Saturday at Santa Anita we're apt to see one of the more important early Derby Preps as the newly minted 3YO class (all horses are given a birth date of 01/01 for racing purposes regardless of when they were actually born) stretches out to two turns, many for the first time.
2019 Grade III Sham 1 Mile, Dirt. 3YO M
1. Sueno (20-1) Jockey: Kent Desormeaux Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
2. Gray Magician (4-1) Jockey: Flavian Prat
3. Savagery (10-1) Jockey: Joel Rosario
4. Easy Shot (30-1) Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
5. Coliseum (1-1) Jockey: Joe Talamo
6. Gunmetal Gray (5/2) Jockey: Mike Smith
7. Much Better (6-1) Jockey: Dreydan Van Dyke
There's a lot to unpack in this race. Is Coliseum the monster that some think he is or is Gunmetal Gray just a better horse? Can someone outside pull the upset? Also, this is the 5th leg of a very difficult Rainbow 6 sequence and the third leg in a difficult Pick 4. Are their plays there you want to consider? Is this your single? (No, it's not)
First off, I see this race as more wide open than many of the other prognosticators looking at it. To my mind, Coliseum, Gunmetal Gray, Gray Magician, Savagery and Much Better all have a shot to win here, and the people who are taking stands against Coliseum are using some dodgy logic to do so.
That said, Coliseum does not stand head and shoulders above this field and Gunmetal Gray is the most likely candidate to get the win, having ran faster, more often and against better competition in the past. Those are your top two then. Coliseum and Gunmetal Gray, both should be included in your vertical exotics and in your horizontals if you're playing either the Pick 4 or Rainbow 6. I cannot find any argument to leave either out.
The second tier of contenders in this race all have flaws, but also have the ability to win, if the conditions are correct. Gray Magician is making his stakes debut, coming off a win, a third running behind Derby Contender Improbable and a couple 2nd and 3rd in MSW at Del Mar. He'd need to improve to win here, and certainly could, but for me he's a play in the bottom of my vertical exotics. I will probably omit him from my horizontals and take the chance he's not the horse to beat me. I've of the same mind about Savagery, who seems to be a good horse but to me his best races will be as a sprinter running 7F or less. Joel Rosario will give him a good ride, and he should factor in the pace, but I can't see him lasting against this field. He'll be at the very bottom of my exotics.
The "other" Baffert horse in this race peaks my interest quite a bit. Much Better ran like he was shot out of a cannon in his first race, and then was inexplicably moved to the turf for races 2 & 3 where he did not run as well. Maybe the connections were bored? I also like Red Hot jockey Dreydan Van Dyke at Santa Anita. He is going to be my long shot horse for win purposes, will feature prominently in all of my exotics and will be in my horizontal bets.
The third tier of this race are toss out horses. Sueno is a good horse, but lacks the quality of the runners above him, and Easy Shot might have a future as a stakes runner later in his career, but he's ran twice, finishing 4th at 5 1/2 furlongs. Maybe I throw Sueno into the bottom of a Superfecta just in case something silly happens, but I think 3rd or 4th would be the cap for him.
$10 Win 7 - Much Better
$0.10 Super 7,5,6/7,5,6/7,5,6,1/7,5,6,1
I'll also play the Rainbow 6 and the late Pick 4 but I have not finished my handicapping on those as of yet. As I said, they're tough.