Brandon A. Quick |  Sat 10/03/2018 - 11:06 EST

Santa Anita Handicap 2018 Odds, Predictions

Santa Anita Handicap 2018 Odds, Predictions
Saturday, March 10 represents a big day of racing on the Triple Crown trail, but don't forget about the 81st running of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap as eight veteran rivals are set to contest the 1 1/4-mile event at 8 PM ET.

Wide-open race

All 8 runners in the ‘Big Cap’ are graded stakes winners save for 10/1 shot Top of the Game. The race features no clear-cut favorites in terms of recent form or speed figures, making this an event where the betting public will struggle to identify a solid post time favorite. Of course, these types of races are ones where handicappers able to carve out a strong opinion stand to prosper.

Meet the field

  1. Top of the Game (10/1)
  2. Prime Attraction (8/1)
  3. Curlin Road (12/1)
  4. Giant Expectations (5/1)
  5. Hoppertunity (7/2)
  6. Fear the Cowboy (3/1)
  7. Accelerate (5/2)
  8. Mubtaahij (4/1)

Handicapping the ‘Big Cap’ 

Most bettors will quickly toss Top of the Game and Curlin Road who both figure to go in the gate much higher than their morning line odds. Top of the Game hasn’t hit the board in any of his last three starts and Curlin Road will be making his first start since running a credible, but distant fourth in the Aug. 19 Pacific Classic. These two are for contrarians only. 

After that, things get much tougher to decipher as the rest of the field is full of pluses and minuses. Hoppertunity and Mubtaahij, for example, are the lone grade 1 winners in the field and the most proven runners at ten furlongs. The downside is both Bob Baffert trainees are wind-up closers in a race that doesn’t figure to offer much pace. There’s also much reason to question their recent form as Hoppertunity has lost his last four races and Mubtaahij has dropped three consecutive starts. 

Accelerate is probably deserving of his morning line favoritism, but keep in mind that he’s never won at the distance and was once identified by trainer John Sadler as a horse who is better at shorter distances. Accelerate looked like a runner winning the Grade 2 San Pasqual last out at 1 1/8-miles, but there are valid reasons to doubt him in this spot. 

Fear the Cowboy and Giant Expectations are horses with opposing styles, but both will ultimately have to answer the distance question as well. Giant Expectations could be the early leader in this race and did defeat Accelerate Dec.26 in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes, but he’s never traveled further than 1 1/6-miles in his 14-race career. As for Fear the Cowboy, the late-closer has never been beyond 1 1/8-miles. Even if the distance is to his liking, he’ll have to overcome a likely disadvantageous pace scenario much like Hoppertunity and Mubtaahij. 

That leaves Prime Attraction who was last seen finishing second to Accelerate in the San Pasqual Feb. 3. The five year-old has some tracking speed and should be able to find a comfortable position throughout. He’ll need improvement, but 8/1 seems like a fair price. 

The Picks

  • 1-Prime Attraction 
  • 2-Giant Expectations 
  • 3-Accelerate

Category : Sporting News

Tag : Horse Racing

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