Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 3-Bus Buzz (Race #4)
Race #1: The son of G1 winner Collected 5-Conclude finished a sharp second in January 21 grass debut when flashing good positional speed and earning a solid (79) Beyer for trainer Phil D’Amato. This lucrative jockey/trainer combo are 8 for 18 (44%) with a $3.82 ROI with second time starters on turf. He figures to be a handful with any normal second-out improvement. 2-Single Track Mind (Ire) has been knocking on the door since arriving stateside last September; cuts back to a sprint today and switches to Hernandez. 7-Boss Sully attracted some tote support on February 11 debut when finishing 4th and barn has strong numbers with second time starters. This colt’s sire Street Boss was a multiple G1 winner on synthetic and gets a respectable 14% with turf sprint prodigy. Improvement is likely for a colt that looked green in unveiling and perhaps in need of a race.
Race #2: 1-Unwritten Code steps up in class today but has won 4 straight and owns the field’s best last-out Beyer (77). She has speed and the rail and will likely try to bottom these out this afternoon. 6-Charlotte Harbor moves back to the main track where she had won two straight prior to last disappointing turf attempt. 3-Miss Fia is reunited with Hernandez off back-to-back ITM finishes against cheaper. 7-Henny’s Crazy Train moves up off the Sadler claim and goes 2nd time blinkers.
Race #3: 6-Oncoming shortens up to 6 ½ furlongs this afternoon off two ITM finishes against similar including a tough trip third just 13 days ago. 1-Cherubic Factor has not been seen since last turf win over 8 months ago but has trained extremely well for today’s return effort for Eurton which includes 3 consecutive bullet drills. 4-King Apollo was a good 2nd in last off an 8-month hiatus behind next-out winner Forgiving Spirit. The 4-year-old gelding earned the field’s best last-out grass Beyer (79) and is the main threat if he can avoid a bounce in this spot.
Race #4: 3-Bus Buzz (By Stay Thirsty) scorched the competition in runaway Maiden victory February 4 earning an eye-catching (93) Beyer for trainer Steve Knapp. The gelding must avoid a bounce off that sharp performance returning on 4 weeks rest. 1-Devil Among Us has improved Beyer-wise in each subsequent start for D’Amato and was a good 2nd at this level in last. He goes 2nd time Lasix today. 4-Kangaroo Court has been sidelined since runaway 14 length Maiden score 6 months ago but has trained very well for today’s return to action and attracts Pratt today.
Race #5: The Buena Vista Stakes is the first of four graded stakes events on the Saturday Big Cap card and trainer Phil D’Amato has 4 of the 6 entrants. A multiple G1 winner in Brazil 2-Macadamia (Brz) comes off a solid win against cheaper but may be ready to tackle U.S. graded stakes competition cutting back to a mile and making 2nd start off the mini freshening. 6-Quattroelle (Ire) picked up her first graded stakes win with last 10/1 upset score in the G3 Megahertz over a trio of the same fillies and mares she faces off against again today. She earned a field’s best last-out and career best (90) turf Beyer for that victory. The multiple graded stakes placed 1-Closing Remarks moves inside and makes 3rd start off the bench today for trainer Carla Gaines. The 5-year-old mare rarely misfires. Another D’Amato mare 5-School Dance was a disappointing beaten favorite 5th in the Megahertz but is eligible to bounce back here. The filly has won 3 of her last 5 starts and was 2nd in the G1 American Oaks two-back.
Race #6: Trainer Bob Baffert had a handful of 3-year-old colts in here that have been transferred to trainer Tim Yakteen for a potential Kentucky Derby run as his latest request for a temporary injunction was denied by the KY courts. He’ll be forced to sit out another Kentucky Derby. 2-National Treasure was an odds-on beaten favorite 3rd in the G3 Sham finishing behind next-out winner Newgate. The son of Quality Road makes 2nd start off the mini-freshening and is likely to move forward off that effort. There’s always been high expectations for $3.55 million purchase 7-Hejazi (By Bernardini) who broke through the Maiden ranks in most recent start January 4 with a (99) winning Beyer. He stretches back out today and has trained extremely well since that last win including a recent “best of 63” 5-furlong bullet in :59.1. He lacks the seasoning of some of the others lined up in here, but 8-Geaux Rocket Ride was a strong debut winner over a talented next-out Baffert colt winner Sonoran and is bred to relish today’s stretch-out for trainer Richard Mandella.
Race #7: A mandatory payout for the 20-cent Rainbow Pick Six begins here. 6-Cash Equity (Fr) gets some much-needed class relief this afternoon dropping in for a tag after four consecutive graded stakes tries. The 5-year-old gelding is reunited with winning rider. He doesn’t, however, hold a distinct advantage figure-wise over this competitive bunch. 2-Carmelita’s Man is one of four geldings in here coming off a recent last out (89) Beyer with runner-up 14/1 finish February 5. He makes his 3rd start off the bench today for trainer Dean Pederson. D’Amato’s other runner 8-Lincoln Hawk stretches back out to a 1 1/8 miles today off a fast-closing wide 3rd going shorter while finishing in tandem behind second choice Carmelita’s Man.
Race #8: 9-Snapp Daddy has run figures in both career starts that are superior to these and gets key rider change upgrade to Dettori. 1-Trusty Rusty goes turf to dirt and drops back down in class for Team O’Neill making his 3rd start off the form cycle. His stablemate 10-Stop and a Tres has improved figure-wise with each subsequent start while finishing second in last 3 starts.
Race #9: 4-Carmen Miranda has run very well in all four grass starts for D’Amato and finished 2nd behind repeat next-out winner Tom’s Beauty in most recent effort. 6-Honey Jar cuts back to a sprint today after surrendering a commanding lead when running off in most recent start January 28. This 5-year-old mare has hit the board in 6 of 7 starts and owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (81). 1-Runninwiththeboyz has won 3 straight for Berrios and Mullins but gets stiff class test this afternoon cutting back to sprint try.
Race #10: The ultra-consistent 3-Manitowish has hit the board in 10 consecutive races and owns the field’s best last-out main track Beyer (89). The 5-year-old gelding has good tactical early zip and figures to work himself out a favorable journey this afternoon. The 7-furlong specialist 1-Synthesis returns west (fresh off the plane) for trainer David Jacobson after a successful campaign on the east coast and comes off a 2nd place dead heat finish at Aqueduct February 5. His prior success over the track and at this tricky distance makes him an immediate threat. 6-Next Revolt steps up off the claim in good form for barn that clicks over 30% with new acquisitions.
Race #11: The D’Amato barn enters 4 in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile this afternoon led by multiple G2 winner 6-Hong Kong Harry who is 9 for 13 lifetime and has won 5 of his last 6 starts. His last pair of winning Beyers (101;100) are tops in this field. The ultra-game 3-Materoffoxhounds was a beaten favorite in last pair but adds blinkers today off sharp runner-up finish in the G3 San Marcos. Today’s likely pacesetter is 4-Air Force Red who has won 2 of his last 3 starts and was only a neck shy in most recent 3rd place finish in the G3 Thunder Road a month ago. He’s 5 for 9 over the SA turf course and is usually tough to overhaul when establishing a clear early lead.
Race #12: Trainer Michael Stidham makes a race appearance in southern California today sending out grade 1 winner 11-Proxy who makes his second start off the bench today after finishing a well-beaten 5th in the G1 Pegasus Cup at Gulfstream. He’s trained well since that effort and two sharp tries at CD two and three-back (earning triple digit Beyers) make him the horse to beat this afternoon despite the outside draw. 5-Defunded has won 2 of last 3 for Baffert and comes off a good 2nd in the G1 Pegasus Cup when finishing in front of top choice when hounded through a pressured early pace. The combination of some other speed signed on and today’s additional real estate could make him somewhat vulnerable in the late stages. 7-Heywoods Beach has an upset chance in here as one of the few that has proven to excel at today’s marathon distance for trainer John Sadler. The multiple G3 winner is a little light on Beyers but has a favorable grinding style that fits well here.