by Jeremy Plonk
March 3, 2021
Eight runners, including unbeaten Maxfield, entered today for Saturday’s tradition-rich Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. The Big ‘Cap headlines an 11-race program that begins at noon PT and includes a mandatory payout in the Rainbow 6 pool that could reach more than $6 million. The mile and one-quarter Santa Anita Handicap has been run since the track’s inaugural 1934-’35 race meeting and has been won by legends like Seabiscuit, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, John Henry and Alysheba.
The 2020 Santa Anita Handicap presents the first west coast foray for Louisiana-based Maxfield, who is 5-for-5 with graded stakes wins at ages 2, 3 and 4. Florent Geroux accompanies the Brendan Walsh trainee west and will be adorned in the famed Godolphin blue from post 2. Shaman Ghost was the most recent Santa Anita Handicap winner in 2017 who raided from outside California.
The gate will be positioned at the head of the homestretch with a long run to the clubhouse turn, so post positions in an eight-horse field ought not have a major impact. Tizamagician, runner-up in the San Pasqual and one of four horses re-matched from that Jan. 30 local tilt, is expected to be the pace-setter once again from post 7. His trainer, Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, has been red-hot in recent weeks with 5 wins from his last 8 starters, according to the Betmix database.
Rail-drawn Independence Day could be asked for some early pace by the meet’s leading jockey, Flavien Prat. Coastal Defense, sixth in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, adds blinkers for the first time and could show more early foot from post 4.
As for Saturday’s undercard, Sham Stakes 1-2 finishers Life Is Good and Medina Spirit re-match for Bob Baffert in the Grade 2 San Felipe (Race 6). Those Triple Crown trail hopefuls kick off the Rainbow 6 sequence that also includes the Grade 2 San Carlos (Race 8) for sprinters, as well as a Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (Race 9) that features shippers for the likes of Todd Pletcher, Chad Brown, Bill Mott and Mark Casse.
1/ST BET will offer a free spin of sorts in the Rainbow 6, giving up to $10 back on your wagers in the jackpot bet. And customers both at 1/ST BET and Xpressbet can take part in the Santa Anita Handicap Money-Back Guarantee. Get up to $20 back if your Santa Anita Handicap win bet finishes second or third.
For more coverage of Saturday’s big card at Santa Anita, be sure to follow Xpressbet columnists Jon White (Wednesday) and Johnny D. (Thursday) with their Post Time and On Track contributions – and our XBTV analysts Eddie Olczyk and Jeff Siegel with their video analysis later in the week.
Race 10 // 7:30 pm ET // Santa Anita Handicap // One Mile and One-Quarter
#1 Independence Hall // Flavien Prat
#2 Maxfield // Florent Geroux
#3 Kiss Today Goodbye // Mike Smith
#4 Coastal Defense // John Velazquez
#5 Express Train // Juan Hernandez
#6 Idol // Joel Rosario
#7 Tizamagician // Drayden Van Dyke
#8 King Guillermo // Abel Cedillo