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World Approval, McKinzie Headline Spectacular Big Cap Saturday

by Dustin Fabian

March 8, 2018

In horse racing, it’s tough to have a better day than this Saturday.  In California, five graded stakes races – including the Big Cap and San Felipe – headline a star-studded card.  In Florida, Tampa Bay Downs has five stakes races, three of which are graded, topped by the Tampa Bay Derby.  And in New York, Aqueduct has an all-stakes Late Pick 4 including the Gotham Stakes.  Talk about a loaded docket!

My main focus is on Santa Anita, though.  Their card features a $1 Million Guaranteed Late Pick 4 and an enticing All-Stakes Pick 3 that spans races 4 – 6.  Plus, if you bet the races at Xpressbet, you can take advantage of our 0% Takeout promotion on the Late Pick 4 and a Money-Back Guarantee on the San Felipe.  Get your bet back, up to $10, if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd!

Here are my picks for the five stakes races on the card: 

Race 4 (4:30PM ET) – Triple Bend Stakes (Gr 1; 400k)
Start of All-Stakes Pick 3

The All-Stakes Pick 3 kicks off with the Grade 1 Triple Bend, which is a rematch between the 1-2 finishers in last December’s G1 Malibu, City of Light and Edwards Going Left.  Somewhat ironically, those two horses were 7/1 and 14/1 that day, so they weren’t exactly the horses you’d expect to fill out the Exacta. I'm going to make Giant Expectations my top pick here, despite the fact that they may opt to run him later in the card in the Big Cap.  He's simply classier than the rest of these and has an experience edge and would be cutting back to an appropriate distance for him.  Otherwise, I’m going to make Captain Scotty my next pick.  He has just two starts to his credit, but both were blowout wins.  His outside draw is excellent for him and we simply don't know how good he is yet. 

1. Giant Expectations
2. Captain Scotty
3. Edwards Going Left

Race 5 (5:00PM ET) Frank E. Kilroe Mile (Gr 1; 400k)

I’ll be honest – it’s hard to envision a scenario where World Approval loses this race.  He’s the best turf horse in North America and this is ‘his’ distance.  If he handles the travel and turf course (and there’s no reason to believe he won’t), he should handle this field.  Plus, you have to like that Flavien Prat jumps off Om, who he just won a G3 aboard, to ride.  Bowies Hero has developed into strong miler and needed to go past Om in the Thunder Road last out, but he looks like the type of horse that should hit the board.

1. World Approval
2. Bowies Hero
3. Om

Race 6 (5:30PM ET) San Felipe Stakes (Gr 2; 400k)

It’s time for McKinzie to shine.  Bob Baffert has won this race a remarkable seven times, including two of the last three.  A perfect 3-for-3, McKinzie has already scored in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity (via DQ) and the G3 Sham and seems to have an edge over Bolt d’Oro as it comes to fitness.  Bolt d’Oro hasn’t run since the Breeders’ Cup and had a minor setback that forced him to miss a scheduled start last month.  And as we saw last Saturday with Good Magic, it isn’t easy to come back off a long layoff in a tough two-turn graded stakes race.  Plus, his connections don’t seem keen on running over a wet track, which could push them to Oaklawn next weekend.  Kanthaka impressed me a lot last month in the G2 San Vicente and even though that race fell apart, he looked powerful winning it.  He’s my pick to finish second behind McKinzie. 

1. McKinzie
2. Kanthaka
3. Bolt d’Oro 

Race 8 (6:30PM ET) – China Doll Stakes (75k)
Start of $1 Million Guaranteed Late Pick 4

I think the China Doll is a two-horse race, with the discussing coming down to Ms Bad Behavior and Californiagoldrush.  Miss Bad Behavior has run two great races on the downhill course (a 1st and a 2nd) and gets a positive jockey switch to Kent Desormeaux.  Her inside draw is great and her tactical speed should ensure a favorable trip.  Californiagoldrush is a perfect 2-for-2 and I feel she’s been precocious early in her career, despite coming from a barn that doesn’t generally excel early.  Ippodamia’s Girl didn’t draw well and has been off since December 31.

1. Californiagoldrush
2. Ms Bad Behavior
3. Ippodamia’s Girl

Race 10 (7:30PM ET) – Santa Anita Handicap (Gr 1; 600k)

The field in this year’s Big Cap is evenly-matched, so value should be prevalent throughout.  My top pick is Mubtaahij, who, in my opinion, was hindered by a questionable ride last out in the San Pasqual.  This isn’t the type of horse that wants to be put on the lead and I think he’ll benefit from a tracking trip this time around.  Plus, note the jockey change to Mike Smith.  A wet track could hinder him, though.  Accelerate seems to be back in form, but I don’t necessarily think he’s a 1 ¼-mile horse.  Fear the Cowboy is the type of horse that runs on almost anything and despite his clear affinity for Gulfstream, he should do well here.

1. Mubtaahij (IRE)
2. Accelerate
3. Fear the Cowboy