The prestigious Santa Anita Handicap will be renewed this Saturday at Santa Anita Park. The Grade I, $600,000 event drew a field of eight that will test their mettle at 1 1/4-miles. The “Big ‘Cap,” Race 10 on a star-studded 11-race card, goes at approximately 8:00 p.m. EST. Don’t forget to check out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#2 PRIME ATTRACTION (8-1) was second in the San Pasqual last time out but was arguably best. He was uncharacteristically taken back early and raced wide on both turns but was gaining late on ACCELERATE. The extra furlong PRIME ATTRACTION gets today could aid his cause while hindering ACCELERATE’s. If PRIME ATTRACTION can replicate his Native Diver effort from a few months ago at Del Mar, he could take down the Santa Anita Handicap at a square price.
#6 FEAR THE COWBOY (3-1) gets effective class relief dropping out of the Pegasus World Cup. Prior to running a distant fourth there, he took Gulfstream’s Harlan’s Holiday with an effort that might be good enough to top these. FEAR THE COWBOY will be reunited with Javier Castellano for his Santa Anita debut.
#8 MUBTAAHIJ (4-1) is inconsistent but can’t be ignored with Hall-of-Famers Bob Baffert and Mike Smith in his corner. He and Drayden Van Dyke found themselves on a reluctant lead in the San Pasqual last time out. That’s unlikely to happen today based on the rider change and wide draw. MUBTAAHIJ won his only other start over this course (September’s Awesome Again Stakes) but has run behind PRIME ATTRACTION in each of their last two meetings and is winless at the 1 1/4-mile distance (8-0-1-2).
#5 HOPPERTUNITY (7-2) makes his second start of the meet and first of 2018 off a lackluster effort in a strangely-run San Antonio Stakes. Tossing that effort aside, HOPPERTUNITY has excelled over this course in years past (15-4-5-1) and frequently delivers efforts comparable to his foes in here. Flavien Prat has the call on Baffert’s second charge in the “Big ‘Cap.”
#7 ACCELERATE (5-2, morning-line favorite) broke through for his first win in nine tries over this course in last month’s San Pasqual. He steadied slightly about halfway in but never abandoned the rail under Victor Espinoza, who maintains the mount. He’s unlikely to get that kind of trip again and must prove he can handle this distance. ACCELERATE was third in his only try at 10 furlongs (behind Collected and Arrogate in last year’s Pacific Classic) but has frequently avoided races of this distance in the past.
The play: $1 exacta key box 2/5-8, $4 win/place 2 ($16)
DFJ analysis: Flavien Prat has eight mounts line up on Saturday’s card, and three big stakes chances. He rides World Approval, likely to be the biggest favorite on the program, in the Kilroe Mile and upset candidate Kanthaka in the San Felipe before climbing aboard the venerable HOPPERTUNITY in the Santa Anita Handicap.
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