Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 2-Purified (Race 2)
Race #1: 7-Sumter has speed from the outside in what appears to be a grade 2 without any serious early pace. The 3-year-old colt is 2 for 2 over this mile trip; likes this grass course and makes second start off the layoff. The colt shows an eye-catching “best of 59” 4-furlong drill in :46 flat in preparation for this. He should be tough to reel in late on the stretch-out. 1-Balnikhov (Ire) is one of two D’Amato geldings lined up in here and this stone closer has won 2 of his last 3 including a victory in his most recent start back in late October over a robust field in the G3 Bryan Station at Keeneland. The gelding has trained well since then and tops the field with a (91) best last-out turf Beyer. 3-I’m A Gambler (Ire) makes his stateside debut for Glatt and Prat having won 4 of his last 5 starts. He hasn’t been out in nearly 3 months but has trained extremely well over the training track for his U.S. unveiling.
Race #2: 2-Purified goes two sprints to a route for Team Baffert having hit the board in all 3 career starts. The 3-year-old is by multiple G1 winner Lord Nelson who gets 19% with his dirt route prodigy. This lucrative jockey/trainer combo are 6 for 10 (60%) with a $2.56 ROI with MDSW dirt route runners. His stablemate 3-Bletchley Park removes the blinkers today; makes second start off the bench and exits the same race as top choice where they both finished in front of next-out winner Thales. 1-Princip was no match for runaway winner in last but did show improved speed on the stretch-out and draws inside again today with Prat.
Race #3: The speedy 2-Masteroffoxhounds comes off a career best triple digit figure when falling only a neck short in the G2 Seabiscuit at DMR November 26. He was a winner here two-back; comes in with an improving Beyer pattern and is projected to take these wire-to-wire this afternoon. 1-Rip City moves back to his favorite turf course today (9-4-3-0); has good tactical run from the rail and projects to perhaps get first jump on top choice if he comes back to the field. 3-Dicey Mo Chara (GB) finished right behind top choice two-back but is still looking for first graded stakes victory making career start number 17 today.
Race #4: Trainer Bob Baffert has three debuting well-bred colts lined up in here and any of the trio of runners wouldn’t be a surprise to score at first asking. 3-Faustin is a $800K Keeneland purchase by Curlin who has some snappy morning drills and may prove best with Vazquez who is 3 for 6 (50%) with a $3.93 ROI with debuting runners for barn this past year. 7-Worcester is by G1 winner Empire Maker and comes in with a string of bullet a.m. drills over the local strip since early November. Hernandez lands here. 4-Sonoran is by Ride On Curlin who is a strong 4 for 20 (20%) thus far with 2-year-old debuting prodigy and gets Velazquez for his initial outing.
Race #5: 4-Maltese Falcon (Ire) makes his second career start and first effort stateside for trainer Leonard Powell. The 2-year-old colt by multiple G1 winner Caravaggio was a good second in robust field in initial start at Redcar (GB) and attracts Prat for U.S unveiling. 2-Hawker was a bit unlucky in his first turf start December 4. He broke on the lead; was settled back nicely in 3rd along the rail; and then was completely blocked behind a wall of horses during the entire stretch run. He galloped out in front of the field when finally shaking free too late. 5-Dandy Man Shines (Ire) comes in with an improving Beyer pattern and owns the field’s best last-out turf figure (76) with recent runner-up finish at DMR December 4. 10-Smart Code improved substantially when switching to grass in most recent effort and adds blinkers today for trainer Mark Glatt.
Race #6: The ultra-consistent 6-Country Grammer comes in off three consecutive runner-up finishes against considerably better and is reunited with Dettori who was onboard for G1 Dubai World Cup win back in March. The 5-year-old has banked nearly $12 million in career earnings and runs well fresh. His stablemate 1-Hopkins is lightly raced; goes two sprints to a route and is projected to be on or close to the lead today with the rail draw and stretch-out. 3-Breakfast Ride has won 3 of 4 for Sadler and appears ready to tackle stakes foes.
Race #7: 8-Big Beauty was a good second here over the downhill course two-back with an (80) Beyer and should be motoring home late once again. 11-True Patriot makes 3rd start off the bench with an improving Beyer pattern and switches to Hernandez. 9-La Deuxieme Etoile cuts back to a sprint making her downhill debut and appears well-spotted with Dettori.
Race #8: Trainer Bob Baffert has 50% representation in the G1 La Brea Stakes. 3-Ganadora might sit the optimum trip behind likely pacesetter Hot Peppers. The $1 million-dollar Keeneland purchase by Quality Road has won 3 of 4 career starts and has trained extremely well for her return try. Her stablemate 1-Under The Stars is a multiple graded stakes winner and the most accomplished of all the barn’s entrants. This filly comes off a 3-month freshening and has also trained extremely well for today’s return try. 6-Fun to Dream has won 4 of 5 and is 2 for 2 going 7 furlongs. The 3-year-old filly by Arrogate owns the field’s best late kick with a TimeformUS late pace figure of (118). She projects to be the beneficiary of a pace meltdown.
Race #9: This is a tricky 1x allowance turf event with several different directions one could potentially go. 3-Ballet Dancing was a beaten favorite in last; adds blinkers today and makes second start off the bench for trainer Simon Callaghan. The lightly raced filly has run some of her better races over this grass course and should be much tighter this afternoon with a race under her belt. 12-Karakatsie is drawn way outside but is the class of this field. The 4-year-old filly has the right rider to perhaps negotiate a trip from a very tough spot. 6-Batyah had a rough wide trip when making her southern California debut for trainer Graham Motion in a race that’ s produced a pair of next-out winners. 7-Myfavoritedaughter comes off a career best effort having won two straight.
Race #10: 6-Taiba was no match for superhorse Flightline in the BC Classic at Keeneland but has since regrouped for Baffert coming in with a series of sharp a.m. drills. The multiple G1 winner is 2 for 2 at SA and projects to be flying late cutting back to 7 panels. The obvious knock is the short price. 1-Forbidden Kingdom has speed and the rail coming off a career best Beyer in last when fading to 3rd after some swift early fractions. He was a wire-to-wire winner at 7 furlongs in the G2 San Vicente to start the year. 3-Apprehend posted a 107 Beyer two-back in runaway win going a mile and is 2 for 2 over the SA strip.
Race #11: The lightly raced 9-Salimah (Ire) ships in from New York for trainer Chad Brown having won 3 of 4. The 3-year-old filly gets a serious class test this afternoon, but all indications are she’s ready to handle these top fillies with Prat staying aboard. 5-Bellstreet Birdie earned a top figure in U.S unveiling in the G3 Red Carpet at DMR with convincing 4 plus length widening victory. The one to beat this afternoon if she handles the SA grass course. The McGaughey barn makes a rare southern California appearance with 7-Skims (GB) who has been freshened since last win in the G2 Sands Point in New York. The fact that she’s made the trip merits our respect. 2-Sparkle Blue comes in with a win and improving Bayer Pattern for trainer Graham Motion and this 1-¼-mile trip looks well within her scope.