Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 5-Square Not (Race #3)
Race #1: A field of six filly first time starters are in today’s opener going 4 ½ furlongs with none of the conditioners particularly successful with debut runners. 5-Tom’s Regret is by G1 winner Tom’s Tribute and this filly has trained steadily and smartly for unveiling. 6-The Reign Song is by multiple G1 winner Stay Thirsty and has a snappy 3-furlong blowout for this on April 8. Attracts top rider. 4-Paytricia is one of four in here sired by unproven freshman sire Smokem. This jockey and trainer combo are 3 for 4 ITM when teamed up with debut runners.
Race #2: 3-Big Rosie showed little in two starts in 2021 but now makes first start for trainer Kristen Mulhall off the 8-month freshening and switches to turf. She’s bred for grass on both sides and this barn is 3 for 11 (27%) the past 3 years with new acquisitions at Santa Anita. 1-Travel Smart beaten favorite in last adds blinkers today in hope of helping with habitual slow getaways from the gate. This 3-year-old filly makes the all-important 3rd start off the bench and goes 2nd time Lasix. 2-Virulente drops in for a tag and owns the field’s best last-out grass Beyer (71).
Race #3: 5-Square Not was a troubled trip 3rd in debut and switches to dirt for 2nd career start. This barn is 3 for 9 (33%) with a $4.68 ROI with 2nd time starters going turf to dirt. 4-Smiling Molly is by multiple G1 winner Smiling Tiger and has some quick a.m. drills for jockey/trainer combo that have had some success with debut runners. 6-Sapadilla holds the experience edge over several of these with a 2nd behind runaway winner Everly’s Girl on March 18.
Race #4: 6-Brocade makes first start since leaving Baffert barn for McCarthy and comes off encouraging runner-up finish against similar. This 3-year-old filly has improving Beyers and looks primed for career best today. 2-Chloe’s Girl is the other McCarthy runner in here who showed good early zip in debut before tiring and finishing behind top pick. Any normal second-out improvement makes her a strong threat this afternoon. The 5-year-old mare 3-Angel of Freedom has the most experience of this group making career start number 8 and returns to dirt where she’s had her most success.
Race #5: 4-Zahra steps up in class off sharp win for trainer Steve Knapp and could repeat today if a snappy early pace materializes as projected. The main caveat, however, is that she’s 2 for 35 lifetime and has been unable to string two wins together. 3-La Pulcinela goes 2nd off the claim today coming off two solid back-to-back runner-up finishes. This filly has the ability to sit, stalk and finish which should serve her well with today’s likely race flow. 1-Floral Essence seeks third straight win but tries dirt today for the first time. Her sire Candy Ride was successful on both footings.
Race #6: 3-Forgotten Vows goes two sprints to a route in career start number three and his last start on March 13 when away slowly from the rail has produced a pair of next-out winners. The gelding’s debut runner-up finish produced a decent Beyer albeit against weaker. 1-Hotrod Ride comes off a troubled wide trip in debut and now goes turf to dirt and drops into claimers for start number two. 2-Arthur Spooner has already had several chances and is now making career start number 11. Nonetheless, the gelding has speed; stretches back out this afternoon and has run close to par for this level.
Race #7: 1-Madiha has good tactical early zip and finished 2nd ahead of two of the same fillies she meets again this afternoon. She’s run consistently well over this turf course and at today’s mile trip. Draws well. Recent Maiden winner 4-Funny Feline stretches out to a mile this afternoon and looks like the controlling speed. 6-Girl Ranger finished a troubled trip 2nd when trying turf for the first time March 12 and should move forward off that encouraging effort.
Race #8: 2-Octopus has not been seen since being claimed off the win back in May of 2021 for new conditioner Peter Eurton. The 5-year-old has good gate speed; has trained well for return and has fired fresh in the past. 1-Bear Chum adds blinkers today and was an improved 2nd as the beaten favorite March 25. 7-Quick Finish drops off the reclaim for red-hot barn and is reunited with winning rider.