Santa Anita (Saturday-12/31/22) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 7-Real Fire (Race #7)

Race #1: The Saturday opener begins with one of the three graded stakes on the 9-race card and it’s a wide-open scramble over the downhill turf course. 5-Whatmakessammyrun is 3 for 3 over the SA turf course and was an 18/1 upset winner in the G2 Eddie D two-back over 3 next-out winners at this trip. The 4-year-old gelding should be poised for top try this afternoon with his 5-furlong prep under his belt. Most importantly, he’ll probably offer decent value once again. 1-Lane Way must negotiate the tricky rail draw but both efforts over the downhill have been super solid. The classy Grade 1 winner 10-Smooth Like Straight is unproven over the SA downhill course but should appreciate today’s cut back in distance and makes 3rd start off the layoff. 3-Super Ocho (Chi) has dangerous early speed dropping out of the BC Sprint and has trained lights-out for downhill debut. They’ll have him to run down in the lane.

Selections: 5-1-10

Race #2: 7-Order And Law comes off a decent 3rd at DMR against better where he earned a field’s best last our (87) Beyer. A multiple winner over the track and distance and gets the tepid call in another wide-open affair. 1-Baladi stretches out seeking 3rd straight win and his breeding suggests he deserves another chance going long. The gelding is super sharp right now and demands respect. 5-All Eyes West goes two sprints to a route and could find himself on the lead in this spot. The gelding gets in light with 7 lb. bug aboard.

Selections: 7-1-5

Race #3: 3-Burgoo Alley is one of two Phil D’Amato trained fillies lined up in the G3 Bobby Frankel Stakes. This gal has been a recent disappointment winless in 6 straight starts but could shake loose this afternoon in a race that’s void of any serious early zip. Prat retains the mount with upset chance. 10-Queen Goddess is drawn outside but has good speed to get some decent position early on and comes in off a 3-month freshening. The 4-year-old filly is proven going long and likes this turf course. 9-Avenue de France (Fr) has the best late pace TimeformUS figure in the field (109) and would be the likeliest to benefit from a pace meltdown up front. The 5-year-old mare likes this 9-furlong trip.

Selections: 3-10-9

Race #4: 6-Agador Spartacus is making career start number 16 but has never been offered this cheaply and perhaps deserves one more shot to break through at this reduced level in suspect field. 8-Straighttodasource cuts back to a sprint; adds blinkers and drops in class. That might be enough to find the winner’s circle in here. 4-American Grit is a 4-year-old gelding by American Pharoah who cost $425K debuting for a $20,000 claiming tag. There’s obviously been some issues and Baffert is 0 for 16 with Maiden Claiming debut runners. Some red flags and despite them he’s sure to attract plenty of tote support.

Selections: 6-8-4

Race #5: A 6-furlong MDSW turf sprint for juvenile colts and geldings rounds out a difficult early pick 5 sequence that has the potential to pay a ton. 3-Valiancer should have plenty of bottom underneath him coming out of 5 straight mile races and could appreciate today’s cut back to a sprint for trainer Jeff Mullins. I can envision a scenario where he mows them down late. 7-Lasmuigh (GB) makes stateside debut for D’Amato who excels with MDSW imports. 4-Johanes goes dirt to turf; makes 3rd start of the bench and has some decent speed. His sire Nyquist gets a respectable 14% with his turf sprint prodigy and grass specialist Rispoli takes the call. 10-Sir Pistolero is by Gun Runner and has trained well for his unveiling. Frankie Dettori gets the call, but trainer John Sadler is only 3 for 45 (7%), however, with FTS on turf at Santa Anita.

Selections: 3-7-4

Race #6: 6-Houndstooth co-tops the field’s best last out Beyer (81) and has been freshened off solid 2nd at this same level in last. The consistent 5-Bright Leaf comes in with 4 consecutive ITM finishes and makes second start off the bench. This jockey/trainer combo click close to 40% the past 2 years at SA. 1-Encode is a first-time gelding with speed from the rail making his first start for new connections.

Selections: 6-5-1

Race #7: 7-Real Fire drops in for a first-time tag today for Prat and Sadler and figures to be tough to handle with today’s class plunge. The filly’s last two works over the local footing have been quick. 6-Olivia’s Choice (Ire) makes first stateside start for trainer Jonathan Wong since December 2021, 50/1, runner-up finish at Newcastle. This filly adds Lasix and is the unknown in here. 5-Albyaader (Ire) like the top choice should also appreciate today’s MDSW to Maiden Claiming class drop. 10-Katerini has back-to-back second place finishes at this level so obviously fits here.

Selections: 7-6-5

Race #8: 7-Lady T just missed in last at DMR when nosed out by streaking Violent Runner. The 3-year-old (soon to be 4) filly loves Santa Anita. Although 6 panels might be a tad too short for her, she merits a big chance today against this group. 2-Samurai Charm returns to southern California off back-to-back stakes wins at Zia Park with strong Beyer figs. Prat lands here. 5-Anacapa is one of two fillies entered here for trainer Carla Gaines. This gal goes route to sprint off sharp wire-to-wire mile score with improving Beyer pattern.

Selections: 7-2-5

Race #9: Trainer Phil D’Amato sends out another pair in the Saturday nightcap. If the projected swift early pace comes to fruition things should set up nicely for 10-Doitforandrew (GB) who makes first start off 8-month freshening but has trained extremely well for his return effort. 3-Code Duello goes dirt to turf; makes 3rd start off the bench; is proven over this grass course and has a versatile running style which should serve him well in this spot. 1-Lovesick Blues comes off a troubled trip excusable 8th place finish and can rebound here this afternoon returning to the SA grass course were he’s a perfect 1 for 1 with Hernandez in the saddle. D’Amato’s other colt 5-Altruist has not been seen since 31/1 Maiden breaking score in debut back in October 2021, but comes in off a solid worktab and ambitious placement making first start off such a long break.

Selections: 10-3-1

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