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2017 Santa Anita Handicap Preview, Entries & Odds – The G1 Santa Anita Handicap will be run this Saturday, March 11 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. A nice purse of $750,000 will be up for grabs for horses four years old and upward willing to go 1 1/4 miles on Santa Anita’s dirt track.

A competitive field of nine have been confirmed for the Big Cap – race 10 in Santa Anita’s stacked Saturday schedule. Post time is 5:00 PM. Let’s take a brief look into the past performances of all nine combatants for this interesting G1 stakes.

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2017 Santa Anita Handicap Entries at Santa Anita Park

Shaman Ghost – Canada’s Sovereign Award winner for 2015 Champion 3 Year Old Colt won his country’s biggest race that year – the Queen’s Plate and also posted a nice win in the G3 Marine Stakes at Woodbine in May, 2015. His last race of 2015 was second in the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown – the Prince of Wales Stakes in July before being sent to the sidelines for 10 months. He returned to action May 21 and finished an OK third in an Allowance Optional Claiming and followed that with an easy win in the G2 Brooklyn Invitational June 11. He has remained competitive – a runner-up finish to the terrific Arrogate last time out in the G1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park January 28 followed a decent third in the G1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs November 25, a good win with a 112 Beyer Speed Figure in the G1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga September 3 and a bit of a step back – a fifth in the G2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park July 9. Shaman Ghost now has six wins, two seconds and two third place finishes in 14 career starts and has placed in nine of his last 10 starts overall with Javier Castellano in the reins of the co-highweight from post 3.

Midnight Storm – won the G2 Del Mar Derby in August, 2014 for trainer Phil D’Amato and had a second in the 2015 G1 Shoemaker and has caught fire again in his last three starts overall. He enters this week having won five of his last six starts – he won the G2 San Pasqual Stakes last time out by 1 1/4 lengths here January 1, posted a win in by an impressive 7 3/4 lengths in the G3 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar November 27 and had OK third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He also had wins in the G2 Del Mar Mile August 21, the G2 Eddie Read Stakes July 17 and in the 2016 G1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita June 4. Midnight Storm now has 10 wins, three seconds and a third place finish in 21 career starts and has been competitive as they come the last 10 months. He tries to keep an impressive run going Saturday with Rafael Bejarano guiding the other 122 co-highweight from the rail.

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Isotherm – has three wins, two seconds and a third place finish in 12 career starts for trainer George Weaver. He was last seen winning the G2 San Marcos Stakes over many of his Big Cap foes after a fourth in the G2 Mathis Brothers Mile, a disappointing ninth in the G1 Hollywood Derby December 3 and an eighth in the minor English Channel Stakes at Belmont Park October 23. He also had a respectable second in the G2 Commonwealth Derby at Laurel Park September 24, a quality third in the G3 Saranac Stakes at Saratoga September 3 and an OK fifth in the G2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes in August. Other results include a good second in the G3 Dania Beach Stakes with a career best 87 Beyer Speed Figure at Gulfstream Park last January, an eleventh in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a breakthrough win in the G3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park September 26, 2015. Isotherm was OK early in his career and showed last time out that he may be ready to go on another streak. Flavien Prat gets the call from gate 4.

Hard Aces – defending runner-up in this race John Sadler trainee won the 2015 G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita in upset fashion and hadn’t posted another win until six starts back when he won the G3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar July 24. He followed that with a dud – an eighth, 25 lengths back in the G1 Pacific Classic August 20 but has been up and down since. Last time out was a fifth in the G2 San Antonio Stakes here February 4 which followed a third in the G3 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar November 27, a second in the G2 Marathon Stakes here November 4 and a fourth in the G1 Awesome Again Stakes on this track in October. He also had a third in the 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 25, a respectable second in the G2 Californian Stakes May 22, a disappointing seventh in the G2 Charles Town Classic April 23 and that decent second with an impressive 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap March 12. Hard Aces now has seven wins, six seconds and nine third place finishes in 38 career starts and has placed in five of his last eight starts overall. He tries to snap a five race losing streak and for his third win in 21 months with Victor Espinoza in the saddle from post 5.

Twentytwentyvision – has hit the board in 15 of 16 career starts for trainer Richard Mandella – five wins, three seconds and seven third place finishes. He arrives off his worst result in a while – a seventh in the G2 San Marcos Stakes here February 4 which followed consecutive thirds – the minor Lure Stakes here October 30 and the G2 John Henry Turf Championship on this track October 2. Before that was a nice win in the minor Rolling Green Stakes at Golden Gate September 5, a third in the G1 Shoemaker Mile June 4, another third in the G3 American Stakes in May and a runner-up finish in the G3 Thunder Road Stakes in April – all on this track. Twentytwentyvision had been competitive every time out before last time out and will still be after his first ever graded stakes score Saturday with Mike Smith guiding him from post 7.

Imperative – defending fourth place finisher in this race finished second behind Dortmund in the 2015 Charles Town Classic in April (a race he won in 2014 at 26-1 odds and a race he finished fourth in 2016). He has alternated wins and sixth place finishes in his last four starts – a win last time out over Stanford in the minor Poseidon Handicap at Gulfstream January 28 followed a sixth in the G2 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar November 27, a nice win in the minor Big Bear Stakes here November 3 and a sixth in the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. A year ago Imperative had three straight runner-up finishes – a nose behind Hoppertunity in the G2 San Antonio Stakes February 6, in the G2 San Pasqual Stakes January 9 and in the G3 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar November 28. Imperative has certainly been up and down but will be searching for his first graded stakes score (second straight stakes overall) in nearly three years Saturday. Antonio Gallardo gets the call from the outside post 9.

Follow Me Crev – Vladimir Cerin trained gelding has six wins, three seconds and three third place finishes in 19 career starts and enters off an Allowance Optional Claiming score on this track February 20. Before that was a fourth in the G2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar July 23, a non threatening fifth in the G2 Californian Stakes at Santa Anita May 22 and four straight wins – all Allowance races with the last one coming by 2 1/2 lengths here February 14. His only other graded stakes action results in a fourth place finish in the G2 Los Alamitos Derby in July, 2015. Follow Me Crev has placed in seven of his last nine starts overall and will be hoping for his first podium finish in a graded stakes race. Kent Desormeaux has the mount from gate 6.

Hi Happy – Argentinean bred colt was dominant in his first six career starts at home – six wins including four Group 1 victories and a Group 2 – the prestigious Group 1 Carlos Pellegrini in December, 2015,the Group 1 Nacional in November, 2015 the Group 1 Jockey Club a month before that and the Group 2 Ensayo included. Hi Happy has two North American starts and hasn’t been nearly as impressive – a fourth last time out in the G2 San Marcos Stakes on this track February 4 followed a seventh in his North American debut – the G2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar in November. Hi Happy tries to channel some of his momentum from home and hopes to hit the board for the first time on North American soil Saturday with Altair Domingos in the irons from gate 8.

Gangster – lightly raced Doug O’Neill trainee has two wins and a second place finish in eight career starts. He makes his stakes debut Saturday off a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming February 4 and a fourth in a similar race January 2 – both on this track. He had an Allowance Optional Claiming score before that at Del Mar in November but failed to place in his three previous starts. Gangster has been just OK and looks like he will be in over his head in this one. Mario Gutierrez rides from gate 2.

2017 Santa Anita Handicap Odds & Entries

Race 10 on Santa Anita’s Saturday card with a Post Time of 7:30 PM.

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Midnight Storm 8-5 Rafael Bejarano Philip D’Amato
2 Gangster 30-1 Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill
3 Shaman Ghost 2-1 Javier Castellano James Jerkens
4 Isotherm 12-1 Flavien Prat George Weaver
5 Hard Aces 15-1 Victor Espinoza John Sadler
6 Follow Me Crev 8-1 Kent Desormeaux Vladimir Cerin
7 Twentytwentyvision 12-1 Mike Smith Richard Mandella
8 Hi Happy (ARG) 12-1 Altair Domingos Felipe Souza
9 Imperative 5-1 Antonio Gallardo Robert Hess, Jr.

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