Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 3-Charlotte Harbor (Race #8)
Race #1: 1-Mentirosa broke through in career start number 5 at SA November 4 and looks appropriately placed for first crack at winners this afternoon. The 2-year-old gelding returned with a “best of 35” sub :48 4-furlong bullet drill December 1. 5-Midnight Lightning has shown little in last pair against much better, but adds blinkers today; switches to Maldonado and projects to be aggressively sent from the onset. 2-Flame Rider is wheeled back on 7 days rest after having some trouble handling the rail break. The gelding did make a decent run before flattening out late once maneuvering off the inside. 6-Let Him Do doesn’t have much early zip but takes a significant class plunge for winning connections and makes 3rd start off the bench this afternoon.
Race #2: 2-Devil Moon comes off a sharp runner-up finish at DMR November 20 when he fell just a nose short and now goes first off the claim for the Papaprodromou barn on the stretch-out. This conditioner does well with new acquisitions and is 2 for 5 (40%) with a $3.44 ROI at Los Al with newly acquired purchases. 3-American Refugee is a $475K Keeneland purchase by American Pharoah from the Baffert barn that’s shown little run in both career starts against straight MDSW company and now shows up for a $40k claiming tag. A bit discouraging but this jockey/trainer combo are an impressive 3 for 4 (75%) with a $3.95 ROI overall with MDSW to MDCLM dropdowns. 4-Western Cape goes 2nd off the claim and is a logical fit moving back down into Maiden Claimers where he was a good second two-back over this strip.
Race #3: 1-Marks Hip showed little in two main track attempts to start career but arrives here at Los Al off a strong wire-to-wire turf win and has the rail with good early zip. A recent 5-furlong dirt bullet drill December 4 perhaps indicates he’s simply a much-improved juvenile colt right now and can handle the surface change today. 4-Black Magician is on the improve and comes off a strong Maiden score at DMR November 25. The gelding looks fit and ready to handle winners today and has already shown an affinity for this racetrack. 3-Warrens World switches to Hernandez and makes 2nd start off the bench today for trainer Craig Lewis. Improvement is likely forthcoming.
Race #4: This is a tricky $20k Maiden Claiming sprint for fillies that starts the traditional $2 Pick Six. 6-Danzing Road stretches back out and may have distance limitations but is back in against fillies and comes off a career best try under the lights November 13. Tepid vote. 8-Mercy Now is by multiple G1 winner Run Happy. Trainer John Sadler is 11 for 49 (22%) with a positive ROI with debut runners sprinting on dirt the past 3 years. The negative, however, is that most of those wins were not at this oval and the filly has average works for today’s unveiling. 4-Sugar Girl is by Danzig Candy and debuts off modest a.m. drills. This barn, however, has been known to pop with a big number with debut runners from time to time. Pineda is 2 for 7 (29%) with FTS at Los Al the past 4 years with a robust $10.34 ROI.
Race #5: 2-Alexander’s Dream was a voided claim in last Golden Gate synthetic score and now returns as a first time gelding off a 9-month hiatus. This barn produced a similar winning GG to Los Al layoff maneuver back in 2019 and this gelding has proven he can win off the bench. 7-Swamp’n Ain’t Ez has speed; is drawn outside and is a multiple winner over the track and distance. 6-Highly Distorted is super sharp having won two straight over the evening card program and has proven he can handle the afternoon setting as well with a win back on July 4.
Race #6: Trainer Jorge Periban has done extremely well with new barn purchases starting at this oval and 3-Nice Guy Clay looks like a shrewd purchase returning to the course he broke his Maiden at in debut. The 3-year-old gelding was a disappointing beaten even money favorite in last start November 24 at Del Mar but can rebound here for new connections. Beaten favorite 2-Grenada Flavor adds blinkers and shortens up off the Sean McCarthy claim. 1-Mitico has speed and the rail and takes a much-needed class plunge this afternoon.
Race #7: This looks like a two-horse race on paper. 2-Navy Man and 3-Gilmore exit the same November 13 race where they both ran extremely well behind another Baffert firster Massimo (By Uncle Mo). Navy goes two sprints to a route; has run back-to-back sharp efforts with strong Beyers (81,80) and is by multiple G1 winner Bolt d’Oro who is 4 for 18 (22%) with dirt route runners. Gilmore is another Baffert runner that makes his second career start today after beaten favorite debut behind top pick. This jockey/trainer combo are 2 for 3 (67%) at Los Al with second time starters and this colt is also bred to relish the extra real estate. 1-Bluegrass Lute exits the same event as top two selections but is eligible to move forward off that effort. Team Desormeaux is 0 for 26, however, with second time starters.
Race #8: 3-Charlotte Harbor has won two straight for trainer Vladimir Cerin posting back-to-back main track Beyers that are tops in this field. A logical threat to take 3rd straight at short odds. The one chink in the armor is perhaps that this filly has never run over this strip which at times can be a huge disadvantage. 2-Everlys Girl has good early zip and drops in class today. She’s a strong wire-to-wire threat if she can shake free from main pace threat Ardis. 1-Sangre Azul may get a live flow to close into and should be much tighter making 2nd start off the bench.
Race #9: Off the Baffert-trained trio 3-Faiza looks best after running to her $725k purchase price with handy Del Mar debut score last month over next-out winner Lily Poo. The talented juvenile filly by Girvin is confidently moved up to this Grade 1 today and is bred to handle today’s stretch-out. She’s trained extremely well since that dominating debut score. 5-Uncontrollable has run three strong races from off the pace for trainer Michael McCarthy including a second on October 8 in the G2 Chandelier while finishing in front of a pair of next-out winners. She has since returned with a sharp 5-furlong bullet drill December 2. Faiza’s stablemate 1-Doinitthehardway is still a Maiden but makes second start off the layoff today and has improved with each subsequent outing. This Street Sense filly moves inside today and makes second route start. 6-Pride of the Nile makes first start on dirt having won two straight on turf. It’s interesting to note that Hernandez lands here while at the very least had a couple other quality riding options. The filly’s dirt works have been super sharp.