Another 5 horse January Triple Crown prep but this one has a stand-out, Life is Good, who is on many early Derby Top 10 lists.  Here is the sheet for the race.

The first thing we notice from a race perspective is the race betting score is only a *2* due to the legitimate favorite, Life is Good, trained by Bob Baffert, who is 2/5 on the morning line.  All but his stable mate, Medina Spirit, are greater than 10 points slower in Energy which is a big gap.

Most importantly, we need to refer back to our Warning Sign Races blog.  I will cut and paste #2:  

  • There is a "K" horse in the race OR the morning line favorite has a RANK that starts with "1,1" or "1,2" and is not one of the top 2 horses in the top to bottom sort. The ODDS for these horses are too high and are giving false value to other horses in race. CAUTION.

This is exactly the situation we have here which occurs when we have a big & fast favorite stepping up significantly in class.   My PFDS Odds will not be accurate for this horse giving false value to the 2,3,4 in the race.

Let's look at the horses, favorite first.

Life is Good #5 - This horse went off at 1-5 in his MSW first start and ran fast early & late without trying.  He stretches out today from 6.5F to 8F but Baffert has been firing a string a 6F bullet drills in the morning.  No one that goes with this horse early will be around in the end.  The only negative I can find is that Gary West (who also uses Baffert) bred this horse and gave it up as a yearling for $525K.  Why?

Medina Spirit #1 - The Baffert stable mate also won his 5.5F debut in quick time.  However he is stretching out farther (PFDS% = 0.4) without the 6F workouts.  He won with "blinkers" on the lead and is now taking them off.  They want this modestly bred horse to be less aggressive early.  Cedillo & Baffert have an excellent win % and positive ROI together but I don't think this is the right bet.  He could take second.

Parnelli #3 - This is the second choice in the race at 5/2 which is too short to take against Life is Good.  This regally bred $500K horse took 3 starts to break his maiden (giving up the lead late twice) before finally winning in similar slow time.  He can take back off  Life is Good early but he's not fast enough early or late.  He's also less eligible for improvement.  A toss for me.

Waspirant #2 - Also trained by Shireffs, this Wygod home bred is highly thought of.  Off a win in his second start they decided to add blinkers.  They must not have liked something and wanted him to focus more.  But he ran poorly in the American Pharoah taking 4th at 6-1 odds.  Now the horse takes the blinkers back off and has 3 months of rest coming in to this.  This horse is eligible for significant improvement at 15-1 morning line and sits on top of my sheet with a BEST odds of 1.8-1.    Playable for a long-shot victory or underneath Life is Good.

Uncle Boogie #4 - Modestly bred horse started in Maiden Claiming winning easily.  In is 3rd start he lured top jockey Prat and ran a solid 2nd in a G3 stakes closing from last to 2nd gaining a couple lengths on the leader.  That is a better than looks effort.  Now he stretches out slightly from 7F at 12-1 morning line.  He may end up as the longest shot in the race and feel he will be closing strongly late.

Conclusion - Life is Good looks dominant and I expect an easy victory.  The upset chance goes to Waspirant who is eligible for major improvement at big odds.  I also think Uncle Boogie can close for 2nd at big odds.  Options for betting:  1) Partial wheel Life is Good on top of exactas.  I don't think Parnelli hits the exacta and that's where the value is. 2) Play Life is Good on top of Trifectas keying Waspirant and/or Uncle Boogie in 2nd/3rd with ALL in the other spot.  3)  Waspirant to win in an upset if you don't like betting favorites.  4) Single Life is Good in serial wagers for a free spot.

Should be a good card at Santa Anita tomorrow.  Good luck!