WHITE HAS ALL LINES OPEN WITH TWO-YEAR-OLDS
‘BERTIE’ BREEZES, IS POSSIBLE FOR SANTA MARIA
SMITH RIDES HOT ROD CHARLIE IN SALVATOR MILE
WHAT’S MY LINE IS ODDSMAKER’S QUANDARY
A total of 32 two-year-olds have been nominated to next Saturday’s two Fasig-Tipton Stakes, 12 to the $100,000 Debutante for fillies and 20 to the $100,000 Futurity open to both sexes, both at five furlongs.
Only half, or 16, of the nominees have ever raced, seven in the Debutante and nine in the Futurity, so aside from breeding, workouts and connections, how does one make a comprehensive morning line for such races?
That’s the conundrum facing Jon White, Santa Anita’s morning line oddsmaker whose job it is to set a starting price for the wagering public, which he has done with aplomb at The Great Race Place since 2010.
“Making the morning-line odds for two-year-old races generally poses quite a challenge,” White said. “Maiden races, of course, are often tricky, especially when there are first-time starters to deal with. But even stakes races for two-year-olds can be no picnic.
“As for making the morning line for the two two-year-old stakes races coming up at Santa Anita, the process will be the same as it typically is for any two-year-old race. That means starting off by doing a lot of pedigree research, then gauging the workouts, be that by closely examining their workout times on paper or watching videos on XBTV, which can be very time consuming.
“In terms of pedigrees, it’s important to know which sires are hot. Justify is off to an excellent start at stud. American Pharoah has established himself as a terrific sire. The two Triple Crown winners both have a debut winner nominated to next Saturday’s Futurity and Debutante. Tahoma is nominated to the Futurity. He’s by Justify. E Z Pharis, an American Pharoah offspring, is nominated to the Debutante.
“Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is making his mark as a sire. Absolutely Zero, a Nyquist filly who was an impressive winner in her debut, is nominated to both the Debutante and Futurity.
“Bolt d’Oro made quite a splash as a two-year-old a few years ago when he won the Del Mar Futurity and Frontrunner. There’s been something of a Bolt d’Oro buzz at the sales last year and this year. I was talking with trainer Todd Pletcher recently and he told me that he has a number of two-year-olds by Bolt d’Oro that he likes for races back east. Hector Palma has nominated a Bolt d’Oro colt called Pop d’Oro to Saturday’s Futurity here. Pop d’Oro showed early speed and won his debut in April at Turf Paradise.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Stay Thirsty, who has been doing very well at stud here in California. Another two-year-old nominated to next Saturday’s Futurity is Good N Thirsty, who won at first asking here last month.”
“Whenever I’m making the morning line for a two-year-old race, I make sure to pay attention to what they sold for if they’ve gone through the auction ring. I also check to see if the horse was sold at public auction more than once.”
White noted that it’s important to know a trainer’s style when it comes to evaluating workouts.
“Charlie Whittingham was one of the greatest trainers of all time, but he rarely won with a first-time starter,” White said. “Not even Sunday Silence won his first race. Neither did Ferdinand. They both went on to win the Kentucky Derby. On the other hand, Bob Baffert is a trainer with a tremendous success rate with debut runners. Any first-time starter trained by Baffert automatically gets my attention.
“Doug O’Neill, who trained Nyquist, is another trainer on this circuit who has won with a good number of two-year-old first-time starters through the years. I made Sharp Aza Tack 8-1 on the morning line when he debuted in Friday’s first race for O’Neill. I originally had him at 6-1, but ultimately raised him to 8-1 when I just had too many others in the race who I felt deserved to have lower odds than 8-1. I was worried that Sharp Aza Tack might get bet down from the 8-1. But instead of getting bet down, he floated up to 12-1 and won nicely (by 2 ¼ lengths).”
White went on to say that when setting a morning line for a two-year-old stakes race, “the most significant thing, of course, is to look at what they’ve already done in terms of their races. For instance, Tom’s Regret has set the bar pretty darn high off what she’s done so far. Not only did this Cal-bred daughter of Tom’s Tribute annihilate state-breds here in her first start (when an 11 ½-length winner), she then went to Churchill Downs and won a stakes race (the Kentucky Juvenile) against the boys.
“Speed figures invariably play a big role with how the betting in any race is going to shake out. Tom’s Regret got a 79 Beyer Speed Figure in her debut. That’s an excellent figure for a two-year-old at this time of year. Off such a debut fig it wasn’t a shock that she regressed in her second race, getting a 65. But that 65 still was good enough to get the job done when running against the boys (in open company) in a stakes race at Churchill.
“In all cases, what a horse’s odds have been previously carries a lot of weight with me in trying to ascertain what to make that horse on the morning line. Tom’s Regret was a 1-2 favorite in her debut, then a 2-1 favorite in Kentucky. After winning both races no doubt she’ll again attract strong support from the bettors in the Debutante. I’ll probably be making her a pretty short price on the morning line. Just how short will depend on many factors.
“The size of the field is one of the most important factors in determining what kind of price a morning-line favorite is going to be. That’s something a lot of people don’t realize. I’ll give you an example. It’s one thing to make a horse a 6-5 favorite in a small field. But a 6-5 favorite in a field of 11 or 12 or more means that you then are forced to make lots of horses in the race a big price, which can come back to bite a linemaker. The goal is to try and make the favorite as low as possible without making the odds for a bunch of horses in the race ridiculously high.
“I mentioned the significance of speed figures. While there is no doubt that Tom’s Regret is going to get considerable play in the betting for the Debutante, the 76 Beyer that Rousing Jewel received for her debut win (by three lengths) at Golden Gate says that she also merits much respect. Rousing Jewel showed enough in her training to be sent off as a 3-5 favorite. She obviously can run.
“Rousing Jewel is in good hands with veteran trainer Steve Specht. Not only does Specht have Rousing Jewel in the barn, he trains Passarando, who finished second when no match for Rousing Jewel in her Golden Gate maiden race. Rousing Jewel’s debut win was then flattered when Passarando came back to win by daylight (a 4 ¾-length victory at Golden Gate).
“If Tom’s Regret and Rousing Jewel do face each other, it should be very entertaining.”
The Fasig-Tipton juvenile sprints are but two attractive races on closing weekend of Santa Anita’s Winter/Spring campaign.
The Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at 1 1/16 miles also will be featured Saturday.
Three stakes will highlight the closing-day program next Sunday: the $100,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes for fillies and mares three and older at 1 ¼ miles on the hillside turf course; the Grade III American Stakes for three-year-olds and up at a mile on turf; and the 83rd edition of the traditional stakes finale, the Grade III San Juan Capistrano for three-year-olds and up at 1 ¾ miles on the hillside turf course.
CLEVER CLAIM BYE BYE BERTIE EYES SANTA MARIA
Bye Bye Bertie worked four furlongs this morning in 48.40 for a possible start in this Saturday’s Grade II Santa Maria Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at 1 1/16 miles.
The six-year-old mare sired by the Distorted Humor stallion Alternation has been a profitable $40,000 claim by Leonard Powell, who has won five of eight overnight races with her since haltering her at Del Mar last Aug. 22.
Winner of 11 of 25 starts, the versatile Bye Bye Bertie has never won a stakes but has won on turf, dirt, sprinting and routing.
“She worked very well this morning,” said Powell, who won his 17th race of the meet yesterday when Bud Knight captured the fifth race. “We have a couple of options but we’re looking to race her next weekend.
“She’s been a very good addition to the barn.”
Powell, 46, is enjoying his best Santa Anita Winter/Spring meet ever. Currently tied for ninth in the trainer standings, he’s winning at a 25 percent clip.
“I hope it’s not over,” he quipped.
Victor Espinoza, who was aboard when Bye Bye Bertie finished second to Leggs Galore at 8-1 in the restricted Mizdirection Stakes on turf May 21, would retain the mount in the Santa Maria.
FINISH LINES: World-class graded stakes winner Hot Rod Charlie worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 this morning under Hall of Fame veteran Mike Smith for Monmouth Park’s Grade III Salvator Mile on June 18. “He breezed well, and as long as he looks good in the morning and he’s injury-free, the plan is for him to go to New Jersey on Tuesday,” said Doug O’Neill, who trains the hard-hitting son of Oxbow, who has career earnings of more than $5 million. Smith has a one-time commitment to pilot Hot Rod Charlie in the Salvator Mile, as regular rider Flavien Prat has obligations at Belmont Park that day . . . There were 161 recorded works Saturday, including a five-furlong drill in 1:01.20 by Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint champion Ce Ce for Michael McCarthy and a four-furlong move in 47.20 by Runhappy Santa Anita Derby runner-up Messier for Tim Yakteen.
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