2020 Santa Anita Handicap Cheat Sheet

Racing
Midcourt, left, and Gift Box, right, are two of the leading contenders for the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap March 7 at Santa Anita Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The Santa Anita Handicap is one of the most important races for older male racehorses each year, and the 1 ¼-mile race at Santa Anita Park drew a field of eight horses in search of a historically significant victory for the résumé.

Held first in 1935 with multiple nicknames such as the “hundred grander” in the era of Seabiscuit (who won the race in 1940 and finished second in 1937 and 1938) and the Big ’Cap, the race has been won by other notable stars such as Round Table, Ack Ack, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, John Henry (twice), Alysheba, Tiznow, Lava Man (twice), Game On Dude (three times), Shared Belief, and Accelerate.

The 2020 Big ’Cap is a Grade 1 race scheduled for March 7 with a purse of $600,000.

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Keep reading for all of the key information you’ll need to get to know the contenders for the 2020 Santa Anita Handicap.


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Multiplier (20-1 morning line)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Peter Miller

Owners: Wachtel Stable, George J. Kerr, and Gary Barber

Career record: 24 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $351,630

Earnings per start: $14,651

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: The Factor – Trippi Street, by Trippi

Color: Gray or Roan

Age: 6

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The 2017 Illinois Derby winner has raced primarily on turf since May 2018, making 13 of his last 15 starts on the grass with a pair of unplaced finishes on the dirt during that stretch. His connections thought enough of his ability on the main track to enter Multiplier in both the 2017 Preakness and Belmont Stakes, although he was unplaced in both races. The gelding by The Factor matched a career-top 116 Equibase Speed Figure when running fifth behind United in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on the grass Feb. 1, but his best figure on dirt (109) came more than 19 months ago in an allowance race. Because of the Pegasus World Cup and Saudi Cup, the Big ’Cap came up a little lighter on talent than usual, so you can understand why Multiplier’s connections would take a chance here, but it seems like filling out the trifecta or superfecta might be the best case scenario in this spot.

Bet Multiplier in the Santa Anita Handicap.


BENOIT photo

2. Two Thirty Five (6-1)

Jockey: Rueben Fuentes

Trainer: Richard Baltas

Owner: Richard Baltas, Tom Mansor, Tammi Nielsen, and Kim Rasmussen

Career record: 21 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 5 thirds

Career earnings: $268,165

Earnings per start: $12,770

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Stay Thirsty – A Footstep Away, by Giant's Causeway

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 6

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After making his first eight starts in claiming races, Two Thirty Five has developed into a solid older horse in the handicap division even though he still is seeking a breakthrough graded stakes win. He’s finished third behind Midcourt in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes in November and second to that familiar rival in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes Feb. 1, but he was well-beaten in both races and will need to improve upon his career-best 112 Equibase Speed Figure to be a serious threat in the Santa Anita Handicap. Perhaps the best scenario for Two Thirty Five’s chances would be Midcourt and Gift Box hooking up early and challenging each other while he settles in a few lengths back and makes a run at them near the top of the stretch. Two Thirty Five is certainly capable of a top-three finish, but he probably would need some racing luck to find himself in the winner’s circle.

Bet Two Thirty Five in the Santa Anita Handicap.


3. Brown Storm (15-1)

Jockey: Hector Isaac Berrios

Trainer: Mike McCarthy

Owner: Matriarca

Career record: 16 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $149,234

Earnings per start: $9,327

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 117

Pedigree: Scat Daddy – Blazing Storm, by Acclamation

Color: Chestnut

Age: 5

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A multiple group stakes winner in his native Chile, Brown Storm is winless in three starts since coming to the U.S. to join the barn of Mike McCarthy. He enters this race off a fourth in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes Feb. 1 at Santa Anita, where he led into deep stretch before fading and finishing 1 ¼ lengths behind winner United resulting in a career-top 117 Equibase Speed Figure. One of several questions surrounding Brown Storm is surface: he’s raced only twice on dirt with a listed stakes win and a distant ninth-place finish in a Group 1 race in Chile. If he handles the dirt main track at Santa Anita, Brown Storm also will be challenged for the lead by several others with proved graded stakes form on the main track. On the bright side, Brown Storm should be a big price and he’s one of only two horses in the race (along with defending winner Gift Box) with a win on dirt at 1 ¼ miles.

Bet Brown Storm in the Santa Anita Handicap.


Eclipse Sportswire

4. Gift Box (SCRATCHED)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Hronis Racing LLC

Career record: 18 starts – 6 wins – 6 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $1,127,060

Earnings per start: $62,614

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 117

Pedigree: Twirling Candy – Special Me, by Unbridled's Song

Color: Gray or roan

Age: 7

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Gift Box won this race a year ago for trainer John Sadler coming off a win in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes and follows the same path this year having posted a front-running 3 ¾-length score in the San Antonio Dec. 28 at Santa Anita. Gift Box has been very consistent with a light schedule over the last three-plus years, finishing first or second in nine of his last 10 starts. Depending upon how the race shapes up, regular rider Joel Rosario could send Gift Box right to the lead and challenge the opposition to come and get him or he could rate him just off the pace. Gift Box probably will vie with Midcourt for favoritism and should be viewed as a prime win candidate with a field-best 117 Equibase Speed Figure on dirt. Sadler is seeking his third straight win in this race and Rosario his second after guiding Gift Box to a victory by a nose over McKinzie in 2019.

Bet Gift Box in the Santa Anita Handicap.


Eclipse Sportswire

5. Midcourt (4-5)

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Trainer: John Shirreffs

Owner: C R K Stable

Career record: 9 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $342,695

Earnings per start: $38,077

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Midnight Lute – Mayo On the Side, by French Deputy

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 5

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts:  Midcourt has won five of his last six races with the lone defeat a third-place finish, beaten 7 ½ lengths by Gift Box in the Dec. 28 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita. The Midnight Lute gelding’s chances in that race were compromised when he got off to a slow start as he won both the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes in November 2019 and the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes Feb. 1 in wire-to-wire fashion by open lengths. Expect jockey Victor Espinoza to send Midcourt right to the front as that looks like his best chance to turn the tables on Gift Box. Midcourt has never raced at this 1 ¼-mile distance, but he won his two starts at 1 1/8 miles by a combined 8 ¼ lengths and earned the two best Equibase Speed Figures of his career (both 112). Espinoza won the Big ’Cap in 2004 with Southern Image and in 2018 on Accelerate.

Bet Midcourt in the Santa Anita Handicap.


Coady Photography

6. Combatant (10-1)

Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

Trainer: John Sadler

Owner: Hronis Racing LLC

Career record: 23 starts – 3 wins – 5 seconds – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $672,498

Earnings per start: $29,239

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Scat Daddy – Border Dispute, by Boundary

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Combatant made his first start for new trainer John Sadler in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes Feb. 1 at Santa Anita and rallied from of the pace to finish third. That was a promising new beginning for a 5-year-old ridgling who has won only a maiden race and a pair of allowance races in his four seasons of racing. Combatant has placed in seven stakes, including four graded races, but the problem is he’s been wildly inconsistent throughout his career and is just as likely to never factor in a race as he is to rally for a minor award. Unless there is a wicked pace up front that sets the Big ’Cap up perfectly for a deep closer, Combatant probably is not a serious win candidate. But he is worthy of consideration to spice up the exotics underneath for a trainer in Sadler who has won the last two editions of this race.

Bet Combatant in the Santa Anita Handicap.


Eclipse Sportswire

7. Hofburg (4-1)

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Career record: 10 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $553,800

Earnings per start: $55,380

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Pedigree: Tapit – Soothing Touch, by Touch Gold

Color: Chestnut

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The 2018 Florida Derby runner-up finished a respectable seventh that year in the Kentucky Derby in only his fourth race and then ran third in the Belmont Stakes. Later that summer, he won the Curlin Stakes but was unplaced in his final two starts of the year. Hofburg made only one start in 2019, winning an allowance race in July at Saratoga, before he was sidelined with a leg injury. His return Feb. 15 from a seven-month layoff did not go as planned as he finished a well-beaten seventh in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Stakes at Fair Grounds. On one hand, it’s easy to see the upside in Hofburg as a racehorse talented enough to run third in a classic race who has never completely put it together. On the other hand, the 5-year-old by Tapit is now 5 years old and has lost five of his 10 career races by six lengths or more, so it’s tough to predict what to expect when he steps on the racetrack. The half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to four-time Grade 1 winner Emollient was bred to be a star, but so far the Zodiac has not aligned for Hofburg.

Bet Hofburg in the Santa Anita Handicap.


Eclipse Sportswire

8. Endorsed (4-1)

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Owner: Godolphin, LLC

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $226,850

Earnings per start: $37,808

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Pedigree: Medaglia d'Oro – Dance Card, by Tapit

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: With only six races on his résumé, well-bred Endorsed looms as a bit of a wild card in this race. A Godolphin homebred out of Grade 1 winner Dance Card, by Tapit, Endorsed was a highly regarded 2-year-old in 2018 who finished second last summer at 3 in the Curlin Stakes and then ran fourth in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers Stakes. He subsequently was given some time off and returned with a two-length allowance win Jan. 11 at Gulfstream Park. Considering the three horses who finished ahead of him in the Travers – Code of Honor, Tacitus, and Mucho Gusto – and the impression he made visually in his return, Endorsed could be positioned nicely to spring a mild upset. He’s capable of stalking or closing, which could be a valuable asset if the pace is hot in the Santa Anita Handicap. He’d have to take a step forward from a speed-figure perspective, but that feels like a real possibility for a 4-year-old with limited experience.

Bet Endorsed in the Santa Anita Handicap.

2020 Santa Anita H.
March 7th, 2020

Winning Time: 2:02.32
  • Purse: $600,000
  • Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
  • Age: 4 yo's & up
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Winning Time: 2:02.32
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
6 Combatant
$21.20
$10.20
$4.00
2nd
1 Multiplier
$28.00
$6.40
3rd
5 Midcourt
$2.20
4th
3 Brown Storm (CHI)
  • Owner / Matriarca
  • Breeder / Haras Matriarca
5th
8 Endorsed
6th
7 Hofburg
7th
2 Two Thirty Five
Scratches
Payoff
Pick 3
4-1-6
4-1-6
$114
Daily Double
1-6
1-6
$95
Exacta
6-1
6-1
$187
Superfecta
6-1-5-3
6-1-5-3
$338
Trifecta
6-1-5
6-1-5
$285
X-5 Super High Five
6-1-5-3-8
6-1-5-3-8
$0
Race Replay
Play
Payoff
Pick 3
4-1-6
4-1-6
$114
Daily Double
1-6
1-6
$95
Exacta
6-1
6-1
$187
Superfecta
6-1-5-3
6-1-5-3
$338
Trifecta
6-1-5
6-1-5
$285
X-5 Super High Five
6-1-5-3-8
6-1-5-3-8
$0

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