Handicapping Picks for 01/08/2012

Race #8 - Rating = 2
#2 Mr Gruff - Fair odds 9/5
#6 Regally Ready - Fair odds 2/1
#4 Caracortado - Fair odds 2/1

Exacta: Box 2,4,6

I routinely stake a stand against Breeders’ Cup winners coming back for their first starts of the next year, because they are often not 100% geared up, with a whole year’s worth of races ahead of them the comeback race really not that important, and with others gunning to beat the horse won a Breeders’ Cup race. For that reason I pick Mr Gruff to post the slight upset over Regally Ready, with Mr Gruff a specialist at this 6 ½ furlong downhill turf trip, having won 5 of 6 times he’s raced on it including the similar San Simeon Handicap in 2009 and 2010. He came back from 8 months off in November to win a turf sprint stakes at HOL and can fire a big shot fresh to win again as he did in the fall with Rosario up today as for his last six wins. Regally Ready is probably the best turf sprinter in North American right now, having won 6 of 9 last year including the BC Turf Sprint. He won last year’s San Simeon but did finish 3rd in this Daytona Stakes last year with no excuse so he is beatable, but I wouldn’t leave him off exacta, pick 3 or pick 4 tickets. Caracortado has never sprinted down the hill but that’s his only knock. Fifth in the BC Turf sprint, but beaten just 3 lengths in a 14 horse field, he won the G2 Del Mar Mile prior to that and gets Bejarano for the first time with a sizzling five furlong workout coming into the race screaming he’s ready to run big.
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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.