It’s a scintillating night of action in Santa Anita on Saturday, with a pair of Group 1 races to get stuck-in to from across the Atlantic. All our previews from this weekend’s British and Irish horse racing are on site now, but if you’re looking for some Grade 1 racing from the States, keep on reading!
The first of the pair of Group 1 races is the Rodeo Drive Stakes, with a compact field vying for this $300,000 prize. Siberian Iris was last seen scooping a Listed race at Del Mar over 1m 3f, showing a good attitude to pounce late under Rafael Bejarano. That sort of form gives her an excellent chance, but MIRTH was in behind that day and is fancied to reverse the placings under Mike Smith.
She finished fifth in that Del Mar contest, turning for home in front before weakening in the closing stages. The drop a furlong in distance will help matters and she should be able to save more energy in this field, perhaps going off a shade too hard last time. She did beat the aforementioned rival back in May also, which furthers her case, as does the fact she’s finished second on three of her last four, outlining her consistency.
There is likely to be a short-price for Brad Cox’s Beau Recall and that is no real surprise. The mare has won two of her last three starts, with both wins being Grade 2 races and the defeat coming when second at Grade 1 level. That form was franked by the third since and she’s got obvious claims. That said, she’s going to go off a skinny price and she’s yet to win beyond the extended mile and if stamina plays a part, there is a chance she could be vulnerable late on.
Another to look out for is Paved, who finished fourth to Vasilika in a Grade 2 at Del Mar on her latest outing. That form ties her in with Beau Recall, who beat Vasilika to win a Grade 2 on her latest outing. Her stamina for the trip is less of a concern that the favourites and she’s still lightly-raced, so there could easily be more to come.
Tip: Mirth @ 6/1
This race is likely to revolve around the quirky McKinzie, who has won two of his last three starts, latterly when taking out the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga. He did that comfortably and he’s an extremely talented colt who is proven at the level. He’s tactically versatile, so he can take a lead or come from behind, though the former would be preferable. Still seemingly improving on the figures, it’s impossible to not give him a leading chance.
Preference, however, is for John Sadler’s HIGHER POWER, who was marvelous when slamming Draft Pick to win the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. When driven he simply exploded into life, putting five lengths between him and the rest of the field, with Mongolian Groom another left trailing in his wake. That was only his second start at the trip and further improvement should be on the cards from this four-year-old.
Granted, he does need to improve, but McKinzie hasn’t won back to back races for two years and the last two times he’s raced at Santa Anita, he’s been beaten as both the 1/2 and 2/5 favourite. That doesn’t bode well and with the potential for Higher Power to improve again, it’s worth taking the heavy favourite on, in my opinion.
Tip: Higher Power @ 2/1