Santa Anita Park, known as "The Great Race Place," cranks up again for what promises to be a wonderful weekend of racing under the mountain range. As customary, our turf-man is along throughout the Meet making picks for the entire card and providing select analysis of some of the key races. Enjoy!
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Thursday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Most Likely Winner: (Race 1: Clearly Gone #7, 2/1):
It looks like trainer Peter Miller has an entry here that has all the makings for a “deserving favorite.” With a solid turf pedigree, Clearly Gone #1 should get the win with Flavien Prat riding. The class drop is not too drastic, and I would imagine that after a 2nd place finish last time, this veteran mare can take it to the house here. Miller is good in these spots on the grass, and his runner looks primed for a strike.
Wager: $100 Win, #7
Favorite I Am Against: (Race 3: Laura’s Light #4, 5/2):
I might have been “for” a Peter Miller entry above, but now I am flipping, and decidedly against one of his in this spot. There is no doubt that Laura’s Light #4 is classy after a 2020 campaign that included some major races across the SoCal sod courses. Those were mostly of the “Graded” variety, and to start her 4-yr-old run, it makes sense to give her a freshening in this race. It is not a foregone conclusion that she will win though. That’s because other, better priced entries, will give her all she can handle. One of those is JJ Hernandez’s new mount from the barn of Ron McAnally, She’s Our Charm #8. He was this mare’s regular rider during the fall. Getting him back aboard this McAnally homebred is a major plus. She has some nice class running in the Matriarch (G1) @DMR and the Frankel (G3) @SA. If I could get 6/1, that would be excellent. One other I like very much that is also drawn to the outside is Dan Blacker’s first out with his barn, Trickle In #9. This import from Mike Stidham looks like one to back for several reasons. Her new conditioner just scored his first Grade I victory last weekend in the Kilroe Mile @SA, and I find that when trainers do something like that, wins begin to come in batches. Blacker has always been a very good trainer, and I see him advancing even further down the road. I know this 4-yr-old filly has not hit the track since last summer, but with her works, she could come in at a price and do some damage with Tyler Baze riding.
Wager: $1 Trifecta Box, 4/8/9
Off-the-Pace Play of the Day: (Race 5: Tizhotndusty #3, 8/1):
Last out, Eric Kruljac’s Tizhotndusty #3 looked ready to fire when he exited the gate at Santa Anita in a 1 1/8th turf route @SA. After all, before that contest Jessica Pfyer took him all the way in an AOC. However, once that route began to unfold it was apparent that he just didn’t have his best that day, finishing a lackluster 8th. Back at it, in another ALLW event at the same track, his conditioner clearly thinks he can come back in this company. The major change will be the cutback in distance, which should suit. The offspring of Unusual Heat seem to vary when it comes to what length they excel, but my sense is that the price will be right around 9/1. If Pfyer, who has been riding well of late, can get to the front, it should lead to a victory.
Spotlight Race of the Day: (Race 7: Turf, 1 ¼, MSW61K, F&M 3+):
I truly love a distance race on the grass more than anything because here in North America we just do not put much emphasis on them. Since they are pretty rare, when they do come around, you need to be ready. This afternoon we have a group of 8 that will line-up at the foot of the old downhill course at “The Great Race Place,” and I have to say, I miss that configuration. At first glance, it appears that Richard Baltas is holding the strongest turf avenger in here. Disappearing Act #8 has the class background, gets Flavien Prat, and though this filly has yet to break her maiden, she has bloodlines for distance that run through Magician (IRE). Still, I am not sure I want to take 8/5 on this one, so instead, I am going long shot with Bob Hess’ Lakaya #5. She is a filly who has some deeper route experience, and last year was used to this type of company. Edwin Maldonado’s numbers are not quite up to scratch with Prat/Rispoli/Hernandez/Rosario on the lawn, but he can spring the occasional upset. I like the bloodlines through the dam, Kadaya (IRE), who was bred for distance. Majority opportunity to score as this Hess charge probably drifts from 15/1 up towards 20/1.