Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 6-Cheekiest (Race 7)
Race #1: The Saturday afternoon 9-race card starts with a challenging Maiden Special Weight turf sprint for 3-year-old colts and geldings. 8-Upward Mobility comes off a well-beaten 4th in debut 2 weeks ago for trainer Peter Miller but is wheeled back quickly and switches to grass for start number two. His sire Smiling Tiger was a multiple G1 winner on synthetic and this barn is a strong 4 for 9 (44%) with a $3.71 ROI with Vazquez aboard second time starters. 5-Buck Owens comes off a career best effort with even 4th place finish on January 28; is newly gelded and turns back to a sprint. 4-Old Pal makes his unveiling for trainer Mark Glatt off some decent a.m. drills but barn is only 2 for 56 with debut runners on turf. On the positive side his sire Grazen gets 18% with turf sprint prodigy and Hernandez climbs aboard.
Race #2: 5-American Refugee stepped up to face winners in most recent start and finished a solid 3rd beaten only a length earning a career and field’s best last out (81) Beyer. The 4-year-old gelding has trained well since then for Baffert and makes 3rd start off the form cycle. 1-Piroli ships back down from Golden Gate off synthetic Maiden breaking score and has run well over the dirt here going long finishing second multiple times back in early 2022. The gelding puts blinkers back on today. 4-Canelo has speed and comes off a mini-freshening for trainer Kristen Mulhall. He’s bred to go long over the main track.
Race #3: 1-Catalina Eddy was no match for runaway winner Bus Buzz on February 4 debut but finished second at 20/1 and earned a solid (75) main track Beyer for his runner-up effort. He goes turf to dirt this afternoon and his sire Square Eddie gets 15% with turf sprint prodigy. 5-Moon Ice comes off back-to-back beaten favorite 2nd place finishes at this level sprinting on turf and Hernandez retains the mount. 2-Finally an Eddie is a $385K purchase by Square Eddie who gets 8% with 3-year-old & up debut runners and 15% with dirt sprint offspring. Trainer Simon Callaghan has had some good success with first time starters and this colt deserves a look in suspect field.
Race #4: 6-Big Switch finished a game 2nd in most recent start when returning off a 8-month layoff for trainer John Sadler. This 4-year-old filly was a sharp winner of the Melair Stakes two-back at this 1 1/16-mile trip and should be much tighter making second start off the long layoff. 3-Rose Maddox finished behind top pick three-back but comes off a sharp synthetic stakes win at Golden Gate and likes this racetrack. 7-Smoothlikebuttah rarely wins but has hit the board in 13 straight starts for conditioner Steve Knapp. The ultra-consistent 5-year-old mare fires every start and certainly has the Beyer numbers to compete here once again.
Race #5: 4-Harper’s Gallop just missed by a long neck despite a tough trip when forced to check past the ½ mile marker in most recent turf effort against cheaper. The 7-year-old mare galloped out strongly past the winner after the wire and owns the field’s best last-out turf Beyer. 1-Whistler’s Style goes dirt to turf off the mini-freshening and this lucrative jockey/trainer combo click at a solid 30% overall with grass route runners at SA. 6-Vandalia is a Florida invader who makes first start for new barn after competitive efforts against low-level claimers on both synthetic and turf at Gulfstream. It’s hard to gauge where she fits here class-wise, but she has won 6 of 16 career starts.
Race #6: 8-Wegonahavagoodtime finished a decent 2nd when dropped to this level in most recent start back in the end of December earning a field’s best last out Beyer (70). A similar try would make this gelding extremely tough in this spot this afternoon. 1-Honeymoon Suite goes turf to dirt; makes second start off the bench and drops from $50k to $20,000 tag for trainer Jeff Mullins. This barn is having an excellent meet. 5-Hydro Frost flashed speed and tired badly in first dirt start January 13 when getting pulled up and eased in the stretch. The gelding drops his claiming price tag in half this afternoon and did return to train three times since that disappointing effort.
Race #7: 6-Cheekiest adds Lasix and goes first off the claim for trainer Mike Puype. This barn is an impressive 5 for 9 (56%) with a lofty $6.13 ROI the past two years with first off the claim runners on grass. This filly was a much-improved 3rd when stretched out to today’s mile trip. 1-Fayette Fox stretches out and drops in for a tag in career start number two after finishing a non-threatening 6th on January 22. This barn is 5 for 17 (29%) with a $2.51 ROI the past 3 years with 2nd time starters routing on turf dropping from MDSW to Maiden Claimers. 2-Luminiferous has shown little in both local starts routing on turf but takes key class drop and adds Lasix for all-important 3rd career start.
Race #8: 5-Adare Manor returns off nearly 5 months rest for trainer Bob Baffert and removes the blinkers today for the cut back to 7 furlongs. This graded stakes winner has trained superbly for today’s return effort and this jockey/trainer combo are 9 for 20 (45%) with a $2.26 ROI the past 3 years with horses returning off 61-180 day’s rest over the main track. 7-Teddy’s Barino has not been out in 4 months, but this consistent and versatile mare has won 4 of her last 5 starts and is proven off the bench for Glatt. She appears to be main threat to top pick. Teddy’s stablemate 3-Ironic Twist is 2 for 2 lifetime and makes first start back off the extended layoff. The 5-year-old mare has trained sharply for her long-awaited return and rounds out strong one-two punch for barn.
Race #9: The speedy 4-Bay Storm cuts back to a sprint today off two recent ITM finishes against grade 3 competition and looks like the type that will relish the downhill course. Today’s third start off the bench and class drop makes her a solid choice in the Saturday finale for the minor upset. 6-Big Summer has never been off the board in 11 career starts for trainer Carla Gaines and is 2 for 2 over the SA downhill course. This mare has trained well since last score January 7. 1-Stella Noir draws the rail and comes off a nice win in most recent start when returning off a 3-month freshening. This mare was runner-up in this event last year and should be motoring home late for the Desormeaux brothers.