Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 7-Justique (Race #6)
Race #1: 3-Unwhirled has shown little in two Southern California starts since shipping east from Belmont after debut, but gets class relief today for barn that clicks around 30% with MDSW to MDCLM dropdowns. Beaten favorite 2-Very Scary moves up off the claim and returns to grass making 2nd start off the 11-month freshening. The filly has speed; moves inside and has three runner-up turf finishes against better last fall at DMR. 5-Lookintogeteven is 0 for 21 but has finished second and third multiple times against better going this trip. The 5-year-old is impossible, however, to fully endorse as a win candidate based on her overall record.
Race #2: 2-Breakfast Ride moves up seeking third straight for Sadler and shows 5 drills since last win August 20 at Del Mar. The colt is projected to be on the lead again here this afternoon. 3-Holden the Lute is in career best form with improving Beyer pattern for Glatt. This 5-year-old gelding is a 3-time winner over the track and distance. 5-American Admiral is super consistent having hit the board in 8 straight races and comes off career best (95) Beyer for trainer Tim Yakteen.
Race #3: This is a contentious and tricky Maiden Special Weight turf sprint with most of the top fillies drawn outside. European import 7-Cuban Crisis (GB) returns off an 8-month freshening off consecutive beaten favorite efforts stateside. Trainer Mark Glatt is 6 for 22 (27%) with a $2.73 ROI the past two years with horses returning off >180 days on grass at Santa Anita. The speedy 11-Phenom goes route to sprint today for D’Amato but must negotiate a frequent problematic outside post and extended layoff. 1-Laura Mars is one of two fillies for trainer George Paparodromou. As of this writing the barn is a chilly 0 for 15 to start the Autumn meet but this gal has trained well for her return off an 8-month freshening for new handler. 5-Automax cuts back to a sprint and makes the all-important 3rd career start.
Race #4: Trainer Bob Baffert has a pair of well-bred and highly regarded first time starters in here and this top barn is off to its typical fast start. The pair worked side-by-side October 2. 1-California Rocket is by Triple Crown winner Justify who is a sharp 10 for 34 (29%) with his 2-year-old first time starter prodigy. 5-Riley G is a $625K Ocala Breeders’ Sales purchase by Flatter who arrives on the scene with a series of sharp gate drills. This jockey/trainer combo are 2 for 3 with debut runners. 6-Always At Ease holds the experience edge over several of these and goes turf to dirt for Desormeaux. Her sire Twirling Candy gets 18% with his dirt sprint runners.
Race #5: 3-Going to Vegas is a potential repeat wire-to-wire threat for D’Amato landing in what appears (at least on paper) to be another pace less affair making her second start off the mini-freshening. The gate-to-wire tactics worked well in last year’s edition. 2-Fluffy Socks heads west again for Brown off field’s best last out Beyer (100) and runner-up finish at Saratoga behind stablemate in G2 Ballston Spa. 7-Family Way also heads west for conditioner Brendan Walsh who has a win and pair of runner-up finishes in three Grade 1 turf tries at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old mare should be super fit coming off 2nd place Kentucky Downs finish just 3 weeks ago.
Race #6: 7-Justique (by Justify) made an eye-catching move from far back to take 8/1 upset debut win for trainer John Sheriffs in “key” July 31 race that’s produced 3 next-out winners including well-regarded odds-on Baffert juvenile Home Cooking who he faces again this afternoon. 3-Home Cooking stretches out today off runner-up finish in the G1 TVG Del Mar Debutante and drilled a sharp bullet 5 furlongs in :58.3 October 3 in preparation for this. Baffert’s other filly 4-Huntingcoco was a runaway Maiden winner over two next-out winners and looks ready for first start against winners on the stretch-out. 5-And Tell Me Nolies must be respected off 9/1 upset in the previously mentioned DMR Debutante. She’s also bred to go long.
Race #7: A full field of colts and geldings spar off in this competitive optional $50k claiming grass sprint with several different directions one could go. It looks like a prime spot to try a price play. 10-Who’s Candy makes second start off the bench today after breaking slowly in last start and making a decent closing wide rally. The gelding has trained well since then and is confidently moved up here. 3-Multi Platinum has speed; adds blinkers; goes dirt to turf and is reunited with winning rider for Miyadi. The colt merits respect here despite sire’s 2 for 56 record sprinting on grass. 1-Uncle Jeff goes two routes to a sprint for trainer Vladimir Cerin and broke maiden at first asking at SA over the downhill course.
Race #8: The undefeated 5-Cave Rock is 2 for 2 for Team Baffert with Beyers of 98 and 101 which includes a 5-length romp in the G1 Runhappy DMR Futurity on September 11. The talented colt by Arrogate is bred to handle the additional footage. The $3.55 million purchase 8-Hejazi by Bernardini has a pair of runner-up finishes as the beaten chalk which includes a triple digit Beyer in most recent effort behind 2 for 2 stablemate Speed Boat Beach. Another talented Baffert runner who should relish the stretch-out is recent maiden winner 6-National Treasure who might be the least regarded of the trio. The juvenile colt by Quality Road remotes the blinkers today for second career start and this top barn is 7 for 14 (50%) at SA with this equipment change maneuver with their second time starters.
Race #9: 2-Turn On The Jets (Ire) made his U.S, unveiling a winning won for D’Amato with 8/1 upset where he earned a solid (90) Beyer. The lightly raced 3-year-old gelding is eligible to move forward off that sharp score making second start off 10-month freshening. 3-Rip City goes two routes to a sprint and makes 3rd start off the bench for trainer Mike Puype. This 5-year-old gelding loves the regular SA turf chute (7-3-3-0) and should take to the downhill course quite handily. 9-Chasin Munny gets some class relief today; is proven over this course and comes in with improving Beyer pattern while making his 3rd start off the layoff. He projects to get a favorable stalking trip with outside draw.
Race #10: 6-Red King drops in for a tag today off back-to-back graded stakes tries for trainer Phil D’Amato. The veteran gelding is an 8-time winner; the class of this field; and projects to get a live race flow to help utilize his late kick. The other D’Amato gelding 10-Midnight Jostar is another who projects to benefit from chasing a fast pace this afternoon. 5-Hawk of War is a road warrior that’s won 4 of his last 5 turf starts and now makes initial outing for the Hess barn off recent claim at Kentucky Downs. The gelding owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (90), but barn is only 1 for 29 with new acquisitions at SA on grass.