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HRN Original Blog:
Toasting with Andrew Champagne

San Gabriel Pros and Cons

 

One of the first graded stakes races of the new year, the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita Park may be one of the best betting races of the weekend. Nine horses will go postward Saturday afternoon after the scratches of Black Spirit and Willyconker, including an 8-year-old going for his third San Gabriel victory. Here's a look at the field.

1) Slim Shadey (9/2)

Pros: One of several old pros in this field, Slim Shadey loves Santa Anita. All four of his U.S. victories have come at this track, including three Grade 2 wins.
Cons: None of those victories are recent. He has just one win in the last 15 months and has not finished better than fifth since February.

2) Te Rapa (9/2)

Pros: An ultra-consistent 5-year-old, Te Rapa has hit the board in seven consecutive outings since June, with three victories. His win two back, where he closed from well off a slow pace at Betfair Hollywood Park, was particularly impressive.
Cons: None of the gelding's six victories have come at Santa Anita, where he's mustered just one second and one third in seven tries. Also, he's making his first stakes start after a career that's included several outings in claiming company.

3) Artic North (8-1)

Pros: Both of his tries in graded company may be better than they look. A traditional closer, Artic North went longer than he might have liked in both the Red Smith and Hollywood Turf Cup, and in both races, the Peter Miller trainee had no pace to run at.
Cons: He's still eligible for a non-winners of two other-than allowance, and there's a chance his two off-the-board finishes in graded company mean he's just not a graded stakes-caliber horse.

4) Dubai You X Y Z (3-1)

Pros: The gelding by E Dubai came off the bench running last out, recording his sixth win in 10 lifetime starts last month after seven months on the shelf. He's finished off the board just once, and he owns two wins and a second-place finish in three starts at Santa Anita.
Cons: That off-the-board finish game in his lone try against graded stakes company, the 2012 Shoemaker Mile. That field may have been better than the one he faces today, but the winner of that race was Jeronimo, who lines up today.

5) Fire With Fire (10-1)

Pros: Neil Drysdale's entrant has run in nothing but stakes races since March. The run has included two victories, as well as a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate last out.
Cons: Those two wins came in ungraded stakes races at Santa Rosa and Fresno, and his other two career victories came in the summer of 2011. Additionally, the son of Distorted Humor is winless in eight career starts at Santa Anita.

6) Utopian (12-1)

Pros: We can safely assume he needed his last race. His run in the Lure Stakes this past October was his first since June of 2012, and his worktab since then hasn't been bad. At his best, the graded stakes-winner, who also ran third in the 2012 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, is more than capable.
Cons: This is another horse who may not like Santa Anita. He's 0-for-6 lifetime here, and he might need another race (at least) to recapture his 2012 form.

7) Empty Headed (20-1)

Pros: For a stretch late last year, the son of Unusual Heat got pretty good. A five-start stretch that featured three wins and two second-place finishes included two wins and two seconds at Santa Anita, and he returns to Arcadia after several unsuccessful tries at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Cons: This is a massive class jump for him, and it will be his seventh start since the beginning of October.

9) Jeranimo (5/2)

Pros: This horse has a track record of great success in this race. He won it in 2010 and 2013, and was second in 2012. Most of his 2013 campaign came against Grade 1 competition, and he won one of those races, the Eddie Read at Del Mar.
Cons: It would've been nice to have seen a little more from him since the Eddie Read. He ran ninth in the Pacific Classic, ninth in the Awesome Again, and seventh in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. The class relief here should help, but it's possible he's a bit past his peak, and the outside post doesn't help.

10) Huntsville (10-1)

Pros: Mike Smith hops aboard a gelding cutting back in distance, and both of those things should help him. Four back, he ran a big race at this route, closing into moderate fractions to run second and nose out Te Rapa.
Cons: This is a horse that doesn't like winning. He's winless in his last 18 starts, ever since an allowance at Santa Anita in September of 2012. The post is a killer, and his recent tries in graded company haven't been great.

 

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Older Comments about San Gabriel Pros and Cons...

:) Happiness!
He can if the real Jeranimo shows up. Last few races were kind of weird for him, PC-no, 9f dirt??, down the hill, ran okay, but too much ground to make up in that sprint. This one is just right. Hope he wins it!

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Meet Andrew Champagne

 

A native of upstate New York and a graduate of Ithaca College, Andrew Champagne fell in love with horse racing at a very early age on summer trips to Saratoga. His turf writing credits include time spent as a sportswriter, weekly columnist, and handicapper at The Saratogian, a summer working for The Saratoga Special, and "field research" at OTB facilities in Saratoga Springs and his hometown of Kingston. He also spent two years in the athletic communications office at Siena College, and interned with NBC Olympics at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.


Andrew moved to Pasadena, Calif., in October of 2013, and now serves as an Associate Producer in HRTV's Digital Media department and Horse Racing Nation's Southern California writer. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne, and email him at andrewdchampagne@gmail.com.