2021 Santa Anita Handicap Cheat Sheet

Racing
Express Train, left, and Maxfield, right, are two of the leading contenders for the 2021 Santa Anita Handicap Saturday at Santa Anita Park. (Eclipse Sportswire/Hodges Photography/Amanda Hodges Weir)

The eyes of the racing world will shift westward this Saturday as Santa Anita Park will host the Grade 1, $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap. This 1 ¼-mile contest was first held in 1935, when its $100,000 purse (equivalent to $1.9 million today) made it the world’s richest race.

Since then, it’s been won by some of racing’s greats, including Seabiscuit, Round Table, Ack Ack, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, John HenryAlysheba, and Game On Dude. Three winners of the Big ’Cap have gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at year’s end: Alysheba in 1988, Tiznow in 2001, and Accelerate in 2018.

This year’s renewal has an extra twist, as it begins the Wild West series in California. If a horse wins the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and the Pacific Classic, they will receive a $1 million bonus.

Get an Instant $10 and up to $500 Bonus when you sign up and bet the Santa Anita Handicap with 1/ST BET! Visit 1st.com/bet/cheatsheet and use promo code 500ABR to get started. Once you have signed up, you'll get an instant $10 in your account, free, and you can get an extra $10 for every $100 wagered, up to $500. That way, once you get to know the Santa Anita Handicap horses in this handy Cheat Sheet, you can stop by 1st.com/bet/cheatsheet and place your bets on Saturday, March 6. Plus, you can take advantage of 1/ST BET’s other promotions at 1st.com/bet/promotions. So no matter what horse you pick, your best bet is with 1/ST BET.

The Santa Anita Handicap will be featured on America’s Best Racing’s “Road to the Derby!” broadcast, hosted by Dan Tordjman, Bram Weinstein, and Matt Bernier. You can tune in on America's Best Racing’s YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook pages, starting at 5:30 PM ET.

Let’s meet the field for this year’s Santa Anita Handicap.


1. Independence Hall (4-1 morning-line odds)

Eclipse Sportswire

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Michael McCarthy

Owner: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Kathleen Verratti, and Robert N. Verratti

Career Record: 8 starts - 4 wins - 1 second - 1 third

Career Earnings: $606,600

Earnings Per Start: $75,825

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Constitution – Kalahari Cat, by Cape Town

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running Style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: At this time last year, Independence Hall looked like a promising Kentucky Derby contender. He won the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct as a 2-year-old by 12 ¼ lengths, then followed it up with a win in the Jerome Stakes and a second-place finish in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. However, he has not won a stakes race since then. He was a flat fifth in the Runhappy Malibu Stakes two starts back, then finished third in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes behind freewheeling Knicks Go. He’s shown lots of glimmers of potential, including career-top figures in two of his last three races. This will be his second start against open company in a graded stakes race, and he’s facing a softer field this time around. He should rate just off the leaders and pack a strong punch turning for home.

Bet Independence Hall in the Santa Anita Handicap.


2. Maxfield (8-5)

Lou Hodges, Jr. /Hodges Photography

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Brendan Walsh

Owner: Godolphin

Career Record: 5 starts - 5 wins - 0 seconds - 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $615,262

Earnings Per Start: $123,052

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: Street Sense – Velvety, by Bernardini

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running Style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Perhaps the most famous member of the field, Maxfield carries an unblemished record into this year’s Santa Anita Handicap. Fans first became acquainted with him when he won the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October 2019. Due to recurring physical problems, he’s only raced three times since then. Most recently, he won the Grade 3 Mineshaft Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 13. It’s interesting to see Maxfield in this spot, as he’ll enter the Big ’Cap off a 21-day layoff. This is somewhat unusual for him as he’s generally had lots of time off between his races. His speed figure has improved in each of his five starts, peaking at a 111 in his last-out win. If he can keep moving forward here, the rest of the field may have its hands full.

Bet Maxfield in the Santa Anita Handicap.


3. Kiss Today Goodbye (8-1)

BENOIT photo

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Eric Kruljac

Owner: John Sondereker

Career Record: 12 starts - 3 wins - 0 seconds - 3 thirds

Career Earnings: $280,802

Earnings Per Start: $23,400

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: Cairo Prince – Savvy Hester, by Heatseeker

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running Style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Kiss Today Goodbye burst on the scene in late December, with a 15.80-1 upset win in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes. He did it honestly, closing from last off a moderate tempo to win by half a length over Idol. In his next start, Kiss Today Goodbye went east for the Pegasus World Cup but was a nonthreatening seventh. He’s shown plenty of signs of life on the dirt at Santa Anita, consistently running Equibase Speed Figures in the 100s while making grinding, determined rallies. He’s another one who might get outkicked by classier rivals, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see him rally to win this one. Jockey Mike Smith won the Santa Anita Handicap in 2013 and ’14 on Game On Dude and again in ’15 on Shared Belief.

Bet Kiss Today Goodbye in the Santa Anita Handicap.


4. Coastal Defense (15-1)

Coady Photography

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables and Helen K. Groves Revocable Trust

Career Record: 10 starts - 2 wins - 2 seconds - 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $155,266

Earnings Per Start: $15,527

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Color: Chestnut

Age: 5

Running Style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A late bloomer, Coastal Defense did not make his debut until February of his 4-year-old season. He broke his maiden last June, then impressively won a first-level allowance race at Churchill Downs in September. Since then, he’s missed the top three in three consecutive graded stakes. Perhaps his best race came in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes Presented by Norton Healthcare at Churchill last fall, where he loomed menacingly in the stretch and finished 2 ¼ lengths behind winner Bodexpress. He’ll look to rebound off a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup last out. Even if he gets back to his career-best form, he might have to improve several points further to win this race.

Bet Coastal Defense in the Santa Anita Handicap.


5. Express Train (3-1)

BENOIT photo

Jockey: Juan Hernandez

Trainer: John Shirreffs

Owner: C R K Stable

Career Record: 8 starts - 3 wins - 3 seconds - 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $293,300

Earnings Per Start: $36,663

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Union Rags – I’m a Flake, by Mineshaft

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running Style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Express Train is the probable second choice in the field behind Maxfield. He enters off a sharp win in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes, where he chased down front-running Tizamagician for an impressive 3 ¼-length win. In the start prior, he finished second in the Malibu Stakes behind impressive winner Charlatan. In the summer and fall, he ran back-to-back Equibase figures of 110 at Del Mar and Santa Anita. This will be his third start off the layoff, which is usually a time when horses round into peak form. He’s also had experience over this track, unlike Maxfield who has spent most of his career in the Midwest. If you’re looking for an alternative to the expected heavy favorite, Express Train is your best bet.

Bet Express Train in the Santa Anita Handicap.


6. Idol (6-1)

Coady Photography

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Richard Baltas

Owner: Calvin Nguyen

Career Record: 5 starts - 2 wins - 2 seconds - 1 third

Career Earnings: $176,464

Earnings Per Start: $35,293

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 105

Pedigree: Curlin – Marion Ravenwood, by A.P. Indy

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running Style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Another lightly-raced sort, Idol did not make his first start until Sept. 5, 2020, when he was second in a maiden race on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve undercard at Churchill Downs. Since then, he’s shown signs of promise, finishing second in two graded stakes at Santa Anita. Most recently, he rated in mid-pack off the slow pace set by Tizamagician. Although he made a move after the leader, he got outkicked by Express Train who beat him by 3 ¼ lengths. He steadily runs Equibase Speed Figures in the low-to-mid 100s range, with his peak figure coming in a first-level allowance win at Churchill Downs last November. He’s been disadvantaged by the pace in his last few starts and, while you can’t necessarily hold it against him, it’s also true that the pace scenario on paper doesn't look much different here than it has in his last few races. As such, he might have to close into a slow pace again and I’m not sure if his finishing kick is strong enough to pull it off. He’s a better candidate for exacta and trifecta players. Jockey Joel Rosario has won the last two editions of the Santa Anita Handicap with Gift Box (2019) and Combatant (2020).

Bet Idol in the Santa Anita Handicap.


7. Tizamagician (12-1)

Eclipse Sportswire

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Trainer: Richard Mandella

Owners: MyRacehorse adnd Spendthrift Farm

Career Record: 14 starts - 3 wins - 6 seconds - 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $219,851

Earnings Per Start: $15,704

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 105

Pedigree: Tiznow – Magic Union, by Dixie Union

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running Style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Tizamagician almost wired the field in the San Pasqual last out. He went out to the front and led most of the way while setting comfortable fractions. Despite the slow tempo, which included a half-mile in 48.74 seconds, he did not have a response for the closers, barely holding on to second. He’s raced well at longer distances before, having finished second in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup last September. In two of his last four races, he led from start to finish in victories. It’s very likely that he’s going to set the pace here. The question is, will he have enough left in the end to hold off the closers? He’s done well against softer competition, but graded stakes have thus far proved too much for him. I imagine the same scenario will unfold here. Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella won the Big ’Cap in 1997 with Siphon, 1998 with Malek, and 2005 with Rock Hard Ten.

Bet Tizamagician in the Santa Anita Handicap.


8. King Guillermo (12-1)

SV Photography

Jockey: Abel Cedillo

Trainer: Juan Carlos Avila

Owner: Victoria’s Ranch

Career Record: 7 starts - 2 wins - 1 second - 1 third

Career Earnings: $359,350

Earnings Per Start: $51,336

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – Slow Sand, by Dixieland Band

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running Style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: King Guillermo made waves last March when he won the Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby in a 49.20-1 upset for retired Major League Baseball All-Star Victor Martinez (Victoria’s Ranch). Since then, he’s only raced three times and none of those races were particularly inspiring. Most recently in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes, he raced wide the whole way and was soundly defeated by 21 ¾ lengths. If he can manage an easier trip here, he should improve but in both of his races against older horses, as opposed to the 3-year-olds King Guillermo faced last year, he has struggled. That win in the Tampa Bay Derby was against much inferior competition to what he’ll face here. He may simply be outclassed in this spot.

Bet King Guillermo in the Santa Anita Handicap.

2021 Santa Anita H.
March 6th, 2021

Winning Time: 2:02.46
  • Purse: $400,000
  • Distance: 1 1/4 Miles
  • Age: 4 yo's & up
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Winning Time: 2:02.46
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
6 Idol
$12.80
$6.40
$3.40
2nd
5 Express Train
$5.40
$2.80
3rd
2 Maxfield
$2.40
5th
7 Tizamagician
6th
3 Kiss Today Goodbye
7th
4 Coastal Defense
8th
8 King Guillermo
Payoff
Pick 3
6-2-6
6-2-6
$134
Daily Double
2-6
2-6
$71
Exacta
6-5
6-5
$24
Superfecta
6-5-2-1
6-5-2-1
$20
Super High Five
6-5-2-1-7
6-5-2-1-7
$919
Trifecta
6-5-2
6-5-2
$39
Race Replay
Play
Payoff
Pick 3
6-2-6
6-2-6
$134
Daily Double
2-6
2-6
$71
Exacta
6-5
6-5
$24
Superfecta
6-5-2-1
6-5-2-1
$20
Super High Five
6-5-2-1-7
6-5-2-1-7
$919
Trifecta
6-5-2
6-5-2
$39

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