout in the Rainbow 6 highlight Cal Cup Day at Santa Anita on Saturday. The best of the Golden State across multiple divisions will be out en force. Four of the Rainbow 6 races are stakes, including the 6-furlong $150,000 Cal Cup Sprint in Race 9.

​Field Depth:
Grade 2 winner BRICKYARD YARD is the defending champion and clear-cut leader on class. None of the other runners have won a graded stakes. PEACEFUL TRANSFER, POSITIVITY, LOUD MOUTH and PRINCIPE CARLO all are listed stakes winners.

BRICKYARD RIDE is one of America's fastest sprinters from the gate and should be on the lead again with pressure from LETSGETLUCKY and possibly PRINCIPE CARLO and COLT FICTION.

Our Eyes:
BRICKYARD RIDE has been out since late August at Del Mar, so his reaction to that layoff is the absolute key to the Cal Cup Sprint. He's run 18 times in his career and never had a significant break in training. His gate workout at XBTV on Jan. 8 was a mixed review in that he was relaxed early for a hot-speed horse, but was pushed hard on the turn before finishing up. Trainer Craig Lewis isn't known for firing hot off the layoff, so the defending champion in this race could be vulnerable.

The alternatives to BRICKYARD YARD line up out of the Nov. 21 Cary Grant Stakes at Del Mar. That was 7 furlongs over a different surface, so you can't make a direct comparison. However, this eye saw runner-up POSITIVITY have the toughest trip between horses much of the way, and yet he still ran a sharp second by a nose. PRINCIPE CARLO got up while wide at 18-1 in the Cary Grant. He's 9-10 in the exacta at Santa Anita, so his good form should continue. But note PRINCIPE CARLO is just 1-6 at 6 furlongs. COLT FICTION, third by only a neck in the Cary Grant, should benefit from the shorter trip and has run well at Santa Anita. Two significant jockey changes out of the Cary Grant: red-hot riders Flavien Prat (POSITIVITY) and John Velazquez (COLT FICTION) have been marvels early in the SA meet.

LETSGETLUCKY is the fresh face to the elder Cal-bred sprint scene. The 4-year-old exits a pair of fast races in allowance company, most recently against open rivals at Del Mar. The Brian Koriner trainee has won 2 of 3 at Santa Anita on dirt and is the X-factor on Saturday.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
PRINCIPE CARLO if 9-10 in the exacta at Santa Anita on dirt and has been in the superfecta in 9 of his last 10 starts. He rarely misfires.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
LOUD MOUTH, fourth in this race last year, could move up off the John Sadler claim last time out and likely will be overlooked in the betting.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$70 win POSITIVITY. $5 exacta key-box POSITIVITY with COLT FICTION, PRINCIPE CARLO & LETSGETLUCKY ($30). Let's take a stand against BRICKYARD RIDE and let the chips fall.