Santa Anita (Friday-6/16/23) By Dean Keppler


Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 7-Strange Addiction (Race 7)

Race #1: 6-Ice Queen has had some traffic issues in last pair of starts but now stretches back out to a mile today where she’s had some success including a win over this course 4-back. This filly projects to get a favorable stalking trip today and is worth a shot at a price in wide open Friday opener. 8-Sommer Daisy (Fr) flashed speed and tired late after returning from a 11-month layoff in most recent start back in the end of March. A 2-month absence since then is somewhat of a concern, but she’s reunited with a winning rider this afternoon and has some previous grass route efforts that would match up well against this group. 1-Rose Barton (Ire) was able to clear quickly and carve out moderate fractions on the front end leading to victory in most recent effort on May 26. The waters get deeper with the class rise today, however, but she draws the rail and will look to utilize her early zip again this afternoon.

Selections: 6-8-1

Race #2: 3-She’s My Niece makes the all-important 3rd career start for trainer Doug O’Neill off a much-improved second place effort on May 27 when adding blinkers and flashing speed. Her stablemate 5-They Are for Sale exits the same event as top choice when reluctant to load and breaking a step slow. She also adds blinkers today for her second start and should move forward. 2-Cocktail Cutie got bumped and veered in at the start on April 29 debut finishing a well-beaten 4th but is eligible to move forward off  that initial try.

Selections: 3-5-2


Race #3: This is no ordinary allowance turf sprint with at least a pair of runners with graded stake victories on their resume. 2-Noble Reflection is one of four runners lined up in here dropping out of graded stake events. This gelding was hardly disgraced with 4th place effort in the G2 Turf Sprint at Churchill on May 6 and is now back on familiar footing. He won back-to-back tries at 6 and 6 ½ furlongs prior to Kentucky effort and has trained sharply locally since then. A pace factor for sure. 4-Earl Rocks (Ire) drops out of three consecutive graded stake route events for D’Amato and was a winner of the G3 Thunder Road three-back. Although he’s won going 6 ½ furlongs this will be his shortest assignment to date. This classy gelding is 4 for 9 lifetime and figures to be a strong factor from off the pace. His stablemate 3-Turn On The Jets (Ire) has not been out in 6 months but has proven he can fire big off the bench. This stakes winner is a multiple winner at the distance; has trained well for his return try and keeps Hernandez. This is, however, a challenging spot to launch his 2023 campaign.

Selections: 2-4-3

Race #4: The Grade 1 winning 6-American Theorem returns off a 7-month freshening for trainer George Papaprodromou. He’s already proven he can run well off a break and his recent a.m. drills have been solid. The class of this field and a standout if his form returns as good as it was as a 5-year-old. The lightly raced and speedy 7-Kid Corleone returns from an 8-month layoff for Team O’Neill. This lucrative jockey/trainer combo are 4 for 9 (44%) with a $3.84 ROI when teamed up with runners returning off >180 days. This colt has trained strongly for today’s return try and has room for further improvement. 5-Cyberviking comes off a career best Beyer (90) when just missing by a nose on May 21 as the beaten chalk and now makes his 3rd start off the form cycle this afternoon for D’Amato. The gelding’s recent starts and recent fitness perhaps gets him a little closer to the top two choices who haven’t started in several months.

Selections: 6-7-5

Race #5: 3-Unjokable was nailed in the final strides in tough beat when dropped in for a tag and switching to the main track on May 26 when finishing in front of three of the same fillies and mares she faces again today. This will be her third start stateside for conditioner Doug O’Neill and she should be tough right back albeit at a much shorter price. 2-Sweet Mother Mary was a wide sixth in her May 12 debut try after attracting decent tote support for trainer Ron Ellis and is eligible to move forward this afternoon. Her sire multiple G1 winner West Coast broke his Maiden in career number two. 7-Side by Side was not far behind Unjokable in last but is making career start number ten today and has already had several chances to break through while yet to put it all together for trainer Karen Headley.

Selections: 3-2-7

Race #6: 7-Harper’s Gallop returns to her preferred turf footing today after a troubled trip well-beaten 7th over the main track in last. Her allowance effort two-back going this mile trip was a strong try finishing third with an (80) Beyer figure and she was a winner three-back going longer on grass. 2-Court Snort finished a sharp closing 2nd when returning off 7-month layoff and in doing so holds the field’s best last out turf Beyer (73). She’ll need some pace to run at again but came back with a strong 4-furlong drill on June 10 and is likely to fire big again second off the bench. 5-Ghostem is 1 for 13 but is the likely pacesetter again in here today and can potentially hold on for a share of the vertical exotics.

Selections: 7-2-5

Race #7: 7-Strange Addiction closed for 3rd despite a slow start and traffic issues in grass debut on May 28 and now adds blinkers for start number two while moving to the main track for trainer David Hofmans. This filly is by grade 1 winner Good Magic who gets a solid 15% with his dirt sprint prodigy and leading rider JJ Hernandez takes over the riding duties. 8-Diamonds Danzing has not been out since November of last year but showed some ability over at Turf Paradise and Zia Park with 3 runner-up finishes from 5 career starts. Her local drills have been solid for low-profile connections. 9-Big Pond is by Mr. Big who gets a respectable 13% with his debuting prodigy and this filly has trained smartly for today’s unveiling for conditioner Tim Yakteen– including a “best of 76”4-furlongs in :48.1 on June 11.

Selections: 7-8-9

Race #8: The speedy 6-Annaghlasa (Ire) plunges down in class today dropping in for a $32k tag for D’Amato and figures to be tough to reel in at this reduced level. Most of her better efforts have come at this mile trip. 1-Slam Diego was a beaten favorite 2nd in 4-horse field on May 26 and takes a class drop this afternoon for trainer Jeff Mullins. All three of this filly’s grass Beyers have been above par for this class level. 10-Travel Smart goes two sprints to a route while making her third start of the form cycle for Miller and Hernandez.

Selections: 6-1-10

Race #9: 7-Pleasant (By Munnings) was a decisive debut winner for Baffert back in March and has trained well since that encouraging unveiling. She defeated the next-out winning filly Virasana who came back to score with an (89) Beyer. 5-Clearly Unhinged was overmatched in the G2 SA Oaks in last start back on April 8 when stretching out but returns to a more realistic level for career start number three and is back sprinting for trainer Michael McCarthy. This 3-year-old filly by Into Mischief was a strong wire-to-wire winner in debut with a solid (89) Beyer over a pair of next out winners. Baffert’s other filly 2-Home Cooking makes her first start in 8 months with Lasix off a strong worktab. She obviously has a ton of talent, finishing 2nd in the 7-furlong G1 Del Mar Debutante last September.

Selections: 7-5-2

Race #10: 9-Frost Alert has more speed than he’s shown in his last two starts for trainer Steve Knapp and comes into this race with an improving Beyer pattern on the class drop. 7-Numero Dix (GB) returned off an extended layoff to finish 7th in most recent effort on May 7 and is certainly eligible to move forward off that try for trainer Jeff Mullins. The 5-year-old gelding is winless since breaking Maiden over in France back in 2020 but drops in for a career low tag today and may have finally found the right level to be competitive. 4-Tom and Jazzy gets solid class relief for D’Amato dropping out of the $150K Snow Chief Stakes and does have an improving Beyer while cutting back to a mile—the winning distance of his maiden victory. Hernandez takes over the riding assignment.

Selections: 9-7-4

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