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Check out our predictions and odds for the Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita!
T J Pereira
J J Hernandez
SPIRIT OF MAKENA
C Z ROCKET
*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.
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A lightly raced but talented 5-year-old, Spirit of Makena tops a field of seven older sprinters going 7-furlongs in Saturday’s Grade 2 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita.
Perfect in two starts this year, the son of Ghostzapper has looked good while winning a 6-furlong allowance in February and more recently, the Grade 3 San Carlos Stakes in March.
Both of those wins came over the Santa Anita main track. Never beaten in a sprint, the George Papaprodromou-trained runner defeated Forbidden Kingdom in the last.
That rival will once again square off with Spirit of Makena on Saturday. Although a year younger than the favorite, the Richard Mandella-trained Forbidden Kingdom is a multiple-graded stakes winner at Santa Anita.
His second-place finish in the San Carlos was his first start of the year. Before that he finished second behind Taiba in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes to close out his sophomore season.
Another to watch out for in the $200,000 Triple Bend is C Z Rocket. Still running well at the age of 9, the CIty Zip gelding finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint last fall at Keeneland.
Most recently, the earner of more than $2 million was second behind the top sprinter Dr. Schivel in a Santa Anita allowance race just two weeks ago.
This son of Ghostzapper clearly had some physical issues early on and did not make his career debut until the summer of his 4-year-old season. It looks like he was worth the wait.
Just a narrow head short of being undefeated in four career starts, his lone loss came when stretched out to a mile in his second career start. Back sprinting this year, he has been as impressive as any one-turn horse in California.
He will need another strong effort to win this in what should be his toughest test yet, but given his upward ascent, he is the horse to beat. He is the top pick.
Trained by the Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, this son of American Pharoah has been a classy individual since winning his career debut at Del Mar in the summer of 2021.
Twice a graded stakes winner over the track last year, it has been a while since he’s won, but he's still proving to be a formidable horse to catch in his recent races.
He will need to flip the script on Spirit of Makena this time, but that is certainly possible in his second start of the year. He will go right to the lead on Saturday, and it will be up to the others to run him down.
This accomplished veteran had some trouble when second to the classy Dr. Schivel last time, but still, he was no match for the winner, and it was only a three-horse field.
Might he finally be showing signs of slowing down at the age of 9? It’s hard to know for sure, as all three starts this year are decent, just not outstanding.
If the pace is fast on Saturday, it will help his chances. He is certainly a threat on his best, but I am going to side with others for the top spot.
Trained by Craig Dollase now for the last two starts, this son of Midnight Lute has looked very good for his new barn.
A 5 ¼-length allowance winner two starts back, he followed that up with a solid third-place finish behind Defunded in the Grade 2 Californian last month.
He will be cutting back to distance on Saturday, but the 7-furlong distance should suit him well. As good as his last two starts have been, he makes for a very interesting alternative to the favorites in the Triple Bend.
A graded stakes winner over C Z Rocket at Santa Anita last fall, this 6-year-old son of Secret Circle will be making his first start for new connections after being claimed for $100,000 out of his last race.
Although he had some trouble early in that optional claimer, he still did not run up to his ability and finished fourth. He will need to show improvement here for new trainer George Papaprodromou, who also trains the race favorite.
Considering his back class, and new barn, a bounce back performance is certainly possible. There are mixed signals here, but I cannot dismiss him.
A winner of seven races, this 7-year-old has had a nice career, including a trio of stakes wins the past two seasons. All of those stakes wins came against fellow California-breds, however, and this test will represent his first career try in a graded stakes race.
He did get a nice prep for this, when he came flying after traffic problems in a recent allowance race on turf. He should be ready for this, but looks to be a light on credentials compared to the top ones.
I believe he is more of a threat to round out the exotics, rather than coming home a winner on Saturday.
After spending the winter in Dubai, this Paynter gelding chased the speedy Brickyard Ride last time when third in the Grade 3 Kona Gold. It gets no easier this time around for the California-bred.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, he has had some good results sprinting, including a win in the Graduation Stakes back as a 2-year-old, but overall he has never been able to defeat a field like this.
There are too many others which I like better here to give him strong consideration in Saturday’s Triple Bend.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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