Course specialists will be getting together in the $100,000 Morvich Handicap, Oak Tree's closing-day feature today at Santa Anita.
Five of the seven horses who will run in the Morvich have at least one win at this distance, about 61/2 furlongs, and the most accomplished is El Cielo.
A 7-year-old gelded son of El Prado trained by Craig Dollase for a partnership, El Cielo is the defending champion in the Morvich, one of his eight wins in 11 races down the hill in Arcadia.
In two of his losses, El Cielo was second, and in the other, he unseated Jose Valdivia Jr. at the start when he was the 1-1 favorite in an allowance race on March 21, 1999.
Valdivia, who had the biggest win of his career nine days ago on Val Royal in the Breeders' Cup Mile, hopes to maintain contact with El Cielo this afternoon as they try for their second win of the meet. On Oct. 5, the two teamed to win an allowance race by a neck at 3-5.
Among the other participants, Dream Counter, who hasn't run since last Dec. 8, is one for one on the course, King Slayer has won twice in nine races but has been second five times and third twice, Impressive Grades has a win and a third in three starts, and Islander has a win and a second in three races.
Race of the day: Players have one large field after another to wind things up before Hollywood Park opens Wednesday. Highlights include 2-year-old maiden fillies and 3-year-old claiming fillies coming down the hill and a contentious starter allowance contest at seven furlongs on the main track.
Who's hot: Laffit Pincay Jr. After winning five California Cup races in 2000, including his milestone 9,000th victory on the now-retired Chichim in the Distaff, the remarkable jockey won three more Cal Cup races on Saturday with Lil Sister Stich, Yougottawanna and Cee Dreams.
Who's not: The field in today's ninth. The 12 scheduled to run in the $25,000 maiden claimer have managed to go 0 for 125. Heading the list are Runaway Kidd (0 for 34) and Thunder Twice (0 for 30).
Exotically speaking: A pick four using Sylvan Girl, Starship Saratoga, the entry of Land Tax and Secret Index and Color Me Special in the sixth, singling Nicky's Intuition in the seventh, using El Cielo, Islander and Speak In Passing in the eighth and Swiss Banks Fraud, Fred Karno and Honest Ridge in the ninth.