While Concert Tour just may be the headline act on a 4-stakes palooza at Santa Anita on Saturday, the encore act in the Race 8 Thunder Road Stakes might be the best betting race of the quartet. The Grade 3 turf mile has a field of 8 and follows directly on the card after the San Vicente Stakes for the ever-popular sophomore set.
CAMPAIGN and SOMBEYAY are Grade 3 winners, while BOB AND JACKIE and HEMBREE are Grade 2-placed and AWARD WINNER is Grade 3-placed. Arguably BOB AND JACKIE and CAMPAIGN have consistently kept the strongest running lines, along with RESTRAINEDVENGEANCE.
AWARD WINNER and BOB AND JACKIE break next door in posts 6-7 and are the only runners with interest in the front consistently. SOMBEYAY and RESTRAINED VENGEANCE should be forward from inside draws. This looks like a very comfortable pace for a turf mile and projects to be won near the front.
Trainer Peter Miller has been mired in a 2-39 slump at Santa Anita since Jan. 9 (heading into this week), which gives me some pause with his reps, SOMBEYAY and HEMBREE. One of those fleeting scores came with SOMBEYAY in allowance company Jan. 15 and he'll wheel back 3 weeks later. But jockey Flavien Prat jumps saddles to BORDER TOWN, another January turf mile allowance winner (for Richard Mandella). That BORDER TOWN has finished out of the money in 4 of his last 6 races doesn't give me confidence that he'll step up in class and handle a pace scenario that likely works against his late-running style.
BOB AND JACKIE rarely misfires and exits underneath placings in recent starts to Anothertwistafate and Mo Forza, either of which would be resoundingly favored in the Thunder Road if present. RIchard Baltas trains this lightly raced 5-year-old in just his 10th lifetime start. He's 3-6 going a mile and should be quite fit cutting back from 9 furlongs in the San Gabriel a month ago.
HIT THE ROAD won Del Mar's Oceanside in July and has been sidelined since. The Dan Blacker trainee has yet to face elders in stakes company, but he has done good work on the Santa Anita lawn. Umberto Rispoli is 2-2 since taking over the controls and will be back aboard the son of More Than Ready. This one's bred to be a mile specialist and has been to date.
CAMPAIGN has been absent 11 months since competing on dirt at Oaklawn. The John Sadler-trained son of Curlin has solid turf running lines and a damside pedigree colored plenty green. He's a deep, deep closer and suspect to have enough turn of foot to knock off turf milers without a meltdown.
Most Certain Exotics Contender: BOB AND JACKIE is 8-9 in the superfecta lifetime and had a terrible post and excuse in his lone career misfire. He should be forwardly placed throughout and the horse to beat in the lane.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender: RESTRAINEDVENGEANCE should get a good trip right off the pacemaker and he's delivered a 41-1 second in the City of Hope Mile and a 14-1 runner-up in the Del Mar Mile over the past 2 seasons. He'll be another healthy price for low-profile connections.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $60 win BOB AND JACKIE. $40 daily double dialing back to Race 7, using Concert Tour to BOB AND JACKIE (#6-#7).
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