Some of California’s best turf horses will take center stage in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita. The 1 1/4-mile classic attracted a field of seven. Post time for the Charles Whittingham, Race 7 of 10 on the day, is 7:03 p.m. ET.
#3 MARCKIE’S WATER (5-2, morning-line favorite) seeks his first ever graded stakes victory in his 18th career start. He was a winner against state-breds in the 2017 Snow Chief Stakes going 1 1/8-miles on this course. More recently, MARCKIE’S WATER rallied late to top both #6 TIZZARUNNER and #7 ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR in an upper-level allowance race at the same course and distance last month. He seemed to finish with energy in reserve under Tiago Pereira despite a three-wide trip in that heat. That isn’t all that surprising considering he placed third in the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey Stakes two starts ago. MARCKIE’S WATER has two previous starts going today’s 10-furlong distance; his most recent try was a victory in allowance/optional claiming company at Santa Anita last fall. Pereira stays aboard this logical player in the Charles Whittingham.
#5 UNITED (6-1) gets a key rider change to Flavien Prat as he attempts to stretch out in distance. He was last seen rallying for fourth against allowance/optional claimers going a mile on this course, making up 3 1/2-lengths in the stretch despite going four-wide on the far turn. UNITED has plenty of distance influence in his pedigree; his sire is the prodigious Giant’s Causeway and he’s a half-brother to Harlan Punch, a multiple stakes winner beyond a mile on dirt.
#1 PRIME ATTRACTION (3-1) faded badly when last seen in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. That was in stark contrast to his narrowly-beaten third-place effort in Del Mar’s Eddie Read Stakes last summer. Perhaps he didn’t care for Churchill’s grass course that day, because he drilled a bullet in preparation for the Charles Whittingham. PRIME ATTRACTION has a win and a second in two previous tries at Santa Anita and lures Kent Desormeaux.
The play: $5 exacta 3/1,5 ($10)
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