Welcome to summer 2020. It might not last too long, however. (LINK) Who knows, the way 2020 has been going, they might actually be right this time.
Let's try to make the most of it together at Santa Anita, should it be our last day on Earth. After all, the Arcadia, California track is called the most beautiful track in the world, nestled in front of the San Gabriel Mountains. If we are going to go, might as have a winning ticket and beauty of God's green Earth as the mind's final image.
To really put an eternal stamp on it, can we see if Mick, Ronnie, Charlie and Keith are available for some live music between races?
While we can't book the Stones, we can try to deliver the winning ticket part with the Grade III, American Stakes in Santa Anita's 10th on the Sunday card. A crew of 10 will race 1 mile on Santa Anita's turf course for their share of the $100,000 jackpot.
Horseplayers should be able to find good value in the American Stakes as it's a competitive, deep field. We can make a winning case for at least half the entries. Here are our top five picks and why they could find their way to the winners' circle.
TRUE VALOR (PP: 1) is making his second start off the sidelines, following a short rest. His history says he's more likely to improve than not in round two. Seconds starts happens to be one of trainer Simon Callaghan's best angles, winning at 26%. TRUE VALOR has competed against some top competition and tends to make his case late. If he's within three to four lengths of the leaders coming out of the final turn, he'll have a chance.
JASIKAN (PP: 2) has a pair of wins and thirds since arriving in the US from Ireland. He's raced at 1 mile on the grass three times with two wins and a third - didn't miss by much. One of the Ws came at Santa Anita despite getting off to a slow start, which seems to be a bad habit for the John Sadler trainee. The four-year-old hasn't raced in more than 10 months but it shouldn't an issue as Sadler scores at 18% with horses returned from an extended layoff.
CLEOPATRA'S STRIKE (PP: 3) has been a place horse for the Southern California course. He has a win and three seconds in four Santa Anita outings. He gets a jockey upgrade to Mike Smith, who has been cashing checks like it's the end of times or something, winning at 30% meet to date and in-the-money seven of his last eight races. That's mind-boggling.
SHARP SAMURAI (PP: 5) has been in the barn, feet up drink in hand since last August. That's a long time. Trainer Mark Glatt wins at 14% with horses returning to work after taking off more than 90-days, not the best percentage, but good enough. The six-year-old son of FIRST SAMURAI came back from a seven-month layoff in June 2018 to win at…. 1 mile on Santa Anita turf. He has the best back class and if he can repeat his June 2018 comeback, he could add to his five wins in eight Santa Anita starts.
BORDER TOWN (PP: 7) is on a two-race win streak and is not all that far from calling it four, finishing third by 3/4s and second by a head in the non-W runs. WAR FRONT's baby boy is making his second start after a three-month rest. He produced his best speed number in his first off the break and his limited history hints at a major improvement in race number two off the pine. Additionally, the jockey and trainer combo of Flavien Prat and Richard Mandella has been a force together, winning five of their last nine as a team. (Can't help but see Chris Tucker from the movie Rush Hour saying Mandella every time I type/see/hear the trainer's name)
BOWIES HERO (PP: 8) has nothing but Grade Is, IIs and IIIs in his recent past performance history. He's been a money magnet at the distance, winning seven of 16, banking $1.3 million for team Agave Racing. That's nearly double the next closest of $730,147 for BOLO (PP: 10) and blows everybody else out of the water. He's another that's always coming hard late and will be hard to hold off if he's within 3 lengths in the stretch.
Here's how we Rank them for the 2020 American Stakes.
5 - Sharp Samurai
7 - Border Town
3 - Cleopatra's Strike
8 - Bowies Hero
2 - Jasikan
1 - True Valour
Hopefully, we have a winner and hope to see you on Tuesday.