Santa Anita (Friday-4/7/23) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 10-Bold Choice (Race 7)

Race #1: 6-Angelcents comes off a career best effort and turf Beyer (90) with dominant win against this same level March 12. This mare stretches out an additional ½ furlong to 5 1/2 today where she’s 5 for 11. She should be tough to overhaul with similar effort. 8-Ready Jet Go rallied for the place spot behind top choice in most recent start but was no match for the winner. 2-Sheza Girly Girl only has a handful of turf starts but she’s proven she can handle the surface with the right set-up and the 6-year-old mare comes off a solid sprint win against optional claiming 1x types.

Selections: 6-8-2

Race #2: Team O’Neill has three 3-year-old colts lined up in here. We’ll give the advantage to 4-Looks Rare who was a solid runner-up going this mile trip to Low Expectations when last seen back in January. That gelding came back to win his next start and was 2nd in the G3 Sunland Derby on March 26. His stablemate 1-Golden Sombrero tried stakes company in downhill turf debut a month ago when off slowly and wide. He goes turf to dirt today; adds Lasix and stretches out to a mile. The son of Medaglia d’Oro is bred for two-turns and the main track. 2-Excel Calculator drops in for a first-time tag today after holding his own against tougher straight Maiden Special Weight types while finishing fourth in all four career starts. He owns the field’s best last out dirt Beyer (79) and goes 2nd time blinkers.

Selections: 4-1-2


Race #3: The speedy 2-Stressed returns off an 8-month freshening for trainer Peter Eurton and lures Hernandez who is a strong 6 for 16 (38%) with a $3.86 ROI when riding this barn’s turf starters. This 5-year-old mare has great early zip and has been 1st or 2nd at the first call in each of her 9 career starts. 6-Albayaader (Ire) steps up in class having won two straight for Mullins and is the one to beat again holding a double turf Beyer advantage over the rest of this field. The obvious knock is the short price. 5-Dendera turns back to a sprint today and makes the all-important 3rd start off her form cycle for trainer Leonard Powell.

Selections: 2-6-5

Race #4: 3-Doris Mae has flashed speed and tired against stakes-caliber fillies in last two starts and now drops into a much softer spot for conditioner Carla Gaines. The lightly raced 4-year-old should be able to establish a clear lead in here and be tough to reel in late with Hernandez. 5-Saturday Heist made a nice middle move into contention while racing wide for most of the trip on March 9—and despite the challenging journey– still finished a decent 4th beaten less than 4 lengths. 7-Big Shamrock was a sharp winner at this level two-back and a good third in most recent try March 9 when pressing the pace before tiring late. The 4-year-old filly now makes her first start for trainer Lorenzo Ruiz who is 11 for 40 (28%) the past 3 years with recent claims in dirt sprints.

Selections: 3-5-7

Race #5: 4-Hayley Levade ran extremely well off the 4 ½ month freshening for trainer Gary Stute when chasing a snappy opening quarter and half mile while parked on the outside in 3rd. She battled gamely to the wire and was involved in a 4-horse blanket finish coming up only ¾ of a length short. She should be even sharper making 2nd start off the bench. The $600K Keeneland purchase 10-Sweet Trouble cuts back to a sprint this afternoon and makes initial grass start for D’Amato. This filly is by top sire Into Mischief who was a G1 winner on synthetic and gets 13% with his turf sprint runners. She figures to get a favorable stalking trip with her outside draw. Her stablemate 3-Spain Moonlight (Ire) makes her stateside debut off a 4-month freshening and showed some ability in both starts in France to start her career. She’s worked well here, and this barn typically does well with these turf imports. Hernandez rides.

Selections: 4-10-3

Race #6: 2-Olympic Legend has been absent since last July for trainer John Sadler and now returns at a career bottom level $12,500 claimer. The 4-year-old gelding obviously has had some issues but has trained well and this barn has had decent success with horses making similar drastic drops off long layoffs. Ellingwood and Sadler are 8 for 16 (50%) with a $4.63 ROI with dirt sprint runners. 6-Honeymoon Suite put it all together to break Maiden in wire-to-wire fashion in start number eight March 17 over a next-out winner Lemon Drop Shot and looks appropriately placed to perhaps repeat on the relatively quick turnaround. 5-Ferociously has been on a hiatus of his own returning off a 11-month layoff. The gelding starts for new barn today and makes his Southern California debut. He faced much classier claiming stock at Fairgrounds and Churchill prior to heading west, but there’s some trepidation regarding his overall condition while returning at this reduced level.

Selections: 2-6-5

Race #7: 10-Bold Choice switches back to grass for career start number 11 and has had several close finishes at this level on both dirt and turf. She goes 2nd time blinkers today; shows a nice 4-furlong drill April 2 and appears ready to finally break through here this afternoon for trainer Steve Knapp. 3-Magic Game returns off a 5-month freshening for hot barn and this 4-year-old filly has had 3 second place finishes from 8 starts at this level on turf. She returns to sprinting today with Hector Berrios back aboard and this lucrative jockey/trainer combo are 9 for 21 (43%) with a lofty $4.40 ROI. 7-Isabel Ludlow is an obvious threat off back-to-back runner-up finishes sprinting on grass to start her career and gets a significant weight break this afternoon for trainer Steve Miyadi. 9-Big Update (By Mr. Big) has trained decently for today’s unveiling and this barn is 1 for 1 with first time starters on turf. One to consider in the vertical exotics at likely long odds.

Selections: 10-3-7

Race #8: 2-Mastering has been plagued by numerous layoff lines since last win back in March 2021, but has trained lights-out for Baffert the last several weeks and appears back on track with Hernandez taking the call off the bench. 3-Howbeit is a Grade 2 winner and the class of this field. He drops out of consecutive Grade 3 tries into this much softer $100k claiming spot and gets in light today with new pilot Armando Aguilar. The classy 6-year-old is 4 for 14 on the Santa Anita strip and could fall into an ideal trip if Mastering and Sunrise Journey hook up early. 5-Sunrise Journey steps up off career best wire-to-wire winning effort where he earned a field’s best (93) Beyer.

Selections: 2-3-5

Race #9: The late charging 9-Mambo Cool doesn’t always get the cleanest of trips rallying from far back all the time but is as consistent as they come for trainer Phil D’Amato. He makes his third start off the long layoff today and the projected race flow appears to favor his running style. 3-Anitanewmercedes ships back down from Golden Gate in super sharp form off a convincing win on the synthetic March 11. This veteran 7-year-old gelding finished 3rd at 10 and 21/1 in both tries over the Santa Anita grass last spring at this level. 2-Worse Read Sanchez hasn’t gotten the best of set-ups in recent starts for trainer Doug O’Neil but now returns off the bench in a spot that may offer a more favorable pace scenario. His jockey is 0 for 42, however, and still looking for his first win of the meet.

Selections: 9-3-2

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