Santa Anita (Friday-3/10/23) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 9-Soul of Midnight (Race #8)

Race #1: 3-Famous Star adds blinkers off the Ryan Hanson claim and makes 2nd start off the mini-freshening this afternoon. This colt exits a “key” race on January 13 that’s produced a pair of next-out winners and he’s returned to work extremely well since switching barns including a bullet 4-furlong drill on March 3. 8-Purfied has finished 2nd in 3 of 4 starts for Baffert and drops back down in for a tag off the 3-month layoff. He’s run above par for this class level on multiple occasions and is the one to beat in the Friday opener. At likely very short odds, however, he might be worth taking a swing against. 2-Cupid’s Crusader makes the all-important 3rd career start and is back on the main track after a failed turf attempt. He drops in for a first-time tag and earned a respectable dirt figure in Los Al debut back in December.

Selections: 3-8-2

Race #2: 2-Talklessworkmore removes the blinkers today and comes off a career best effort at this level when switched to dirt February 4. He showed good early zip before surrendering the last sixteenth of a mile to settle for 2nd. The 5-year-old gelding makes 3rd start off the form cycle. 3-Lil Richards Bello has been freshened since runner-up finish at this optional $20k claiming 1x level back at Del Mar. 4-So I’m Told returns to the main track for trainer Lorenzo Ruiz where he’s run just as well in prior starts. The gelding has good positional speed.

Selections: 2-3-4


Race #3: 1-Sailing Along returns to afternoon racing after a couple starts on the Los Al evening program where she ran well, and now drops in for a career low claiming tag today. This mare finished 5th in lone start over the oval but that was against much better stock than she faces this afternoon. 5-Bella Renella off since April 2022 but rattled off three straight wins when last seen and has been a popular commodity in the claiming box (including back-to-back voided purchases). She’s run above par for this class level in all her last 3 starts and is an obvious threat again for Team O’Neil. This jockey/trainer combo won with their last two returnees off an extended break. 4-Rain Diva has good speed and has been freshened for this despite backing up badly in last pair of efforts.

Selections: 1-5-4

Race #4: 1-Peppermint Flirt surely needed her first race back off a 17-month layoff and now stretches back out to a route for her second start off the bench. The 4-year-old filly shows a nice bullet a.m. drill on March 5 for this and is likely to work out a favorable trip from the rail. Upset chance. A beaten favorite in last 6-Eleuthera makes her 3rd start off the bench with an improving Beyer pattern and was a good 2nd at this level in last start on January 28. She adds blinkers today. 3-Tecumseh Caroline has won two straight on dirt for D’Amato and now switches back to turf where she finished 7th (in debut) and 4th back in October 2022. She’s bred to handle the footing and the additional real estate and is a much-improved filly for return to grass.

Selections: 1-6-3

Race #5: 6-Trojan Way steps up off recent win and now goes out for new barn off the claim. The 4-year-old filly cuts back to a mile today and should control things from her outside break. 1-Bonita Leona goes two sprints to a route with improving Beyer pattern for conditioner Steve Knapp. This mile trip might be pushing the boundaries, however, as far as distance limitations. 3-Roman Empress steps up off game score and is a multiple winner over the track and distance.

Selections: 6-1-3

Race #6: 1-Vagabound Prayer returns off a 3-month freshening and was a good second when last seen at this mile trip against similar at Del Mar. The filly owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (77); adds blinkers today and has the rail draw. 5-Make It Snow finished a good third in debut against similar and now stretches out for career start number two. This daughter of Empire Maker has turf route breeding on the dam side and should relish the stretch out. 6-Marinas Tina (Ire) stretches out in second stateside start for D’Amato and exits a January 22 ‘key” race that’s produced 3 next-out winners. Her latest 5th place finish was a better than looks effort and she’s likely to move forward today with Rispoli retaining the mount.

Selections: 1-5-6

Race #7: A beaten favorite in last pair 4-Street Ruckus has hit the board in six consecutive races for trainer Vladimir Cerin. He switches to Maiden breaking pilot veteran Kent Desormeaux who has heated up in recent weeks. 2-Finneus hasn’t shown much of late (winless since November 2021) but switches to Hernandez and has run some competitive figures for this class level.  The $2.6 million dollar colt 3-Bletchley Park (By Nyquist) returns to action for Baffert off hard earned Maiden victory to close out 2022. This colt should be on or close to the lead this afternoon.

Selections: 4-2-3

Race #8: 9-Soul of Midnight exits a January 7 debut race that’s produced a pair of next-out winners and flashed good early zip in that event to finish 2nd. The sample is small, but Cedillo and Pederson are 2 for 3 with 2nd time starters. Beaten favorite 12-Big Drinker was off slowly and wide in most recent start January 29 and now makes first start off the Peter Miller claim. This barn is a solid 6 for 14 (43%) with a $2.41 ROI the past 3 years with new acquisitions at SA when sprinting on dirt. 1-R Heart of Gold (By Grazen) debus from the rail for trainer Kristen Mulhall who has quietly had a solid meet from limited starts. This formidable sire gets a respectable 15% with 3-year-old & up debut runners and is 21% overall with dirt sprint prodigy.

Selections: 9-12-1

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