Santa Anita Weekend Review

Santa Anita Weekend Review
Photo: Benoit Photo

The first weekend of May is widely known for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, as well as the respective undercards at Churchill Downs, but it was business as usual in Arcadia, California this weekend despite the focus being in Louisville. 

The Grade III Precisionist Stakes headlined Saturday’s 11-race card. The event for three-year olds an upward was run at a mile and a sixteenth over the main track and attracted a field of 8 after the scratch of Peter Miller trained Appealing Tale. The pace was honest early, which rewarded the patience of jockey Flavien Prat. Prat gave a beautiful mid pack ride to eventual winner Catch A Flight to take the lion's share of the $100.000 purse.  The five-year old son of Giant’s Causeway went off the 7-5 favorite and held off a strong run from four-year old Sammy Mandeville and veteran rider Alex Solis.  Motown Men completed the trifecta that paid $110.40 on a $2 wager.

The $75,000 Desert Code Stakes was also run on Saturday. Named for the long shot winner of the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, the event, run at six and a half furlongs for three-year olds, saw a field of 7 go to the post.  9-5-favorite Richard’s Boy ran down Patrick Biancone trained Diamond Majesty to capture his first stakes victory in a time of 1:14.61.  Diamond Majesty nearly gave them “the slip” in another excellent ride from Flavien Prat, but could not get to the wire in time. The Bob Hess, Jr conditioned Perfectly Majestic came with a strong late run to finish a hard charging third.

The Grade II Honeymoon Handicap run at a mile and an eighth over the beautiful Santa Anita turf course headlined Sunday’s card.  A field of 9 three-year old fillies broke from the gate for the purse of $200,000.  The pace was strong as they went 110.4 for six furlongs setting things up for Spanish Queen. The California-bred daughter of Tribal Rule looked like a winner every step of the way and appears to have a nice future ahead of her for conditioner Richard Baltas.  Doug O’ Neill trained Sharla Rae ran a solid second at 48-1 and Spirit of Xian closed out the trifecta at 7-2.  The winner paid $8.00, $4.60 and $3.80. Brice Blanc got the win with a ground saving ride on the three-year old filly. 

One of the day’s highlights was a standing ovation given by the Southern California crowd, after Kentucky Derby winning jockey Victor Espinoza won aboard Two Taps in the day’s third race.  Saturday marked Espinoza’s second consecutive win in the “Run for the Roses” with the first place effort aboard American Pharoah, and may have stamped his induction into the Hall of Fame. It was a truly great moment. 

 

 MEET SCOTT SHAPIRO

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Scott has been a fan of handicapping and following thoroughbred racing since Garden State Park was rebuilt in Cherry Hill, NJ in 1985.  His first memories of the racetrack include the 1985 Jersey Derby won by Spend a Buck and the 1990 Met Mile clash between Easy Goer, Criminal Type and Housebuster, but it was not until his mid to late twenties that Scott became confident he had a knack for picking winners. He points to the summer of 2007 in San Diego while working on a masters degree in American History as the time where he took his handicapping, his communication skills, and his attention to detail to the next level.  It was at this time where he had his first real big score.   He had four of only five winning combinations in the now extinct “Place Pick All” on a $8 ticket netting himself $40,000. 

A few months after hitting a monster pick five at Santa Anita Park in February of 2013, Scott started his website, www.shapperdacapper.com showcasing his and other experts' selections, as well as analysis and commentary on North American racing. From there, he began writing a weekly column for www.danonymousracing.com called "Race of the Week" and soon thereafter started writing for Horse Racing Nation. Currently, he is Horse Racing Nation's Southern California Racing Correspondent and can be found most days at Santa Anita Park or Del Mar Race Course.

Scott loves playing in horse racing tournaments and constructing pick four and pick five tickets.  His favorite all-time horses are Captain Bodgit, A.P. Indy, Fly So Free and Charismatic. He has lived in multiple states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Colorado before returning to Southern California in the middle of 2015 to start "Shapper Da California Capper." 

 

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