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Californian Stakes 2014; Eight Rivals Ready To Romp At Santa Anita

Californian Stakes 2014; Eight Rivals Ready To Romp At Santa Anita: The GII Californian Stakes takes place at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California this Saturday, May 31st. This race was previously contested at Betfair Hollywood Park. It’s for 3 year-olds and up ready to romp in the dirt running 1 1/8 miles for a purse of $200,000 and is an important steppingstone to the (GI) $500,000 Gold Cup, previously known as the Hollywood Gold Cup, at Santa Anita on June 28th, 2014.

California Stakes 2014

The California Stakes field at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, May 31, 2014 includes Doug O’Neill’s Handsome Mike, who will break from post position #5 with Mario Gutierrez.

Dating back to 1954 at the now closed-for-business Hollywood Park, the inital winner was Imbros who set a new track record of 1:41.00 which also equaled the then world record for 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. Since inception, the race has been contested at 1 1/16, 1 1/8, and 1 mile. There is a deep history of winners including Swaps, Dr. Fager, Cougar II, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Precisionist, Sunday Silence and Game On Dude.

The speed record is held by Heatseeker (new stakes and track record) in 1:47.06 for the distance of 1 1/8 miles. The most wins are tied with 2 each for Cougar II (1971,1972); Quack (1973, 1974); Ancient Title (1975,1976). The most wins by a jockey are tied with 5 each for Bill Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay Jr. and Chris McCarron. The most wins by a trainer are a whopping 11 for Charlie Whittingham.

The 2014 Californian Stakes has a start time of 4:00 pm, PST and is the 7th race of the day on a card of 9 before race #8, the American Oaks.

Last week Sigi and I tackled the Sheepshead Bay Stakes where we both missed the winner Reposte. Sigi picked the second place winner and I only had the third. However, the Charles Whittingham we nailed thanks to Sigi’s pick and single of Big Cazanova the race before. He hit across the board on him and the race we capped I hit with my daily double of 5/1,2,3,6 $8 and netted $189.90. So thank you Sigi and Big Cazanova! On to this week’s 2014 California Stakes!

I’m going with couple of horses here to hit in the top three coming off long layoffs. Yeah, I’m nutz.

Kari’s Picks and Play: (@horseflynawall) The Peter Miller trained Fly Lexis Fly I’ve been waiting on since last year after he was nudged out for third in the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar last summer by Vagabound Shoes and Jeranimo, who won the race on July 20th, 2013. He has one race at Santa Anita where he finished 8th. This son of Badge of Silver/Becky Loves Silver/Silver Charm screams “shine” to me this time. He has 10 very nice works at San Luis Rey Training Center and a race record of 12:3:2:3. Badge of Silver produces some nice babies including Silver Max, who runs on anything. Has hasn’t nailed a win in the U.S. since coming from Peru so I’m hoping jockey Periera can get him there from post #8.

I’m also digging the son of Empire Maker/Sky Beam/Kingmambo, Sky Kingdom. This Bob Baffert trained boy is coming off a 4th place finish in last summers Harry F. Brubaker Stakes on August 31, 2013. His last win was over the Santa Anita track on March 23, 2013 in the Tokyo City Cup Stakes (GIII). He has a race record of 13:4:1:2 and is also sporting 9 super works on the Santa Anita Dirt. He leaves stall #3 with Garcia up to ride.

Lastly, I’m torn between the son of Candy Ride Clubhouse Ride and my Scat Daddy boy Handsome Mike. I’ve been following Handsome Mike for a few years and he usually disappoints me. However, he is coming of a 3rd and most recent 2nd place finish behind Fury Kapcori on the dirt going 1 1/16 miles on May 3rd. He does have a win at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt back in 2012, so here’s to hoping he can hit the board.

Clubhouse Ride won this race last year and has been winless in his past eight starts. However, he does have a win and two seconds contesting this distance. This classy guy has been barking up the tree this year and I think could hit the board.

There should be a hot pace in this race with Fury Kapcori, who likes to be on or near the lead, and he most likely will be the favorite and the one to beat. With his front-running wire job last out, he’s going to take them a long way along with Storm Fighter who last out was also an impressive gate to wire winner. If the speed tanks, I’m hoping one of these guys can win at some decent odds.

My play will be a $2 DD starting with race #7 1,3,8/2,8 and a little on #5 in case he decides to run well.

Sigi’s Picks and Play: (@sigimendoza) The logical choice here is Clubhouse Ride, this horse is the class, has faced tougher boys and he’s improving race by race. Clubhouse Ride has several good works and all indicating he’s ready to win. Sky Kingdom is returning from a long layoff but in the past he’s faced some great runners, also the connections Garcia/Baffert add some confidence and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins this race. Fly Lexis Fly, a (GI) winner in Peru, returns with a good workout pattern and also his trainer Peter Miller in on a hot streak, maybe he needs the race, but he has the quality to beat this field.

My play with be a Daily Double starting race #7: 1,3,8/8.

Thanks again Sigi for taking the time to look at this race and make some picks. We seem to be on the same-page here pretty much, except for Handsome Mike, but that’s my own weakness. Good luck everyone and safe ride.

Californian Stakes 2014 Post Positions & Odds
1. Clubhouse Ride 9-2 J.Talamo/C.Lewis
2. Fury Kapcori 4-5 C.Nakatani/J.Hollendorfer
3. Sky Kingdom 6-1 M.Garcia/B.Baffert
4. Majestic City 12-1 M.Smith/R.Ellis
5. Handsome Mike 12-1 M.Gutierrez/D.O’Neill
6. Storm Fighter E. 4-1 Maldonado/B.Headley
7. Majestic Harbor 10-1 T.Baze/S.McCarethy
8. Fly Lexis Fly 20-1 T.Periera/P.Miller