Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 6-I Don’t Get It (Race 6)
Race #1: The Saturday opener has been switched to the main track. 1-Circleofchampions returned off the mini-freshening to finish a good third at this level start January 27 and that race has produced a pair of next-out winners. The 5-year-old gets another favorable rail draw and could potentially trip out nicely from off the pace with a ground-saving journey. The caveat, however, is that he only has one dirt start where he finished 7th last August at DMR. In his defense, he had a wide troubled trip that afternoon and it’s perhaps not a true reflection of his affinity for the main track. 5-American Refugee became the likely favorite in the opener for Baffert after the surface switch. The gelding was a troubled trip 3rd February 18 as the beaten favorite and he has dirt numbers that ft well here including an (81) Beyer two-back going 7 furlongs. 9-El Potente has two-turn dirt experience and good positional speed with his outside draw. He fits well here making his first start against winners on the main track.
Race #2: 1-Daddysruby switches to the Peter Miller barn via private purchase off 11/1 debut upset at Golden Gate back on January 7 and that super “key” race has since produced 4 next-out winners. The filly has worked well since that winning unveiling and attracts Prat this afternoon. 2-Fun Money moves back to the main track and gets some class relief today dropping out of the Sweet Life Stakes for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill. The filly was far from disgraced in that try finishing 4th beaten less than 2 lengths. Her effort two-back at this level on dirt was solid. 6-Cholly finished behind Funny Money in last but adds Lasix today and has hit the board in 5 of 7 career starts for trainer Ryan Hanson.
Race #3: 3-Chick’s Dig It returns off a 3-month freshening; goes turf to dirt; blinkers off and first time Lasix for low-profile barn. Bravo climbs aboard and had a 37/1 Maiden winner for these connections back in January. A solid worktab for today’s all-important 3rd career start. 2-Crowning Gold comes in off three consecutive 2nd place finishes at this level and continues to show an improving Beyer pattern with each subsequent start. His latest (74) figure tops this field. 1-Goldenspa moves inside with an improving Beyer pattern and makes his 3rd start off the bench this afternoon for Team O’Neil.
Race #4: The surface change has shrunk this field to a match race between two first time starters that include 3-Saburo’s Girl and 7-Venganza.
7-Venganza is a 3-year-old filly by Curlin who debuts off some snappy a.m. drills for trainer Richard Mandella. This productive sire gets 14% with his 3-year-old & up debuting prodigy.
Race #5: 5-Get Her Number was trounced in most recent start at Gulfstream in the Pegasus World Cup but was an excellent second two-back over the sloppy going at Aqueduct in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. The 5-year-old shortens up in distance today for Miller; is reunited with winning rider and is a G1 winner over this racetrack. 2-Forbidden Kingdom is a multiple Grade 2 winner but has surrendered the lead in last 4 starts for Mandella and could be vulnerable once again at short odds going 7 furlongs. 1-Holden the Lute is one of two Mark Glatt-trained runners in here and comes off a strong career best Beyer (98) in 7-furlong score against cheaper. The 6-time winner is in super sharp form right now and gets world class rider Frankie Dettori who replaces Prat.
Race #6: The son of G1 Preakness winner Cloud Computing 6-I Don’t Get It was a beaten favorite behind Yellow Brick in most recent start but stumbled badly from the rail out of the gate losing any realistic chance. The colt was able to gather himself up and make a wide bid to finish 4th late. He should be ready for career best try today making 3rd start for winning connections. 4-Castle Island stretches out in career start number two for the Baffert barn off a 2nd place effort February 20 and is likely to improve dramatically with Hernandez staying aboard. His Beyer figure didn’t come up particularly fast in unveiling, but he’s by multiple G1 winner City of Light and could offer better value based on that (66) number. 3-Yellow Brick (By Quality Road) has improved Beyer-wise with each subsequent start for Mandella and comes off a strong 3rd place effort where he earned a field’s best (89). A logical threat with pressing speed and another inside draw.
Race #7: This $50,000 Maiden Claimer route for colts and geldings has been switched to the main track. 11-Keen to Go gets the worst of post draws for Team O’Neill but drops back down in for a tag and is bred to handle today’s surface switch. He’s by G1 Travers winner Keen Ice who gets 16% with his dirt route prodigy. The colt’s lone dirt try came in his debut back in July of 2022 where he stumbled at the start losing all chance. 3-Ice Storm steps up in class but was a good 2nd in most recent start and owns the field’s best last out main track Beyer (70). 7-Russells Hustle finished 3rd behind two next-out winners in lone main track try two-back and makes second start at this reduced $50k claiming tag level.
Race #8: Trainer Bob Baffert sends out three 4-year-old fillies in Saturday’s Grade 1 Beholder Mile Stakes led by 8-Fun to Dream. This daughter of Arrogate has won 6 of 7 career starts including 4 straight and is a perfect 4 for 4 over the Santa Anita main track. The classy 2-Pauline’s Pearl heads west for trainer Steve Asmussen off a winning 2023 debut at Sam Houston on January 28 and has trained very well since that winning effort. She’s a true road warrior having won 6 of 17 career starts at various racing venues. Dream’s stablemate 6-Gandora is still looking for her first graded stakes victory and will try to wire this field coming off a bang-up 2nd in the Grade 3 La Canada. She makes the all-important 3rd start off the bench today and was a $1 million-dollar Keeneland purchase, so the expectations were high. She’ll likely be the best price of the Baffert trio.
Race #9: 9-Implosion makes second start off the bench for Sadler this afternoon and has some main track Beyers that match up well here. She has good positional speed to be in the hunt early from her outside draw. 3-Very Scary has won two straight and steps up in class today in super sharp form. The problem is those efforts came on turf and both her dirt efforts were not great. Nonetheless, she’s by multiple G1 winner Connect who exceled going long over the main track. 4-Pop Pop’s Dream has never tried dirt in 8 career starts for trainer Mike Puype but is bred to handle the main track.