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)
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)
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
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.
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
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.
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)
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
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.