Santa Anita (Saturday-4/1/23) By Dean Keppler


Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 6-Carmen Miranda (Race 1)

Race #1: It appears trainer Phil D’Amato has two live fillies in the Saturday afternoon opener. 6-Carmen Miranda has shown the ability to sit and pounce and that style should serve her well in what’s projected to be a swiftly run sprint in the early stages. Her back-to-back (79) turf Beyers are tops in this field. Her stablemate and better price of the pair 5-Benedict Canyon returns to the west coast and makes first start in new barn off a year layoff. She doesn’t have much turf pedigree to speak of but has trained extremely well for her return effort and these connections rarely place runners on surfaces they can’t handle. The lightly raced 3-Procrastination makes second start off the six-month layoff and initial turf try for trainer Michael McCarthy. Her sire Not This Time gets 14% with his turf sprint prodigy and this gal has shown good early zip.

Selections: 6-5-3

Race #2: 2-Don’s Dayna is a 4-year-old by an unraced sire Heaven’s Glory (Jpn) who makes her long awaited debut for trainer Kristen Mulhall. The barn is 3 for 18 (17%) with maiden claiming debut runners and this lucrative jockey/trainer combo scored with Kiss My Cat ($6) on Monday and was second with 13/1 Glass Beach on 3/17. 3-Sheza Lucky Charm attracted decent tote support on March 7 debut when finishing a wide closing 4th and can move forward today for trainer Leonard Powell. 6-Smiling Amy takes a huge class drop from Maiden Special Weight into a $50k claiming tag and makes 3rd start off the bench for barn that’s still looking for first win of the meet. This 3-year-old filly shows a strong “best of 70” sub :48 4-furlong bullet March 23.

Selections: 2-3-6


Race #3: 2-Annie’s Song (Ire) makes second start off the bench today for trainer John Sadler and takes a substantial class plunge dropping in for a $25k claiming tag. She shows a series of well-spaced drills since that effort and has proven success over this turf course. 6-Code Ribbon ships in from Golden Gate where she’s been battling classier gals on the synthetic and switches to grass today. Her lone turf try was a respectable 3rd in a small stake back in 2021, so all indications are she’ll handle the footing. 1-Too Much Heaven has been plagued by layoff lines for most of her career and returns off a year hiatus today for trainer Phil D’Amato. Nonetheless, she has speed and the rail draw and this barn typically has runners ready to fire off extended breaks.

Selections: 2-6-1

Race #4: The recently gelded 3-Texthelegend comes off a career best (89) Beyer speed figure for trainer Bob Baffert and looms a likely winner with anything resembling that type of February 12 performance. 4-Ultimate Gamble (a $1.75 million purchase by Medaglia d’oro) has not been out since 4th place debut finish back in August of last year at Del Mar. It was a maiden race won by multiple grade 1 winner Cave Rock and also featured a 2nd place effort by multiple grade 2 winner Practical Move. He adds Lasix today and has trained extremely well for conditioner Mark Glatt who gets above average numbers with his 2nd time starters. 2-Lift Off goes turf to dirt and adds blinkers for second career start and is likely to improve with switch to the main track. He flashed some early zip on March 4 before tiring in what was likely just a prime for today’s stretch-out and surface switch. His sire Mor Spirit is a multiple grade 1 winner going long on dirt.

Selections: 3-4-2

Race #5: 1-Six Feet improved substantially with the move to turf and going 2nd time blinkers February 18 flashing good speed when finishing in front of main rival 6-Billbernjoejohnick who he co-tops the last out turf Beyer with. He draws the rail today and figures to be on the engine once again. The aforementioned gelding BBJN makes second start off the extended layoff today for Mullins and must avoid another pace tussle with top pick. Of the three first time starters 5-Tizz a Good Thing has the flashiest of morning drills for trainer Carla Gaines. A series of consistent snappy works makes her an interesting alternative to top two, but barn is only 1 for 35 (3%) with turf sprint debut runners at Santa Anita the past 5 years.

Selections: 1-6-5

Race #6: 1-Catbernay has speed and the rail and comes off a sharp evening win at Los Al against better stock back on February 4. The 5-year-old gelding has run well during the afternoon programs as well and gets Franco today who has had good success for this stable. He should be tough to reel in at this reduced $10k level. 6-Box of Chocolates makes second start off the Jonathan Wong claim and this barn clicks close to 30% with this maneuver. The veteran gelding is only 3 for 33 lifetime but he’s never started at this $10k bottom level. 8-Mighty Matt doesn’t usually have the fastest beginnings but inhaled top pick four-back when in for a $8k claiming N2x going this 5 ½ furlong trip at Los Al. He switches to top rider for hot barn and would be no surprise.

Selections: 1-6-8

Race #7: The Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes is interesting in that none of the six fillies and mares entered here have registered a graded stakes victory as of yet. That will change this afternoon. 1-School Dance has finished behind Closing Remarks in last pair of graded stake tries but moves inside to the rail today and could potentially work out a better trip and turn the tables on that mare this afternoon. She has good positional speed and will get first run on the pacesetters. 6Seisai (Ire) makes first stateside start for trainer John Sadler off a five-month freshening and is graded stakes-placed overseas. Her local drills have been strong. 3-Closing Remarks is still looking for her first graded stakes win but has consistently gathered up checks against some of the top gals in the country. She’ll be rallying late once again for trainer Carla Gaines and comes off a horrific trip in the G2 Buena Vista. The mare was forced to check sharply losing valuable momentum and then re-rallied to grab the show spot in deep stretch. The caveat is that these types of trips often produce underlays.

Selections: 1-6-3

Race #8: 4-Storming Chrome has good speed and adds blinkers this afternoon for aggressive gate rider. This gelding could be tough to reel in late and the tempo of her a.m. drills have improved presumably with new equipment in place. This is his second time around two turns and at this reduced level. 2-Batukhan (Ire) has had several chances (0 for 12) but has three consecutive runner-up finishes at this level and has posted Beyer figures that simply stand out against this weak group. Having said that… this gelding gets 10th different rider this afternoon; removes the blinkers but is impossible to back on the win end with much confidence. 3-Agapetos didn’t show much returning off an extended layoff but is eligible to move forward making second start at this reduced level and going 2nd time blinkers.

Selections: 4-2-3

Race #9: 11-An Agent Mistake is wheeled back on 2 weeks rest and stretches back out this afternoon for Team O’Neill coming off a sharp 2nd March 18 at this level. This filly has run well at today’s mile trip and should be a handful with any normal second off the bench improvement. 5-Good Boo Joo goes two sprints to a route today for trainer Jeff Mullins while making key 3rd start of her form cycle. She’s bred to go two turns and shows a solid 5-furlong work in :58.4 on March 25– which adds to the appeal. 10-Glenall (Ire) finished 3rd behind repeat winner Very Scary at this level in most recent start February 4 and figures to get a live race flow to close into this afternoon. This 4-year-old filly makes first start off the Tim Yakteen claim. This barn is, however, 0 for 12 with recent purchases on grass. Mixed feelings.

Selections: 11-5-10

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