Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 4-Nauvoo (Race 4)
Race #1: The Monday opener is a competitive optional claiming 1x sprint for 3-year-olds and up. 2-Mor Tequila has improved with each subsequent start for Baffert and comes off a sharp looking Maiden win on May 20 over next-out winner Big Hat Willie. 3-Patron d’Oro returns off an 11-month layoff for conditioner Brian Koriner but showed solid credentials in both 2021 and 2022 earning competitive Beyer pars for this class level. The 5-year-old has trained smartly for today’s return try and has already proven he can fire fresh. The multiple stakes-winning 6-Giver Not a Taker is proven over this afternoon course and makes second start off the bench today for Miller.
Race #2: 3-Sadie Bluegrass has won 3 of her last 4 on grass for trainer Jonathan Wong including a recent 5-furlong stakes score while returning off a 11-month freshening. This 6-year-old mare is 14 for 24 lifetime and has proven she can perform just as well over the main track. A logical threat making initial try over this course. 5-Professors Pride goes turf to dirt while making second start off the Mark Glatt claim. This barn is a strong 14 for 50 (28%) with a $2.73 ROI with this claiming angle the past 3 years and this filly is a stakes-winner over this racetrack. 2-Gypsy Lynn steps up in class off sharp runaway gate-to-wire winner in most recent 6-furlong try at Santa Anita on May 19. This filly’s lone try over this big layout was a 5th last July.
Race #3: 1-Circle the Moon has shown little in both career starts but goes turf to dirt on the class drop for Powell and may show improved speed with today’s rail draw based on solid 4-furlong :47.2 a.m. drill on June 18. 5-Reef City makes start number eight today and has yet to improve upon 3rd place finish in debut but drops to a career low claiming tag while making 3rd start of current form cycle. 2-Stella Boy was trounced in most recent try when attempting to stretch-out against open company. He’s back in against state-bred foes and is eligible to bounce back.
Race #4: 4-Nauvoo ships in from Golden Gate for trainer Jonathan Wong and looks like a solid gate-to-wire threat on the class drop. This gelding is reunited with winning rider Vasquez this afternoon and has run some of his better races on dirt including a 9-length romp three-back at Santa Anita. 1-Chickenfingerfriday has won two straight and comes in off the mini-freshening off Steve Knapp claim back on April 23. The 3-year-old colt has worked well since the last start but is 0 for 2 on this afternoon course. 2-Careless Kitten is 2 for 24 but comes off a career best Beyer (75) with sharp looking win on May 14 going this mile trip.
Race #5: 3-Imperial Hornet hasn’t showed much in two sprint tries at Santa Anita but stretches out this afternoon for trainer Leonard Powell and drops in for a first-time tag. His sire multiple grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger gets 18% with his dirt route prodigy. 1-L L L Cool makes first start for the Sadler barn off an extended layoff but arrives with some respectable morning works and showed life at this level over the synthetic Golden Gate footing last winter. 4-Take Charge Curly has 5 ITM finishes from 10 career starts and is a logical threat based on recent Beyers at this level. This gelding is hard to endorse on the win end, however, at short odds.
Race #6: 1-Exalting comes in with a game 1,000-yard 8/1 evening score under the lights in most recent try on June 18 and when last seen trying this 5 ½-furlong distance he was a gate-to-wire winner at Golden Gate. The 5-year-old has speed from the rail and could upset this $10k claiming group. 4-Cajun Treasure is proven over this afternoon course and comes in off a decent 2nd against slightly better. 6-Octopus was a voided claim winner when last seen back in April when earning a career best Beyer (86) and has worked steadily the past two months for today’s return effort. The gelding is 3 for 5 going this 5 ½-furlong trip.
Race #7: 2-Ardtrea has not won beyond 4 ½-furlongs but has been freshened since voided claim back in March and is reunited with winning rider for top connections. This 5-year-old mare draws inside with speed. 3-Jaycee makes second start since arriving back in the Wong barn after a troubled break in most recent evening card try on June 18. This filly has speed, gets in light and is a 3-time winner going this trip. Two speed number? 7-Queen Verrazano is in super sharp form now for conditioner Jesus Mendoza with a series of solid tries on the evening card and projects to get a favorable set-up from off the pace if top two hook up through fast fractions early on.
Race #8: 3-Bochombo has not been out since being claimed last December but has trained sharply for today’s return effort and has fired off some huge efforts when able to break alertly and establish good position early on. Desormeaux in for the ride and this colt looks like a serious gate-to-wire threat. The stakes-placed 4-Navy Man makes third start of current form cycle for McCarthy off back-to-back solid efforts and should be rallying strongly down the long stretch. 2-Subsidize moves back to the main track for Miller after some disappointing grass efforts so far this year. The 5-year-old gelding switches to barn’s Los Al go-to pilot Vasquez who is 6 for 18 (33%) over this course when riding for this outfit. The 5-year-old gelding must be respected on that move alone.