Santa Anita Picks: California Cup Preview

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, January 16, 2021

Track announcer Frank Mirahmadi calls the Cali Cup one of the best days of racing at Santa Anita. That's saying something considering all the big races the southern California track hosts. The Cali Cup card is 10 races deep with an early first race post time of 12:00 pm pacific; make a note of it.

Our friends at Guaranteed Tip Sheet have the five stakes races covered in great detail inside their Cali Cup Wagering Guide. You might want to check it out.

Horse Racing Radar is checking out race 7, the $200,000 California Cup. A group of nine, three-year-old California Bred or Sired horses will race 1 1/16 miles on the main track. With only four races at the distance and surface meet to date, there are no track biases to help us narrow down our choices. May the best horse win!

If THE CHOSEN VRON (PP: 1 ML 8/5) winds back his debut, then he is the best horse by a wide margin. He stepped on to the track for his first race and smoked a field of 10 by 6 ¾ lengths as the 2 to 1 favorite. The son of VRONSKY and TIZ MOLLY laid down the top, last race speed figure and it's not close. The only question is can he extend from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. Considering he produced the highest late pace figure achieved by this group, the answer is probably yes.

GOOD WITH PEOPLE (PP: 4 ML 7/) is the oddsmaker's net choice. He's won three of five on a fast track, wiring the field in his trio of winners' circle trips. He needs the lead and is likely to come under a lot of pressure from the favorite, MISCHIEVOUS PATH (PP: 2 ML 12-1) and PLAY CHICKEN (PP: 5 ML 4-1). He faded late in his last two at 1 mile and 7 furlongs respectively. If jockey Ricardo Gonzalez can't get GOOD WITH PEOPLE to the front at a modest pace, adding another 1/16th mile might prove to be too much.

Meanwhile, PLAY WITH CHICKEN seems to get better as the race goes longer. He's won both of his races at 1 mile while missing badly at 7 furlongs. The extra 1/16th could be a question here too. In his pair of victories, jockey Mario Gutierrez squeezed every bit out of his horse to hang on at the wire. He'll have to hope his horse is in peak form to get the extra distance.

BIG FISH (PP: 2 ML 5-1) is the only other horse with odds less than 10-1. He started his career with four consecutive in the money runs but has failed to find the board in his last four. It's not all bad though as his last two start were his best as measured by speed ratings. He could be even better today in his third start following a short break.

Guaranteed Tip Sheet was nice enough to share their subscribers' commentary, straight from their Cali Cup Wager Guide.

THE CHOSEN VRON looks like the best horse in the field if he just repeats his debut. POSITIVITY is one for one at Santa Anita and fits at this level. GOOD WITH PEOPLE has three wins and a second in five races on a fast surface. PLAY CHICKEN has improved from race to race to race in his first three. Further improvement could be enough to find the winners' circle.

After giving their commnetary some thought and reviewing past performances, POSITIVITY could be overlooked in this spot. He stumbled at the start of the Grade II, Los Alamitos Futurity and never recovered in his last effort. Prior to that, her nearly ran down GOOD WITH PEOPLE at 7 furlongs and definitely would have passed him at 1 1/16 miles.

Get today's full picks for all tracks and races at Guaranteed Tip Sheet.