2015 California Cup Derby

Santa Anita’s California Cup Derby

California ChromeThis Saturday, January 24th we have the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita. In last year’s edition of the California Cup Derby, before he was considered America’s horse or held Horse of the Year and 3 Year Old HOY, California Chrome dominated this race with a 5 ½ length victory over the favorite, Tamarando and paid $7.00 for the win. I called out Chrome as the real speed in that field and boy, did he prove me right! This marked the second race in his 6 race win streak before he was finally upset in the Belmont. For whatever reasons, his connections kept him out of the short 4 horse field that competed in the 2014 Sham Stakes and placed him in the California Cup Derby where he could truly stand out. Because of this, I felt it was important that we take a look at this year’s race and see if another top notch horse might emerge. As always, let’s take a look at this field and see if we can’t find us some value!

2015 California Cup Derby

AcceptanceThe $250,000 California Cup Derby is Race 6 on the card at Santa Anita this Saturday and will host a field of 8 California Bred or California Sired three year olds traveling 1 1/16 mile. The 4/5 morning line favorite is Acceptance, trained by Donald Warren and ridden by Elvis Trujillo. Acceptance is undefeated in his only 3 starts and it appears that his connections are looking to follow in California Chrome’s footsteps, having won the King Glorious at Los Alamitos and looking for the win here in the California Cup Derby. One thing that concerns me about this colt is the poor speed figure he put up in the King Glorious Stakes. Sure, he won it and why spend more energy than what’s needed to win the race, but it concerns me nonetheless. That being said, he’s competing against other horses that were in that particular race, so maybe that speed figure is irrelevant here. At any rate, I still want to try and find some value since he will be a strong favorite. Next up on the morning line is Tough Sunday at 5 to 2.  Tough Sunday won his maiden race on his third start and dominated that field at Santa Anita by 6 ¾ lengths. Tough Sunday has shown that he doesn’t have to have the early lead to win it, but depending on how this field shapes up, he may have to go sooner than normal to take down Acceptance, a move he made in that last race. Mischief ClemThat will only be to his benefit if Acceptance goes out alone on the early lead, though and looking at some of the others that may not happen. For value, I’m taking a shot with Mischief Clem at 6 to 1 on the ML. He ran 4th in the King Glorious, but it seems he never really fired and was unable to pull a late bid. He has lost twice to Acceptance in his career, but I believe the distance will help him to pull off the upset here. For a longshot, I’m going with Avanti Bello at 20 to 1 on the morning line. He bounced in the Eddie Logan Stakes back in December at Santa Anita, but won his career debut in the race prior to that one. Based on those two races, it’s not clear whether he will try for the early lead or if he will make a stalking move, but with Mike Smith taking the mount here, he could be dangerous. Keep him in mind when making your exotic plays, because I believe he will put in a great effort and might possibly upset this group. Good luck all!



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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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