#7 Creative Cause (KY) – Coming up with a top choice in this race is almost impossible, but I ended up on Creative Cause. Every horse in this race has a major question to answer, but I feel like Creative Cause’s answer could be the easiest of all. Can he rebound from a third place effort in his last performance? The answer is most likely yes. The distance in the San Vicente didn’t suit him well, and it’s not like he ran a bad third. He was flying late, and galloped out passed all the other horses. Plus the Breeders Cup Juvenile has produced two good three-year olds in Hansen and Union Rags, and Creative Cause wasn’t too far off them in that race. All signs point to a big effort, which is exactly what it’s going to take to beat this field.
#2 Bodemeister (VA) – I wanted to pick this horse as my top selection, but just could not pull the trigger. Bodemeister’s maiden win was the most impressive I’ve seen this year. His big question though is a tough one: Can he go from a maiden victory all the way to winning a Grade 2 stakes? Harder to answer than Creative Cause’s question in my opinion. Still, I think the race sets up for him to have a real chance. There isn’t a whole lot of speed in this one, so Bodemeister might be able to get out in front and set fractions that are comfortable to him. Look for him to be near the lead, and still be running well when they turn for home.
#1 Blingo (KY) – Blingo’s got a two-part question. Can he overcome a lack of experience, and can he overcome what might be an average to slow pace? Santa Anita’s dirt track can sometimes favor speed, so Blingo isn’t as attractive to me as Bodemeister. Still, I think this is a really talented, and up and coming horse. John Shirreffs has admitted that Blingo was kind of a “goof ball” in his younger days, but believes the colt is more focused than ever. He’s got a great jockey in Mike Smith as well, so it would be no surprise if Blingo crossed the wire first.
#10 Empire Way (KY) – Many racing analysts have Empire Way on their sleeper or dark horse lists, and I can understand why. Long distances aren’t going to be the a problem for this horse, in fact a mile and one-sixteenth may even be too short. He was a fast closing second and the Robert B Lewis, and he looked like he had plenty left in the tank when he hit the wire. His question mark is a lot like Blingo’s though. Will there be enough pace for him to run into?
#6 Liaison (KY) – I have never been a big fan of this horse, and his last race made me like him even less. Liaison clipped heals with another horse in the Robert B. Lewis, and lost the rider. However, there was no question that Liaison was clearly beat long before the clipped heels and lost rider part happened. Can Liaison bounce back from all this drama? He probably will run a better race, but I believe he is a bit out-classed in this spot.
#8 Rousing Sermon (CA) – Rousing Sermon’s question mark is one that will most likely end his bid for the triple crown after this race. Is he good enough to compete with the elite horses? I think the answer is no, although I don’t think you can leave him off your exotic ticket. He always tries hard and his efforts have been consistent, but he may lack the talent it takes to cut it against these monsters.
#3 American Act (KY) – He lands in the “party crashers” category mainly because he is one of the horses that can show speed. If for some reason Bodemeister fails to be near the lead, it’s not out of the question that American Act could be the lone speed. Anytime that happens, and a horse can get a comfortable lead, it’s dangerous. I don’t think he’s good enough, but strictly from a pace standpoint he’s worth a look.
#4 Midnight Transfer (KY) – The horse has won two races in a row at Santa Anita, so you have to give him a look. The first one was a maiden that he easily won, and the second was an ungraded stakes that he won by a head. He’ll have to step up big time in this one, but if you like playing prices he’s a logical pick.
#5 Groovin’ Solo (KY) – He’s starting to come on a little bit, but I simply think the others out-class him here. I definitely think that he prefers the Santa Anita surface over the other California tracks, and against softer competition he could do some damage.
#9 Tiz Point (KY) – It looks to me as if they are just taking a chance with this one. He did win his last races, but it was an allowance race on the turf. Tough to imagine him coming out of that race and winning the San Felipe next time out.