This summer’s major graded horse racing season continues to heat up with Saturday’s running of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Join us in this betting preview on the event.
It should be a big day of racing all around at Santa Anita Park this Saturday with the 2016 Gold Cup leading the way as the featured event on the card and an automatic qualifier for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. After breaking down the entries listed as probable for this race, I have come up with two horses that come together perfectly as my top exacta on the betting odds offered by most top rated sportsbooks such as Bovada.
The Gold Cup at Santa Anita- Santa Anita Park
The Gold Cup is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year old thoroughbreds and up with a total price purse of $500,000. It will be contested on the dirt track at Santa Anita Park over a distance of 1¼ miles.
There are some familiar names lining up for a shot at winning this year’s Gold Cup from past racing glory and the one at the top of my list should he decide to run is trainer Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity. This five-year old Kentucky-bred horse is currently ranked 39th by Horse Racing Nation with an overall rating of 8.10 following a run in the money at the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup on March 26th.
He ended up third in that race behind winner California Chrome and Mubtaahij over a distance of 1¼ miles. This followed an earlier victory this year in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita over a distance of 1 1/18 miles. Hoppertunity has enjoyed a long history of success at this race track over his racing career and it should continue this Saturday.
My second choice for our in Saturday’s Gold Cup is Hard Aces. Trained by John Sadler, this six-year old Kentucky-bred horse continues to line bettor’s pockets with a pair of second-place finishes in two of his last three events. He placed second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in mid-March behind Melatonin, who is also expected to run in this race.
Following a disappointing seventh-place run in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, he returned to his home track to take second in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on May 22 over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. Hard Aces’ current HRN rank is 53 with an overall rating of 7.91.
Bonus Pick: Triple Bend Stakes- Santa Anita Park
Another Grade 1 event highlighting Saturday’s card at Santa Anita is the Triple Bend Stakes. This race is also open to three-year old thoroughbreds and up and the total prize purse for this year’s event is set at $300,000. It will be contested on dirt over a distance of seven furlongs.
Right now 10 horses are lining-up for shot to win Saturday’s Triple Bend Stakes led by my favorite Kobe’s Back. Trainer Peter Eurton has upgraded this five-year old Kentucky-bred horse to probable for this race and if he does run he should easily open as the morning line favorite. Ranked 46 by HRN with a lofty rating of 7.98, he has placed in the money in all three events he ran this year including the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes and the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita.
His last time out in early May, Kobe’s Back finished third in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes over a distance of seven furlongs behind winner Catalina Red and Calculator. He has not finished out of the money in his last four races that Santa Anita.
It could end up being quite a battle for the place position in this race, but I am leaning towards Indexical to round-out my exacta betting pick. Trained by Ben Cecil, this five-year old Kentucky-bred horse is the only other ranked entry expected in Saturday’s field and his current HRN rating stands at 7.19. He comes in with some question marks since his last race was in August of 2015, but he also comes in with a streak of three finishes in the money in his last three runs.
Going back to the 2014 Triple Bend Stakes, Indexical finished third behind Declassify and Cyclometer. In his last competitive event in August of 2015, he also took third in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Handicap at Del Mar over a distance of seven furlongs.