Keeneland Select Pick of the Day | February 8, 2020
Race 7 at Santa Anita | Saturday, February 8 | Post Time 6:31 PM Eastern Time
Thunder Road Stakes – Grade 3| Purse $100,000 | One Mile on Turf | Four Year Olds and Upward
In my opinion the main reason morning line maker Jon White set starting odds of 8/1 on Mugaritz (5) is the public will note in his last race he finished last of seven, beaten 23 lengths. However, what the public will fail to note is that race was the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes, on dirt, won by multiple stakes winner Gift Box, with stakes winner Midcourt (who won another stakes since then) finishing third. Although Mugaritz won on dirt in October he was off the board in two prior dirt starts and again in the San Antonio. Dirt is NOT his preferred surface. Mugaritz prefers turf and all-weather, where he is 2 for 2 on the former and 5 for 8 on the latter. Back on turf and shipping down for high percentage trainer Wong, Mugaritz gets Mike Smith to ride, which is notable in and of itself. Also notable is the horse’s most recent workout, a very strong fourth best of 70 five furlong drill before leaving the trainer’s base at Golden Gate, where he returned to after his poor San Antonio effort. For a trainer of this caliber to ship to Northern California then back to Southern California and to get a top jockey speaks volumes for trainer intent. Considering Mugaritz won a grade 3 stakes at Golden Gate, like this grade 3, before the San Antonio, and that he earned a career best and very strong (compared to most in this field) 111 Equibase figure, I think this horse with an overall 7 for 10 record on turf or all-weather, deserves top billing.
Ronald R. (1) returns from a two month layoff and the last time he came back from a layoff, last July, he won, before putting in two more wins all on turf including the Lure Stakes at this mile trip in October with a 115 figure. Van Dyke was aboard for all the wins and is back in the saddle today and with the horse having put in a nice series of workouts for his return, capped by a fine three furlong blowout on February 5, he must be considered a strong contender, also opening at odds which behoove betting him to win and using him on exotic tickets, of 6/1 on the morning line.
Majestic Eagle (3) stalked the early leader in second in last month’s San Gabriel Stakes at nine furlongs on turf, from the start until just before an eighth of a mile to go, where he made the lead by a head. Unfortunately, he found the nine furlong too far as he was passed late and beaten by a neck and another length and one-half while ending up third. Still, he led at the point this mile race ends, and he won the Grade 3 American Stakes last June at this mile trip, essentially an identical race to this one, with a 107 figure. Making his third start off a layoff, there’s more physical improvement to show us and as such Majestic Eagle rounds out a trio of top contenders in this race.
Win Bets: Mugaritz (5) to win at odds of 2/1 or higher.
A second win bet, on either Ronald R (1) or Majestic Eagle (3), whichever is the higher odds and at least 3 to 1 or more near post time, is warranted.
Box Mugaritz (5), Ronald R (1), Majestic Eagle (3) and Frontier Market (7).
Box Mugaritz (5), Ronald R (1), Majestic Eagle (3) and Camino Del Paraiso (8).