It’s a quietish afternoon for Graded action but there should still be fireworks at Santa Anita today, when speed dominates the schedule. The progressive Spirit Of Makena and the front-running Forbidden Kingdom renew rivalry in the feature G2 2023 Triple Bend, while hillside track specialist Whatmakessammyrun brings the class to the G3 Daytona against fellow hillside winner Burnin Turf.
Triple Bend Stakes
G2, $200,000, 7f dirt, 4yo+, 4.44pm PT
An intriguing and stakes-heavy Memorial Day weekend at Santa Anita gets under way today, with two old rivals set for a reunion in the feature Triple Bend.
We’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Spirit Of Makena (8-5) since he made a successful stakes debut on just his fourth start, after being unraced at two and three. He was certainly ready to make up for lost time in the G3 San Carlos over course and distance in early March, when he stalked the pace of Forbidden Kingdom (5-2) before pouncing and asserting, keeping up the gallop to score by a convincing length and a half.
The same scenario is likely to prevail today, with Forbidden Kingdom sure to be the pace angle again. Although he hasn’t won since taking the G2 San Felipe here in March 2022 when he was still a Kentucky Derby contender, he showed on his last two starts that he was returning to something like his best.
Forbidden Kingdom was runner-up in the G1 Malibu over course and distance and then backed that up in the San Carlos – but will he just be a moving target for Spirit Of Makena, who almost certainly has improvement in store given his inexperience, to run down?
Spirit Of Makena’s new barnmate Howbeit (5-1), fourth in the San Carlos, a length and a half further back, was claimed after finishing a flat fourth in an allowance here over six furlongs last month, and has been gelded since that start.
That could spark improvement, and he showed what he could do when beating CZ Rocket (3-1) by a nose in the G2 Sprint Championship here over six furlongs last October, although that seems his preferred distance and the extra yardage today may not be a positive.
CZ Rocket has twice been runner-up in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but has only won once in his last 13 starts – an allowance at Del Mar – and age is taking the edge off his ability. He was put in his place by the talented Dr Schivel in a three-horse allowance here over six furlongs two weeks ago, and the quick turnaround is another concern.
Positivity (15-1) showed a little spark when third in the G3 Kona Gold here over six and a half furlongs on his return from 13 months on the sidelines, and although he’ll need more now he looks overpriced at his longshot odds.
It’s a surprise to see Midnight Mammoth (6-1) here, cutting right back to sprinting after running a good third in the G2 Californian here over a mile-eighth. He likes to lead but probably won’t have the pace against these rivals early or late, while Desmond Doss (12-1) won a couple of state-bred stakes last year but could be out of his depth in this much better company.
Triple Bend Stakes Odds & Betting Pick
|Horse||Jockey||Odds by Jazzsports|
|Midnight Mammoth||Kyle Frey||+600|
|Desmond Doss||Umberto Rispoli||+1200|
|Positivity||Tiago Josue Pereira||+1500|
|Forbidden Kingdom||Juan J. Hernandez||+250|
|Howbeit||Mike E. Smith||+500|
|Spirit of Makena||Joe Bravo||+160|
|C Z Rocket||Ramon A. Vazquez||+300|
This could be deja vu, with SPIRIT OF MAKENA open to plenty of improvement and looking set to repeat his defeat of Forbidden Kingdom given an identical pace set-up.
G3, $100,000, 6 1/2f turf, 4yo+, 4.14pm PT
The quirky hillside turf track at Santa Anita is not for every horse, with its contours often a shock to the system for those accustomed to the usual oval. Some like it just fine, though, and the Daytona showcases the talents of one of these downhill racers.
The horse in the frame is Whatmakessammyrun (9-5), winner of the G2 Eddie D over course and distance in October and back to his best in a stakes on the same stage last time out. He showed tenacity and heart to get up close home and win by a head, with Indian Peak (5-1) a fading third, beaten two lengths and taking his losing streak to ten, and Burnin Turf (5-2) fourth, a length and a quarter further back when making little show.
Whatmakessammyrun’s form in between those two victories reads well in this company and horses for courses is a potent weapon for bettors, although that could also apply to Burnin Turf, who was third in this race 12 months ago and won twice over course and distance in the lead-up. He is not in the same form this time, though, and has yet to make it pay in stakes grade.
The pace is likely to come from Fast Buck (5-2), who lived up to his name when sizzling gate-to-wire to take a six-furlong allowance on the conventional turf oval three weeks ago. However, he has been beaten on both his starts on the downhill turf track, both times when unable to lead, and this represents a class hike into the bargain.
If it’s about the track, then it doesn’t look good for him. If it’s about the lead, then he has a good shot as he could be allowed his own way out there.
Stakes debutant Lovesick Blues (6-1) merits the class rise after two allowance wins over course and distance on the main track oval, although the surface switch throws another variable into the mix and that’s two big questions for him to answer.
The veteran Restrainedvengence (12-1) has a poor record at this level – he’s one-for-18 in Graded company – and also has a nine-month absence to contend with, making him tough to like, while the French import Prince Lancelot (8-1) is set a stiff task on his debut Stateside.
He was a stakes winner at Chantilly over six furlongs in May 2022 and showed fair ability without hitting the board in G3s after that, but his best form has been on soft turf and it’s possible that he might need this race to find his feet.
Daytona Stakes Odds & Betting Predictions
|Horse||Jockey||Odds by Jazzsports|
|Indian Peak||Juan J. Hernandez||+500|
|Lovesick Blues||Umberto Rispoli||+600|
|Fast Buck||Hector Isaac Berrios||+250|
|Prince Lancelot (GB)||Diego A. Herrera||+800|
|Burnin Turf||Drayden Van Dyke||+250|
This could be straightforward for WHATMAKESSAMMYRUN, who likes this unorthodox downhill track and has a distinct class edge over his main market rivals.
Raise your winning chances, with our Horse Betting Guide. We have a guide for all levels!
Follow us on Social Media for instant 2023 Triple Bend & Daytona Stakes updates!