Handicapping Picks for 03/04/2012

Race #8 - Rating = 2
#3 Pressday - Fair odds 1/1
#9 Mensa Heat - Fair odds 3/1
#2 Mr Gruff - Fair odds 3/1

Exactas: Box 3,2 Box 3,9 Box 2,3,9

Pressday was a bit short of 100% when making his U.S. debut after 5 months off on 2/9, missing by a neck in a highly rated race down this hillside turf course. Winner of the very significant Group 1 T J Smith Stakes in 2010 in Australia and winner of nearly ¾ of a million down under, he came to the U.S. to run on Lasix as he had bled in his last start in Australia and had he bled again he would have been banned for life. With a lot of improvement expected in his 2nd start off the rest, Pressday should win this race and continue to progress, hopefully staying healthy for a go at the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Santa Anita and at this trip.

Mensa Heat, like Pressday, will benefit from a likely sizzling early pace battle between Chosen Miracle, Gig Harbor and Ain’t No Other, which could produce something on the order of a half mile split of :43 flat. Mensa Heat won a Cal-Bred Stakes one before last and drops after being overmatched (although 3rd) in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes, his last 4 turf sprint tries all good ones with either 1st or 2nd place finishes, so he could easily be rolling into the exacta today at the least.

Mr Gruff is 5 for 7 in his career down this specialist’s hillside course, the most recent of those wins coming in April, 2010, in the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap. Rested for 8 months after a failed trip to Dubai last year, Mr. Gruff came back to win a listed stakes like this one in November, then finished 3rd after leading from the start in the G3 Daytona Stakes in January. Although his most recent win came on the front end, he has won from off the pace, under Rosario, who rides today, and with so much other heat in the field it’s likely Joel will take him just off the pace from which he could prove tough in the late stages.

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You can get my selections and analysis for the entire Santa Anita card at www.equibase.com, www.trackmaster.com as well as at the Xpressbet, Twinspires, Keeneland Select and TVG handicapping stores.