By Sean Morris

Santa Anita Oaks Picks: Soothsay the value play

By Sean Morris
The Santa Anita Oaks features a compact but talented field
The Santa Anita Oaks features a compact but talented field

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The $400,000 Grade II Santa Anita Oaks has attracted a small field of five horses this year.

Our in-house handicapper takes us through his thoughts as he previews the race and offers up his picks coupled with our Race Card below...

Santa Anita Park Race 6 14:30 ET

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A small but intriguing field of 3-year-old fillies has lined up for the G2 Santa Anita Oaks in what feels like a historically bad year for this division. The two obvious contenders in this race are Beautiful Gift (#5) and Moraz (#1), who finished first and second, respectively, last out in the G3 Santa Ysabel over this track. These two put some distance between them and race favorite Kalypso, who finished three lengths back in third, and the winner earned a very respectable Beyer of 87, however it was a small field and I’m just not entirely sold on it. I do think both of these fillies are a legitimate threat to win here, and after all this is a pretty soft spot, too, but I think they’re going to be overbet and I’m a little skeptical of their quality.

Javanica (#4) seems like a logical alternative to this pair. This filly has run consistently well on turf and synth in her career and even finished a game second in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, a neck behind Rombauer, who is a contender in the G2 Blue Grass at Keeneland on Saturday. I respect Javanica, but she’s already starting to rack up an alarming amount of second-place finishes, and though she does have some pedigree to handle dirt, I doubt it’s going to be her preferred surface. I think she’s best left off wagers if she’s going to be around her morning-line odds of 5-2, but I could envision using her if she drifts up from there.

Given the questionable merits of everyone in this compact field, I believe this race is ripe for an upset, which is why I’m picking second-time starter Soothsay (#3). There’s no doubt this filly needs to improve off a six-furlongs debut win that netted her a 72 Beyer, but I believe she’s in a prime position to do so. For one, she should absolutely appreciate the added ground of the Santa Anita Oaks as she’s bred to go longer, and her trainer Richard Mandella has been on a tear at Santa Anita so far this year. I’m anticipating a good deal of improvement from Soothsay, which should put her squarely in the mix as possibly the longest shot on the board. That’s good enough for me to give her the nod.

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