There are races to bet and there are races to just watch, and I won't have any action on Saturday's Grade II San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita. ... it will feature Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy, the likely 2-year-old champion and the winter-book favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
Merv Griffin's gifted and promising colt undoubtedly will be odds-on in his 3-year-old debut, and it will be no shock if he blows away five seemingly overmatched rivals. Win or lose, as long as he doesn't hurt himself, the mile San Rafael won't count for much down the road. I can't see a reason to bet on it, though.
For the most part, I am in total agreement. Stevie Wonderboy looks like he should easily defeat the field. And you, me and Auntie Barb and her cookie jar money will only make a few dimes for every couple of dollars wagered.
But remember, when we saunter up to the mutuel windows and plop down a few dollars on a horse, it is called gambling.
And it is this type of race that I am willing to gamble a small but worthy few dollars on the prospect that (a) Garrett Gomez falls out of the saddle, (b) Stevie Wonderboy really doesn't like the idea of actually racing around two turns, or (c) there may actually be another horse out there on this particular day, at this particular moment of time when the Earth, sun, moon, and Neptune are in perfect alignment, will beat Stevie Wonderboy.
So what is my cheap-o plan? Brother Derek, a heavily favored second, looks pretty tough. He's a graded stakes winner around two turns. Granted, sandwiched between his Norfolk win and the Hollywood Futurity win was the Breeders' Cup and his loss to Stevie Wonderboy. But maybe October in New York wasn't Brother Derek's style? Maybe a field of 14 was just too much of a party for him? To me, that will be worth a couple of dollars on a Win wager.
I also like Wanna Runner. He has won his last two as routes, and Bob Baffert is winning 26% at Santa Anita. His Won Last Start statistics (29%) is indicative that he's placing his horses where he believes that they belong.
Thus, I will gamble a cheap exacta box, Brother Derek and Wanna Runner.
And toss in a cheap Show wager on Sailors Sunset if he goes off at ridiculously high odds, on the premise that there isn't any reason that he can't move forward on his third career race. And he's a gray.
So unlike my favorite turf writer on the planet, I will be wagering on the San Rafael. I'm anxious to see Stevie Wonderboy's 2006 debut and his highly anticipated start toward the Kentucky Derby. And if he wins as expected, hey, I'm only out a little beer money.