December 21, 2001

Do Not Open Until the Day After Xmas
On behalf of the staff of On-Line at the Short Line, we wish you a joyous and prosperous set of holidays. It is our pleasure to be able to give to you each week of the year, and this week is no different. Following is what our scouts suggest you look out for during the coming big winter-spring meet at Santa Anita, which opens this coming Wednesday, Dec. 26 -- as always, the day after Christmas. Greetings of the season, and enjoy!

The Track
As is the case at most distances at all the Southern California tracks, you don't want to be too far from the front. Six furlongs is always tilted toward early speed, and six and a half isn't much different. But the seven-furlong rally specialists who were repeatedly coming up short at Hollywood Park's early-speed-friendly seven-furlong trip will appreciate getting back to Santa Anita. They'll have a chance, as will route-to-sprint turnbacks who were thwarted by the conveyor-belt nature of the Hollywood Park mile-and-a-sixteenth trip.

The routes were a little fairer in 2001 than in 2000, but the overall trend remains toward quality, contending early speed -- the deep rally still doesn't win anything close to what the early and stalking trips win.

The Turf
The unique downhill race is about the fairest turf sprint you'll ever see. It's possible to win from in front, in the middle and in the final furlong. Regardless of running style, one thing is certain: the final furlong is always an adventure, whether you're trying to hang on on the lead, or run down the front speed.

Like most turf routes, front speed is the least effective way to go, and first-quarter leaders are literally hard-pressed to stick around all the way to the wire. Horses that have some work to do in the final furlong are at no disadvantage; they can get up in plenty of time.

The Slop
Santa Anita is unique in Southern California because it plays host every now and again to inhospitable weather. You can't say that about Hollywood or Del Mar or Fairplex. But the track at Arcadia comes up sloppy, muddy or wet-fast more than a few times during the main meet.

An off main track retains most of its dry-fast characteristics, though middle moves are essentially doomed -- look either for the frontrunners or the stone closers. At six and a half furlongs in the wet, it's solely about speed. Likewise the flat-mile trip in the goo -- all early speed, all the time.

Upset-minded trainers to look out for in the wet include the great Bob Baffert, Bill Spawr, Warren Stute, Jenine Sahadi and Vladimir Cerin. Jockeys who sparkle in the rain and move up their longshots are Tyler Baze, Omar Berrio and Matt Garcia. The last two can be expected to be routinely overlooked.

The Three-Year-Olds
Adding to the excitement at Santa Anita is the unveiling or sudden blossoming (or both, in the case of mercurial-types) of the best three-year-olds in the country. Even if they're not the cream of the crop, three-year-olds are special, developing animals who need the best of care. Last year, four conditioners regularly staged better-than-expected performances from their sophomores on the dirt: Jack Carava, Donald Warren, Tim Pinfield and Baffert. On turf, Craig Lewis was routinely adept at getting turf debutantes to fire.

Many of the three-year-olds will be trying things for the first time, such as a distance of ground or the turf. First-route specialists included Baffert, Pinfield, James Cassidy, John Sadler and Laura De Seroux. First-turf trainers to look out for were Sadler, Ted West and Richard Mandella.

New Cramer Booklet
Hey, kinkmeisters! Some good news for you. Mark Cramer's newest booklet, authoritatively titled Hidden Probabilities: Hard-Core Research for X-Rated Horseplayers, is in the final stages of editing and is headed for a publication date of Jan. 2 by Cynthia Publishing.

In inimitable Cramer style and packed with unique research, Galileo-inspired thinking and writing (with high-level concepts made easy to grasp, thanks to Cramer's renowned facility with the English language), this new booklet is an ambitious blend of the nearly mechanical, the almost-magical and the fully inspired. That's because our friend Cramer takes 10 time-honored and simple handicapping concepts and pulses them through the kink-o-master machine, coming up with a stunning creation of staggering beauty and elegance that's good enough to eat.

Whoa. That's just plain silly. But you get the idea. Kinky, Quick and Dirty: Uncovering Racing's Hidden Probabilities is going to be another valuable addition to the handicapping literature, courtesy of someone who knows how to do just that.

For more details or for ordering information, click on this link (address: and select one of the very special offers available before Jan. 2, including a super-duper deal for current C&X Report subscribers or those who want to holiday-bundle the new booklet along with a new subscription. Definitely check it out.

New Contest Is for the Long Run
If you prefer a route of ground to a one-turn sprint, the current edition of the Big-Prize Handicapping Contest is for you! For more details, please click here.

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