Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 San Antonio Stakes marks the long-anticipated rematch between California Chrome and Shared Belief at Santa Anita Park. The 1 ⅛-mile race will be featured on The Jockey Club Tour on Fox Sports 1 broadcast beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.
This will be the first race for both Chrome and Shared Belief in 2015, with their last meeting ending in defeat for both of them behind Bayern in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic. There’s no denying that these horses have had a great deal of success in their careers thus far, making this an exciting race to watch but also a fun challenge to handicap. Let’s take a closer look at this impressive field to see if we can find ourselves a winning ticket on budget.
Reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome has captivated the entire horse racing industry and beyond with his incredible career. The 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor won six out of nine starts in 2014, with his last win on turf in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar in late November. He has shown versatility with stakes wins on turf, synthetic and dirt surfaces, and his confidence continues to grow. Chrome runs with finesse and I feel he will relish the surface on Saturday. Unless Victor Espinoza and Chrome have a bad break, I would find it hard to believe he doesn’t finish in the money.
Shared Belief on paper and on track is quite the horse and provides great competition for California Chrome. With an almost flawless career, Shared Belief won 5 out of 6 starts in 2014. His only defeat was the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic in which he had a troubled start but still managed to finish fourth. Shared Belief is very fast. His last win in December’s Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita Park earned a speed figure of 114 on dirt going seven furlongs.
Jockey Mike Smith has once again taken the mount on Shared Belief, and knowing Smith’s riding style he will most likely conserve Shared Belief’s speed until the very end and make an impressive finish. I’d be silly not to add him into my play for the day.
Could Hoppertunity come in for an upset? Bob Baffert’s former 2014 Kentucky Derby hopeful has been making a steady comeback since his layoff after a foot injury. Hoppertunity had won his last two starts, the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in November and, most recently, the Grade 2 San Pasqual on Jan. 10 at Santa Anita. Those two races may have prepared him well to go off at this distance in the San Antonio. I may key Hoppertunity in a few bets along with Chrome and Shared Belief.
This race will be bet heavily and making money can be a challenge if you just play the favorites, but here are a few ways that I would play the San Antonio on a budget. Giddy up and good luck!
#8 California Chrome, # 5 Shared Belief, #1 Hoppertunity
Pick A: $5 trifecta: 1,8 with 1,5,8 with 1,5,8 = $20
Pick B: $10 win/show on #1 = $20
Pick C: $10 exacta box: 5,8 = $20
Giddy up and Good Luck!
/ xo, Ci /
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