Last week at Santa Anita we saw a large upset in the Race of the Week as 25-1 Mongolian Groom bested McKinzie in a small field of 6. Now for the second week in a row the Race of the Week is at Santa Anita Park. This week it will be the Grade 2 City of Hope Stakes. This week’s race has a field of 11 going 1 mile on the Santa Anita turf course. The City of Hope is race 8 on Santa Anita’s Saturday card, and the race itself features 7 graded stakes winning horses. The winner may not be 25-1 like last week, but there should be good value to choose from in the City of Hope.
Fastest Winning Time: 1:31:84 by No Jet Lag in 2013
Most Wins: No owner or horse has ever won this race more than once.
Most Wins by Jockey: Gary Stevens – 4 wins. His first win came in 1986, and he was victorious in the 2018 edition.
Most wins by a trainer: 6 by Neil Drysdale.
The 2018 City of Hope was won by Sharp Samurai. Jockey Gary Stevens has won this race 4 times over the course of 22 years. He rode Sharp Samurai home for trainer Mark Glatt which was his first win in this race. City of Hope went off as the favorite, and won a very exciting race beating Fly to Mars by a nose right on the line. Ohio, who has drawn the rail in the 2019 race, finished a distant 3rd in 2018.
The second weekend of the Santa Anita autumn meet brings another round of Breeders’ Cup preps toward the Nov. 1-2 championships at The Great Race Place. The City of Hope Mile matches BC Mile hopefuls and headlines a 10-race card that also includes the LA Woman (F&M Sprint division) and Santa Anita Sprint Championship (Sprint). The latter offers an awesome matchup of Shancelot vs. Omaha Beach, but the City of Hope Mile clearly will be the day’s best betting race among the stakes.
OHIO and BOLO have won at the G1 level on the west coast. CATAPULT is a G2 winner and runner-up in last year’s G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile. RIVER BOYNE is a multiple G2 winner and G1-placed. SYNCHRONY is a G2 winner from the east/midwest. BIG SCORE is a G3 winner and G1-placed. PRINCE EARL has won at the G2 level, while KINGLY is a G3 winner. This is a very representative field for a G2 and not easily won on a class rise.
BOLO has been forward in all 3 races since his return and drawn wide in post 11 likely will be hustled from the gate. KINGLY has plenty of speed from the Baffert program. OHIO should press the pace from the rail, and RESTRAINEDVENGEANCE should be in a similar, pressing position. The pace looks fair to most running styles.
The west coast turf division has taken turns beating one another this year, particularly in the mile ranks. Former claimer OHIO made the class rise to win March’s G1 Kilroe Mile at 9-1. BOLO, back after a 2-year hiatus, upset the G1 Shoemaker Mile at 32-1 in May. PRINCE EARLY returned from a 9-month layoff and won the G2 Del Mar Mile at a tick under 10-1. Three races with 3 improbable winners and not a clear-cut division leader has made Saturday’s handicapping chore somewhat more of a guessing game than normal.
Such indecisiveness could lead a handicapper to SYNCHRONY as the fresh face. Trainer Mike Stidham brought him west last winter to Del Mar and he was left with too much to do in traffic when the beaten favorite in the G2 Seabiscuit. This is an east-coast closer, and when you couple that with west-coast speed, it’s plausible SYNCHRONY could be out-footed again. Can Joe Talamo navigate the trip? It’s a big ask on a horse that typically is well-backed by the public and will be again.
CATAPULT has lost all 4 starts this year, but was a good fourth in the Pegasus World Cup Turf to superstar Bricks and Mortar, and dropped a nose decision upon his return west in the Kilroe Mile. He was closer to the pace than usual last out in the G2 Eddie Read over 1-1/8 miles and lost oomph late. He’s back at his preferred mile trip and there’s enough pace in here that he should not get sucked into the early mix. In fact, he should get first run on the closers, and I tab him the horse to beat.
PRINCE EARL should vie for favoritism given the red-hot nature of the Phil D’Amato barn to open the Santa Anita stand, as well as his Del Mar Mile win’s recent nature. Of all the last-out winners in this race, his victory seems the most reputable and translatable Saturday. PRINCE EARL has won 3 of 5 starts and hasn’t misfired to date. But he picks up 9 pounds and you’re not seeing anywhere near 9-1. That’s tough to embrace from a value standpoint.
BOLO has done his best running at Santa Anita, but at age 7, it’s fair to wonder if he fired his big shot in the Shoemaker in May. He’s run poor races at Del mar in the past, so perhaps it was the course in the Del Mar Mile when no match late for PRINCE EARL. But post 11 will force him to run a bit harder early, and you often pay the price for that in the final furlong.
Exotics Contender: CATAPULT
is 8-12 in the exacta over the mile distance he appreciates most. He should get
a great pace set-up.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender: RIVER BOYNE is Mr. Consistent. He loves Santa Anita with a 6-for-9 record locally and he’s been in the superfecta in 10 straight starts and 16 of 18 lifetime. With Flavien Prat out of town, Ruben Fuentes picks up the mount, which should increase his price. He’s fresh off a May layoff.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $100 win CATAPULT.