California Cup Derby Odds and more races from Santa Anita

Santa Anita on Saturday is a stage for the local talent, with a card full of state-bred races featuring the three prestigious California Cup Derby contests. The Derby brings together old rivals in Straight Up G and Finneus, the Oaks is led by the unbeaten Professors’ Pride, who tries turf for the first time, and last year’s Sprint winner Brickyard Ride is back bidding to retain his crown.

California Cup Derby

There is only one way to approach the California Cup Derby, arguably the highlight of a state-bred stakes-heavy card at Santa Anita on Saturday, and the path leads from Los Alamitos a month ago when today’s principals filled out the trifecta in a stakes over a mile.

On that occasion, Straight Up G led at every call, taking his record to two-for-three with a dominant display of front-running, shrugging off his rivals in mid-stretch and rolling home to win by three and a half lengths from Finneus , who chased him all the way down the lane but couldn’t land a blow, and who had a length and three-quarters to spare over Fast Draw Munnings in third.

Will it be the same result today? That was Finneus’s seventh start, and although he is Grade 1-placed he’s better judged on that Los Alamitos run and on his previous effort, when he came on late and strong to win another state-bred stakes over seven furlongs at Del Mar, with Fast Draw Munnings a length and a quarter back in third.

Those two races suggest that Finneus has the measure of Fast Draw Munnings, but can he flip the form with Straight Up G on 4lb better terms? Straight Up G, with only three runs to his name, has much greater scope for improvement than his rival, and his freewheeling tactics may leave the late-closing Finneus running out of track again.

Those three are the race. Highland Ghost won an allowance optional claimer at Golden Gate Fields on New Year’s Eve, but he’s been off the board in his two runs in stakes and seems at home in sprints. Sippin N Kissin is a seven-race maiden and Agador Spartacus is an eight-race maiden; enough said there.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Highland GhostFlavien Prat+500
Sippin N KissinAbel Cedillo+2000
Fast Draw MunningsDrayden Van Dyke+400
FinneusJohn R. Velazquez+250
Straight Up GRicardo Gonzalez-125
Agador SpartacusTyler Baze+2000

Our Betting Prediction The California Cup Derby is basically the same race as the Los Alamitos stakes won by STRAIGHT UP G last month, and that improving colt is the choice to repeat the dose.

California Cup Sprint

Form is temporary, class is permanent, so recent results may not be the best guide to the California Cup Sprint, in which last year’s winner Brickyard Ride returns to defend his title.

Twelve months ago he ran them out of town, leading at every call and clearing away to win by three and a quarter lengths, with Loud Mouth a length and three-quarters further back in fourth and Peaceful Transfer a well-beaten ninth. Brickyard Ride then improved on that excellent performance when winning the Grade 2 San Carlos by four lengths here over seven furlongs, and later went gate-to-wire in a stakes over course and distance, giving Colt Fiction 2lb and a four-and-three-quarter-length beating, with Loud Mouth back in fourth.

His last two starts – in a Grade 1 and a Grade 2 at Del Mar – were admittedly below par, but Brickyard Ride has had a long layoff since then, and should be ready to utilise his dazzling early pace on his return to a track where he is eight-for-12 lifetime.

His three main rivals on the mutuel met in a seven-furlong stakes at Del Mar in November, when longshot Principe Carlo rallied very gamely to pip Positivity by a nose, with Colt Fiction a neck back in third. All three horses ran something close to a lifetime best, which suggests that the form is solid, although on a strict line through Colt Fiction they are all playing catch-up against Brickyard Ride.

The lightly raced Rifey makes his stakes debut, while Letsgetlucky is zero-for-two in stakes, although he has never been off the board in his life and may appeal to exotics players.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
RifeyTyler Baze+1500
Peaceful TransferEdwin A. Maldonado+1200
Brickyard RideJuan J. Hernandez+180
PositivityFlavien Prat+300
Loud MouthVictor Espinoza+1000
LetsgetluckyDrayden Van Dyke+1200
Principe CarloKent J. Desormeaux+600
Colt FictionJohn R. Velazquez+300

Our Top Pick for California Cup Sprint is BRICKYARD RIDE loves this track and the Grade 2 winner’s exceptional early pace makes him the clear choice to score again.

California Cup Oaks

A big field doesn’t always mean a competitive contest, as the California Cup Oaks demonstrates. Only four of the dozen runners are at single-figure odds on the morning-line, which clarifies the picture for bettors.

The odds-makers’ choice is Professors’ Pride, unbeaten in two and conqueror of several of today’s rivals in a stakes over a mile on the main track at Los Alamitos last month, when she led at every call and drew off in the stretch to win by three lengths from Big Novel, who was never nearer than at the wire. Further back were third-place longshot and seven-race maiden Madiha , Dendera in fifth and Munny Penny a long last of eight.

Now Professors’ Pride goes on the weeds for the first time, which raises a question, but she is moving up fast and may take the surface switch in her stride. Big Novel had previously finished six and a half lengths clear of Vivacious Vanessa when they were second and third in a stakes over seven furlongs at Del Mar in November, with Madiha fifth.

However, Vivacious Vanessa was a winner over course and distance on turf on her debut – beating Precious Insight by a length and a half – and that experience, allied to the step back up in distance, makes her a point of serious interest, especially as Precious Insight franked the form with a Del Mar maiden win from La Deuxieme Etoile next time out.

The remaining single-figure contender is Rose Dawson, who looked good when winning by four lengths on debut in a Los Alamitos main-track sprint, but now stretches out on a new surface up in grade, a trifecta of unknowns that make her odds look plenty short enough. Conversely, Golden Gate Fields stakes winners Ellamira and Vaping Angel may be over-priced, especially the latter, a winner over a mile on turf.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
Big NovelJohn R. Velazquez+400
EllamiraTyler Baze+2000
Vivacious VanessaJuan J. Hernandez+400
Munny PennyAbel Cedillo+3000
MadihaKyle Frey+2000
EleutheraMario Gutierrez+1500
Professors’ PrideUmberto Rispoli+250
DenderaKent J. Desormeaux+1200
Precious InsightVictor Espinoza+2000
La Deuxieme EtoileJoe Bravo+2000
Rose DawsonFlavien Prat+350
Vaping AngelMike E. Smith+1500

Betting Prediction  Professors’ Pride has impressed but switches surface in the California Cup Oaks, so the turf experience of stakes-placed VIVACIOUS VANESSAmay give her an edge

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