Handicapping Picks for 04/07/2012

Race #6 - Rating = 1
#1 Creative Cause - Fair odds 7/5
#8 Midnight Transfer - Fair odds 3/1
#4 I'll Have Another - Fair odds 3/1
#5 Longview Drive - Fair odds 9/2

Exactas: 1 over 4,5,8 and (reverse) 4,5,8 over 1

Anyone that has read my analysis since last summer in two-year-old races knows Creative Cause has been my top Derby contender since he won the Best Pal Stakes in the second start of his career last August. After a third place BC Juvenile Effort (with a then career best 110 Equibase Speed Figure) he rested for three and one-half months, came back to finish third in a seven furlong prep then showed his stuff once again winning the San Felipe Stakes last month, earning a new career best 110 Equibase Speed Figure. He also showed he’s still a bit unsure of what he’s supposed to do as he drifted around (didn’t run entirely straight) in the stretch. As such, trainer Mike Harrington is experimenting TODAY by taking blinkers off in an effort to get him to run more professionally, rather than do so in the Kentucky Derby in a month, and that makes perfect sense. Considering Creative Cause should adore the added distance today as he tries a mile and one-eighth for the first time and with none of the other runners in this field within five speed figure points (about three lengths) of him at this stage, Creative Cause appears ready to prove he is one of the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Midnight Transfer was third at the top of the stretch in the San Felipe and third at the wire, making no ground on either winner Creative Cause or runner-up Bodemeister. However, that was his first start in a two-turn race and so there is potential to move forward off the experience. Prior to the San Felipe, Midnight Transfer won the non-graded San Pedro stakes with a 100 figure, so the improvement to 105 in the San Felipe suggests there is more than meets the eye for this well bred son of Hard Spun, who has worked sensationally in the morning at Santa Anita in preparation for this race. With a jockey change to Hall-of-Fame jockey Mike Smith, Midnight Transfer could certainly outrun his high odds today and help us to make a profit in this race by combining for the exacta with Creative Cause.

I’ll Have Another posted the 43 to 1 upset in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis stakes on February 4 here at Santa Anita and hasn’t been seen since. He had proven himself a top caliber two-year-old last year when second to Creative Cause in the Best Pal Stakes, but his try when shipped east and finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last September was disappointing at best. Having recovered top form in the Lewis, I’ll Have Another is not without a look at the outcome in the Santa Anita Derby, although his 101 figure effort in the Lewis means he will have to improve significantly to compete with Creative Cause in this situation.

Longview Drive ran pretty well in his three-year-old debut when third in the Grade 3 Sham behind Out of Bounds (since off the Derby trail with an injury) and Secret Circle, who recently won the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes. However, shipping to Oaklawn Park for one of the divisions of the Southwest Stakes and sent to post as the favorite, Longview Drive was very disappointing in finishing sixth with no excuse. However, back in California and perhaps most importantly, reunited with Russell Baze, the winningest jockey in North American history, who rode the colt to three straight wins including one in a two-turn stakes last October, Longview Drive has a chance to redeem himself with a competitive effort.

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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.