While there is technically no Oak Tree Meeting this year in Southern California, what is being called the Santa Anita Autumn Meeting is rolling right along and they will be featuring the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby on their Saturday program. The race will have a full field of fourteen and will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Here is the analysis:
#1 Great Warrior- Won the Pomona Derby at Fairplex Park on September 24. That was the first win since a score in Brazil in November 2010 for this colt. Not fancied here.
#2 Northern Causeway- Rolling a three-race win streak entering this race, including the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby at Hastings Park on September 11. Appears to have plenty of speed, but likely won't get easy fractions in this one.
#3 Venomous- This British-bred seems like one to consider off a third two back at Deauville on a firm turf course. The soft going last out at Longchamp might not have been to his liking. Joel Rosario will have the riding assignment.
#4 Arraignment- Gelding has hit the board in 7 of 8 lifetime races, but all of them have been over the short oval at Hastings and all of them have also been on the dirt. Was 78-1 while running third behind #2 in the BC Derby.
#5 Dreamy Kid- Ran 6th in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby last time out in first turf try on September 4. However, he ended up only 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner in what was a blanket finish. Will need an honest pace to close into to be a contender.
#6 Thirtyfirststreet- Led late two back in the Grade 3 La Jolla at Del Mar before settling for third place. Will likely be part of the pace scenario in here. Only career turf win came in the ungraded Lone Star Derby on May 30.
#7 Lil Bit O'Fun- 2nd in the aforementioned Grade 3 La Jolla. Also a strong come-from-behind runner. Trainer Thomas Proctor is winning at a 20% clip in 2011. This gelding has not won since a victory over yielding turf at Indiana Downs in June.
#8 Ultimate Eagle- Broke he maiden on the Del Mar lawn two back and followed it up with and Optional Claiming score on September 3. Currently 2 for 2 on the turf in his career, I would be hard-pressed to think he contends here with any competing speed and better foes.
#9 Akkadian- Might be the most likely of the longshots in this spot. This is the 2nd start off the last layoff and posted a strong workout on October 7. The Sire is two-time BC Classic winner, Tiznow.
#10 Theresmyeverything- This one will undoubtedly be part of the early speed in here. The Eoin Harty is nothing if not fast. He won a turf sprint at Saratoga on August 13 and followed it up with a good second with Allowance company at Belmont on September 19.
#11 Cozy Kitten- It is difficult to dismiss any Ramsey-owned horse that has Kitten's Joy in the lineage, but I am going to do it here. His speed figures just don't seem to match up with the remainder of the better ones in this Derby. Ran 7th in last Graded effort, the American Turf at Churchill.
#12 Cloud Man- Mike Smith will ride this colt that posted a 93 Beyer two back in victory over the turf at Del Mar on July 22. Part of the cluster of horses at the finish in the Del Mar Derby, winding up 4th. He also has a win over the Santa Anita turf, which only three in this field have.
#13 Midnight Interlude- Should be the betting favorite in here. Has rediscovered his form since transferring to the turf after disappointing Triple Crown season. Rafael Bejarano is in the saddle for trainer Bob Baffert.
#14 Surrey Star- Irish-bred that has been off since August, but his last win was in an ungraded stakes race over this Santa Anita grass. Chantal Sutherland has the riding assignment on this colt.
TOP FOUR SELECTIONS: 12-3-13-9
Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!