There have been concerns all week about a possible storm hitting Southern California on Santa Anita Handicap day, but the current forecast calls for only light rain in late afternoon and on Saturday night, so the Big 'Cap show will go on without the threat of cancellation due to drainage problems on the synthetic main track that have plagued the current meet.
Santa Anita's 11-race card featuring four graded stakes gets off to an early start, with a noon local or 3 p.m. Eastern first post. The Santa Anita Handicap goes as the 10th race, with an approximate post time of 8:02 Eastern.
With high weight in this handicap assigned just 117 pounds, it's clear there is no standout in the Big 'Cap field, but it's an outstanding betting race with 14 starters and many serious contenders. The 5-year-old mare St. Trinians was installed the 7-2 morning line favorite off the strength of four consecutive victories since coming to the United States from England and joining the barn of trainer Mike Mitchell, her last win coming in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap. No filly or mare has ever won the Big 'Cap.
French import Loup Breton, winner of the San Marcos in his third American start for trainer Julio Canani, is second choice on the morning line at 4-1. He'll be making his first start on synthetics after racing on turf throughout his career.
Dakota Phone, beaten at head last out at 34-1 in the San Antonio Handicap by Richards Kid, gives trainer Jerry Hollendorfer a chance to sweep two Grade 1 races on the card. He's 20-1 on the morning line in the Big 'Cap but has to be considered off that last race, while the top-class 3-year-old filly Blind Luck looks to have her six rivals over a barrel in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks as the 1-2 morning favorite. The daughter of Pollard's Vision was 1-5 when she won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes last time out by a nose, getting a favorable head bob at the wire to beat longshot Evening Jewel, who is not in the Oaks lineup.
The Oaks goes at 6:57 p.m. Eastern time.
The third Grade 1 of the card, the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap, is topped by Ever a Friend, who gives the aforementioned Mitchell a chance for two Grade 1 victories on the day, heady stuff for the longtime claiming trainer. The Kilroe, scheduled on turf, goes at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
The final graded stakes on the Big 'Cap card is the rescheduled Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds, a Grade 3 event at 1 1/8 miles on the synthetic track. Nextdoorneighbor is the tepid 3-1 morning line choice but don't overlook Eoin Harty-trained Kettle River. The son of Congaree comes off a hard-fought allowance win in his third career start. The Sham is schedule at 6:24 p.m. Eastern.
All the Santa Anita races will be shown on HRTV.
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