OffTrackBetting.com - The Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap comes our way from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on Saturday, March 12. A purse of $1 million will be on the line for horses four years old and upward willing to go 1 1/4 miles on Santa Anita's dirt track.
A field of nine have been entered in the Big Cap - race 10 on Santa Anita's busy Saturday schedule. Post time is 4:30 PM. Let's take a glance into the past performances of all nine entries for this lucrative and prestigious Grade 1 stakes.
2016 Santa Anita Handicap Race Preview
Effinex 2-1 - Eclipse Award finalist for Older Male had eight starts last year for trainer James Jerkins - four wins - the Grade 1 Clark Handicap November 11, the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park July 4, the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct in April and an Allowance Optional Claiming in March. He also had a very good runner-up finish behind some horse named America Pharoah in the Breeders' Cup Classic October 31 and a third in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup October 3 with a DNF in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational and a fourth in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes sprinkled in there. He now has seven wine, two seconds and three third place finishes in 20 career starts and has been in every race the last seven months. He tries for his second straight Grade 1 score in his first start at Santa Anita Saturday - from post 5 with Mike Smith guiding the 123 pound highweight and morning line favorite.
Imperative 3-1 - finished second behind Dortmund in the 2015 Grade 2 Charles Town Classic in April (a race he won in 2014) but didn't looked great after that. He's been OK in his last three starts however - a good second last time out - a nose behind Hoppertunity in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes here February 6 followed a second in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes on this track January 9 and another OK second in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar November 28. Before those results was a fourth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes here September 26 and a fifth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic in August. Imperative has hit the board in his last three overall after an unflattering stretch and looks for his first ever Grade 1 score - his first win overall since April, 2014. Jockey Sergio Gonzalez will try to snap a streak of second-itis Saturday from gate 8 as the morning line co-second choice.
Donworth 3-1 - Doug O'Neill trained colt has five career starts with two wins, a second and two third place finishes. Last time out was a respectable third in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes here February 6 after a good win by 11 lengths in the minor Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park way back on June 20, a third in the minor Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico in May, a second in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes in April and a win at first asking in March. Donworth has been in every race so far in his career and hopes to continue that trend from post 3 with Mario Gutierrez in the saddle of the co-second choice.
General a Rod 4-1 - Todd Pletcher trainee raced all three legs of the 2014 Kentucky Derby finishing seventh in the Belmont, an OK fourth in the Preakness and eleventh in the Kentucky Derby. He recorded a third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby of that year March 29, a second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and a win in the minor Gulfstream Park Derby in his third career start prior to the Derby. He has been up and down since - an Allowance Optional Claiming score last time out January 28 at Gulfstream followed a sixth in a similar race December 31, an eleventh in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes June 6 and a somewhat disappointing fifth in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic April 18. General A Rod now has four wins, two seconds and a third place finish in 14 career starts and will be looking for his first ever graded stakes score. Rafael Bejarano has been tabbed with getting the largely disappointing general a Rod back on track from gate 4.
Hard Aces 12-1 - John Sadler trainee looked awfully impressive six starts back - winning the Grade 1 Gold Cup at this distance on this course in upset fashion over Catch a Flight and Hoppertunity June 27 but hasn't looked great in five starts since. A fifth last time out in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes here February 6 followed a fourth in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes here January 9, a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a sixth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes September 26 and another disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar August 22. Hard Aces had two wins and a third place in eight starts last year but has placed in just two of his last nine starts overall. Abel Lezcano will be in the irons hoping to change Hard Aces fortunes around from post 7.
Point Piper 12-1 - Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has four wins, five seconds and three third place finishes in 20 career starts. He won the minor Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar in August and has been up and down since. Last time out was an OK third in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds February 20 after a sixth in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes here January 9, consecutive runner-up finishes - the minor Zia Park Championship in November and the minor Big Bear Stakes in October and a fifth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes on this track in September. Point Piper has placed in three of his last four starts overall but looks for his first win in seven months. He chases his first ever graded stakes score from the rail. Drayden Van Dyke gets the call.
Melatonin 20-1 - has 10 career starts for trainer David Hofmans with three wins, two seconds and three third place finishes. He enters off an Allowance Optional Claiming score here February 5, a third in a similar race at Del Mar November 7 and a second in his only graded stakes action to date - the Grade 3 Eddie D Stakes here in October. He has been OK so far but will be looking for his first stakes score when he leaves from gate 2 with Joe Talamo aboard.
Cyrus Alexander 20-1 - Jerry Hollendorfer trained colt has three wins, four seconds and two third place finishes in 12 career starts. Last time out was a disappointing sixth in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes here February 6 after a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming here January 8, an Allowance Optional Claiming score in December and two straight off-the-board finishes including a fourth in the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes on this track in June. Cyrus Alexander has been up and down in his career so far but looks for his first stakes score Saturday from gate 6. Martin Garcia rides.
Class Leader 30-1 - John Sadler trainee has three wins, two seconds and four third place finishes in 18 career starts. He won the minor Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico in May, 2014 but has failed to post victory since. Last time out was a fourth in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes here February 6 after a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming on this track January 8 and a tenth in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in November. He also had a decent second in the minor King Pellinore Stakes at Santa Anita September 27 and a respectable third in the minor Michael G. Schaefer Memorial in July. He hasn't been all that impressive lately and hopes to snap a lengthy slump from the outside post 9 Saturday. Kent Desormeaux gets the call.
2016 Santa Anita Handicap Entries & Odds
Race 10 on Santa Anita's Saturday card with a Post Time of 7:40 PM.
||Drayden Van Dyke
||General a Rod