by Zoe Cadman
June 4, 2020
Santa Anita Oaks (Saturday Race 5)
It’s hard to ignore the daughter of American Pharoah in here. Her maiden win at Oaklawn was dazzling as was her last work on May 31. But the proof in the pudding is always in the second-to-last work, and on May 24 while working solo under Drayden Van Dyke she sparkled early and sparkled late. She worked 7 furlongs in in 1:24 4/5 and galloped out a good mile. She doesn’t have the resume of some of these, but off that work, she is the one to beat.
She draws outside of Merneith, a perfect spot to push the pace. Speech’s May 16 work was sharp, never being asked and working in a snappy :47 2/5. Any doubts that she may bounce off a big effort surely have to be squashed here. One thing to note, though: Ce Ce also ran a massive race in the Apple Blossom the same weekend Speech was at Oaklawn and came back with a sub-par effort last week. Food for thought.
This filly just broke her maiden May 17 with an 80 Beyer Speed Figure. Many will think she’s doubtful to run (Why run two when one will do?). However, she earned her way into an Oaks bid with a strong final work in company with Gingham on May 30. Regal Beauty set the pace (usual rabbit-style for Bob Baffert) and actually out-worked Grade 2-placed Gingham to the wire. This, too, is a Grade 2 race, and it’s super-important for these well-bred, pricey fillies to get black type for their broodmare future. Use underneath.
Hollywood Gold Cup (Saturday Race 10)
Thrived in Dubai and perhaps he has turned the corner. Trainer Doug O’Neill has fully trounced the ‘Dubai Bounce’ with a couple of his Dubai string already winning at Santa Anita since reopening. O’Neill has won the Gold Cup 4 times, and Parsimony looked sharp in his local May 22 work, reeling off 12-and-change splits throughout a 6-furlong drill and galloping out sharply. My only question: He ran so well in Dubai sans Lasix, why put him back on? Sometimes it can dull horses.
Quirky son of champion sprinter Midnight Lute loses the blinkers for this one after wearing them for all 10 starts. Surprisingly, distance is not a problem for him and figures to be in the mix. His local May 31 work was typical, working solo with Amy Vasko up, as he cruised around there in his high-headed way. This colt has talent, winning 5 of 10, and the blinkers off will help Victor Espinoza put this colt in a good spot. I’m using with Higher Power.
Fair to say this son of Medaglia D’oro flopped in the Pegaus World Cup as favorite in January. John Sadler has always said, though, he loves to train on the track he’s going to run on. Gulfstream didn’t afford him that home luxury that Santa Anita does; so I’m going to give him a pass. Higher Power has been freshened since, and Sadler is a healthy 17% winner off the layoff. Higher Power’s May 29 work was as good as it gets. While the time (1:14 for 6 furlongs) won’t jump off the page, the way that he did it sure does. (As they say, It’s not how fast you’re going, it’s how you’re going fast.) Allowed to settle off maiden winner Rogallo, Higher Power looked in a lovely rhythm before engulfing him like Chris Farley with a pound cake – and left the crumbs at the eighth-pole. It was a super work for a colt who, at 5 years old, may be the best he’s ever been. Top Pick.
This longshot owns a win at the distance and certainly seems to like the dirt. He ran a better-than-looked fourth in the Santa Anita Handicap. Brown Storm’s May 31 work was full of energy. He found company and the three-eighths pole and appeared to lug out slightly (perhaps more him fighting the rider than anything else). Once he hit the straight, he straightened out nicely. Refusing to wane at all, in fact, he galloped out to the half-mile pole. A definite use for me at a price. Should Higher Power and Midcourt stub their toes, this guy could be waiting in the wings.
One day, I would love to see this son of City Zip on the grass. But, hey, I can dream! Improbable is solid at a mile, but I fear the 1-1/4 miles may be stretching his limits. Drawn towards the outside of the field, this will help this inherently bad gate horse. Works-wise, he gets a gold star; but, then he always does. Improbable had a super solo work (7 furlongs in 1:25 1/5) on May 30 and looked good throughout. He’s likely to be over-bet, and I prefer others at the classic distance.