Effinex to race in the Santa Anita Handicap. Is he the top active thoroughbred in the world?

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Effinex wins the Clark Handicap – Photo Credit: Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs

March 4th 2016

With a number of the top North American thoroughbreds like California Chrome, Frosted, Keen Ice and Hoppertunity making the trek overseas to Dubai this year for the $10 million Dubai World Cup, it has put a damper on the potential field for what once was the richest horse race in the world–The Santa Anita Handicap. The ‘Big Cap is a prestigious race, the very first to offer $100,000 purse and one that has attracted some notable great horses like Seabiscuit, Citation, Affirmed and Spectacular Bid.

Yesterday, Effinex was confirmed as an entry in the 79th running of the Santa Anita Handicap. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens contemplated taking Effinex to Dubai for the World Cup race but wisely opted to stay “home” and focus on winning the one of the crown jewels of horse racing.

With the retirements of American Pharoah, Honor Code, Liam’s Map, Tonalist, et al, you can make a valid argument that Effinex is really the top older male horse entering 2016, especially by his last two starts in 2015. Honor Code won the Eclipse Older Male award for 2015. Effinex finished 4th in the voting behind Honor Code, Liam’s Map and Tonalist. But in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Effinex finished 2nd and ahead of Honor Code, Keen Ice, Tonalist, Frosted and Hard Aces. Then he went on to win the Clark Handicap in November (shown below), beating two Dubai bound horses in Hoppertunity and Keen Ice (for a second time).

Effinex can be temperamental and act up on occasion. He is sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of thoroughbreds as Wynn Las Vegas had him at 30/1 odds to win the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic in their last update. But the Jimmy Jerkens-trained 5 year-old has proven that he is a fighter and has beaten some of the best. I consider him along with Beholder and California Chrome as one of the top three 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders. A Santa Anita Handicap win could push him to #1 on my list.

Effinex – Career: 20 starts: 7-2-3-4, Win Pct: 35%, Top 3 Pct: 60%, Top 4%: 80%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2015 Gold Cup
Last Three Beyer Speed Figures: 104, 110, 95 – 103 Average
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1102015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $2,112,950

Effinex is expected to be joined by Imperative, up and coming Donworth and last year’s Gold Cup winner Hard Aces in the Santa Anita Handicap. Other nominations can be found HERE. I expect this year’s Big ‘Cap to be an exciting race if the San Antonio Stakes is any indication of what is in store.

Imperative – Career: 29 starts: 3-8-3-3, Win Pct: 10.3%, Top 3 Pct: 48.3%, Top 4%: 58.6%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.01 (calculated) – 2014 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 3rd – 2014 Gold Cup & 2014 Pacific Classic
Last Three Beyer Speed Figures: 105, 102, 97 – 101.3 Average
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1072015 Charles Town Classic
Career Earnings: $1,833,120

Donworth  Career: 5 starts 2-1-2-0, Win Pct: 40%, Top 3 Pct: 100%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: N/A
Last Three Beyer Speed Figures: 104, 95, 93 – 97.3 Average
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 1042016 San Antonio Stakes
Career Earnings: $164,000

Hard Aces – Career: 28 starts 6-3-7-3, Win Pct: 21.4%, Top 3 Pct: 57.1%, Top 4 Pct: 67.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.01 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2015 Gold Cup
Last Three Beyer Speed Figures: 98, 94, 104 – 98.7 Average
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $619,645

–Michael

 

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