Do not forget about West Coast racing this weekend! After the Pegasus World Cup there is the Palos Verdes Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita— a sprint event of historical significance, having attracted the likes of ROY H, SQUIRTLE SQUIRT, and LIT DE JUSTICE in the past.
This year a field of eight will dash the six furlongs and will start adding shape to the sprint division.
Ironically, the top two favorites were hardly sprinting last year, and instead battling at longer distances. They are TAKE THE ONE O ONE for trainer Brian Koriner, and AX MAN for trainer Bob Baffert. Both seem to relish off a drop in class, but both must also successfully shorten and defeat a rather talented, evenly matched group. Is the stage set for an upset? You decide! The shortest horse is 5-2 and the longest only at 12-1.
TAKE THE ONE O ONE, the morning line favorite at 5-2, was last seen tousling with tougher in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at 1 1/16th miles. He earned his highest Beyer in over two years, a 96. Last year a 97 Beyer was enough to win this event. He breaks from post seven and is ready to roll.
AX MAN (3-1 ml) from the six hole has trained lights out. His most recent drill on January 16th went five furlongs in :58.00, the fastest of 53 works at that distance. AX MAN is still looking for his first graded stakes win, despite being the chalk in four of seven tries. But the Grade 3 level seems to be where he's most competitive. He's proven at this distance and surface. He's battled tested against the likes of MAXIMUM SECURITY, MCKINZIE, and MIDCOURT. Mike Smith will be out East so Tyler Baze takes the mount.
The remaining six contenders each have a good chance of stealing the show.
See the number four horse, CAPTAIN SCOTTY. He won last year's Palos Verdes Stakes. He's an interesting case; a speed ball who made the lead going :21 and :44 ½ over six furlongs on this Santa Anita track.
But his best races seem to come in spurts. By winning last year's edition, he earned a 117 Equibase figure. A year before that he ran five good races in a row where he averaged a 111 Equibase figure. Today he is pegged at 8-1. Not much respect for the defending champ who enters off a two race winning streak. If he taps into his back class, look out for a blazing victory.
The number three horse SHOOTERS SHOOT (12-1) puts blinkers on for the first time for trainer Peter Eurton. He ran seventh early this month against Optional Claiming 62K, but it was only his comeback race after six month gone. We can expect a much better effort being his second start back in action.
Here is horse trying something quite new: WILDMAN JACK. Most of his races were on turf. In his only dirt start, he ran in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby where he finished a decent fourth. He even made the lead ¾ into the race before being out run. Maybe this time, at this level, he sustains his speed and carries it home for the win. He breaks from the two spot with odds of 6-1.
You've got to love when a horse responds to a new training regimen and delivers the best race of his career. Such is the case for SHASHASHAKEMEUP. Previously trained by Keith Desormeaux, now in the hands of Peter Miller. He recently posted the highest beyer of his career, 96, going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs. It was a second place result but he is on the improve. You get him at 4-1 plus the red hot leading jockey Juan Hernandez on the saddle.
PYRON from the one hole at 6-1 posted a career high beyer of 92 in his last race for trainer Mark Glatt. Hasn't run since November 8th, but is 4 for 6 at this six furlong distance. He holds a win over one of the competitors in the field, KNEEDEEPINSNOW, who breaks from the outside.
But guess what? KNEEDEEPINSNOW was only making his comeback race when he lost to PYRON. Since then he registered a front running score here at Santa Anita, going six and half furlongs, even posting his own career high beyer of 91.
Both PYRON and KNEEDEEPINSNOW are hard to separate in terms of class, but you get 10-1 on the latter. Being his second start off a layoff, KNEEDEEPINSNOW should have more stamina to carry his speed for hopefully long enough.