2022 Mathis Mile Stakes & more Santa Anita Graded Races

Christmas is here and that means that some fantastic racing is just around the corner. For those looking to spend some time away from the Christmas turkey, this Monday Santa Anita plays host to three super Grade 2 races – the Mathis Mile, San Gabriel Stakes, and the San Antonio Stakes. 

Ahead of what is bound to be a super day of racing here is everything you need to know.

San Antonio Stakes

Grade 2, 1 / 16-mile, dirt, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool $200,000

This year’s San Antonio Stakes has an international flavour to it with superstar European jockey Frankie Dettori starting a ten-week US Stint as he looks to sign off his final season in the saddle in style. 

Dettori will be hoping to start his latest American adventure in grand style as he partners with the reigning Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer

Trained out of the Bob Baffert yard, since Country Grammer’s success in Dubai he has tasted defeat in his next three races, finishing second each time. However, two of these defeats have come at the highest level and his second in the Pacific Classic did come against the all-conquering Flightline which still represents decent form.

As consistent as they come, he will start the contest as the horse to beat. 

Looking to hand Country Grammer a fourth successive defeat will be two of his stablemates Hudson Ridge and Hopkins.

Hudson Ridge hasn’t raced a great deal at this level but did manage to finish second in last season’s La Jolla Handicap and broke his maiden in the Cinema Stakes. He is yet to place in a race of this level and will need to produce one of the best performances of his career if he is to have a say in the outcome of the race. 

Hopkins is likely to start the race as the outsider of the six-runner field. He has had a productive year winning his last two starts in allowance and claiming company. This race represents a huge step up in class and it would be a shock to see him come out on top ahead of several serious rivals. 

John Sadler will be hoping for a little extended Christmas cheer and saddles two in the contest, Heywoods Beach and Breakfast Ride. 

Heywoods Beach will be ridden by the exciting Ramon Vasquez and will be hoping to end his year in style. 

A dual Grade 3 winner this year in the Cougar II Stakes and Tokyo City Cup Stakes, he almost landed the biggest prize of his career when he finished second in the Grade 2 Aftercare Alliance Stakes.

Clearly thriving, he could be the next best option behind Country Grammer.

Whilst Heywoods Beach represents Sadler’s best hope, backers of Breakfast Ride shouldn’t be put off. One of the youngest horses in the field, this will be Breakfast Ride’s first foray into graded company, but he heads into the contest following a taking success last time out. With scope to improve he could be the value angle of the race. 

Rounding out the field is Stilleto Boy who will be taking on Country Grammer for the third successive time. 

Having amassed more than $1,000,000 over the course of his career, Stilleto Boy landed his first graded race when he won the Grade 2 Californian Stakes. Since that victory he has found life at the highest-level tricky, finishing down the the field in the Hollywood Gold Cup and finishing last in the Pacific Classic. 

He has finished behind Country Grammer on both occasions this season, but his connections will be hopeful of turning that form around here. 

San Antonio Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

With the superb Dettori on board Country Grammer, it is hard to look beyond the favourite’s chances. Stilleto Boy is sure to give his running, but he has looked exposed in his last few starts. If you are looking for the upset than Heywoods Beach could be the one to back, but it looks like he has plenty to find.

HorseJockeyOdds by JazzSports
HopkinsJuan J. Hernandez+600
Stilleto BoyMike E. Smith+500
Breakfast RideJoel Rosario+400
Hudson RidgeFlavien Prat+600
Heywoods BeachRamon A. Vazquez+350
Country GrammerLanfranco Dettori+140

Mathis Mile

Grade 2, 1 mile, turf, open to horses aged three. Total prize pool $200,000

The opening race from this Sunday’s Santa Anita card comes in the form of the Mathis Mile. A turf race, raced over a mile, seven horses will head to post in the hope of landing this prestigious prize. 

In recent times this has been a race dominated by the favourites, with favourites winning nine of the last thirteen renewals.

Likely to start as the favourite this year is Balnikhov. 

Trained out of the Phil D’Amato yard and ridden by the excellent Tyler Gaffalione, there is a lot to like about his chances. 

Having mostly raced in graded company this season, Balnikhov won his first graded race when he landed the Grade 3 Bryan Station Stakes. That win was supported by a placed effort in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes. Clearly a horse that is proven at this level, he has also been given the plum draw of gate 1 and should be able to run the race he wants. It looks like it will take something special to beat him.

Vying for favouritism and a horse that certainly has a chance here is I’m A Gambler who will be having his first American start. Formerly trained by one of Britain’s leading most trainers in Mark Johnston, I’m A Gambler arrives in the States having won four of his last five starts – with the highlight being a comfortable success in the Listed Guisborough Stakes.

That form should stack up well with his American counterparts and with plenty of racing under his belt, he is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Rounding out the top three betting looks to be the Richard Mandella trained Sumter. The likely front runner and pace angle of the contest, look for this speedster of a horse to dictate the fractions. He has shown glimpses of quality following a third-place finish in the Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap but could only finish tenth in the Grade 2 Franklin Simpson Stakes.

Look for Sumter to make this a real speed test and if he gets an easy enough time of things up front it could make for interesting viewing.

The value angle of the contest certainly looks to be the Peter Millar trained Handy Dandy. The excellent Joel Rosario will take the ride and although he is likely to jump at a large price, he certainly isn’t without a hope. Handy Dandy is yet to win at a graded stakes level but heads to Santa Anita following a 4th place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby which supplemented another 4th place finish in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby. He certainly has the class to compete here.

Rounding out the field are Time To Party, One More Bid and Agatino, all are likely to start as double figure prices and might be best watched on this occasion.

Mathis Mile Odds & Betting Pick

An exciting race looks set to open this Sunday’s card and this is a race that could go one of several different directions. Balnikhov, was very impressive last time out but does rely on a closing kick of speed and his rivals will know that is exactly how he will want the race to pan out. If he has settled into his new American life, a real case can be made for I’m A Gambler.

An experienced horse, he has won plenty of races in his young career and could get his new life under Mark Glatt off to the perfect start.

HorseJockeyOdds by JazzSports
Balnikhov (IRE)Tyler Gaffalione+200
One More BidRamon A. Vazquez+1000
I’m A Gambler (IRE)Flavien Prat+250
Time to PartyJoe Bravo+800
Agatino (IRE)Umberto Rispoli+1500
Handy DandyJoel Rosario+500
SumterMike E. Smith+300

San Gabriel Stakes

Grade 2, 1-mile 1/8, turf, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool $200,000

The final race in our preview comes in the form of the San Gabriel Stakes. Raced at just over an extended mile, seven horses will canter down to post for this year’s renewal.

In what looks a tough contest to call, the favourite looks to be Masteroffoxhounds who is trained out of the Phil D’Amato barn and will have the services of the legendary Mike Smith to call upon.

A five-year-old, Masteroffoxhounds has run twelve times in graded stakes company and has won on two occasions. One of these victories came just a few months ago when he narrowly won the Grade 2 John Henry Stakes. He was victorious by just over a neck, so it wasn’t convincing, however his subsequent defeat in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit was certainly one of the best runs of his career. Beaten by just a neck by the excellent Hong Kong Harry, a repeat of that performance will see him go close.

Masteroffoxhounds in winning the John Henry, was just able to stave off the fast-finishing Dicey Mo Charra and the Leonard Powell trained horse looks set to take him on again. Dicey Mo Charra has never won at this level but does have two seconds and two third place finishes in his eight career graded stakes races. Certain to give his running, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Dicey Mo Charra emerge on top this time around.

The biggest danger to Masteroffoxhounds could well be his stablemate, Prince Abama. Speaking ahead of the race D’Amato confessed that the majority of Prince Abama’s runs have been over too short a distance and the horse clearly wanted to go further. 

That theory was proven right as when stepped up to a mile and four furlongs, Prince Abama ran out a convincing winner of the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes. That performance provides some of the best form in this race and although he is being dropped back slightly in trip, D’Amato expects his charge to run another big race.

The most interesting runner in the field comes in the form of Flashiest. The second runner in the field for Leonard Powell, Flashiest was supplemented into this race at the cost of $4,000. Whether Powell has seen improvement of the horse at home, or whether he has been added to help boost Dicey Mo Charra’s chances and run as a pacemaker remains to be seen.

Bob And Jackie returns to Santa Anita in the hope of winning this race for the second consecutive year. Last year Bob And Jackie only had to beat three other horses and only prevailed by a nose. It’s been clear from trainer George Papaprodromou that this has been the horses main target for the year as we haven’t seen Bob And Jackie since March. However, he did finish second in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes back in January and although he might have fitness to prove, he certainly must be respected.

San Gabriel Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

In what looks like the toughest race of the day to predict, a tentative vote is given to Masteroffoxhounds. Clearly in great form, his narrow defeat in the Seabiscuit Stakes last time out was against some top performers and if he can repeat anything like that here he will be the horse to beat.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the main danger were to come from Masteroffoxhounds stablemate Prince Amata, but whether the shorter distance will be to his liking remains to be seen.

HorseJockeyOdds by JazzSports
Rip CityEdwin A. Maldonado+1000
MasteroffoxhoundsMike E. Smith+200
Dicey Mo Chara (GB)Juan J. Hernandez+300
Go OnMario Gutierrez+1000
Bob and JackieJose Valdivia, Jr.+600
Prince Abama (IRE)Flavien Prat+250
FlashiestJoel Rosario+1000

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