Santa Anita (Saturday-4/2/22)

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 1-Gold Phoenix (Race #5)

Race #1: 6-Migration broke a step slow in debut and still managed to finish third while appearing to run sporadically in spots. He had the look of a horse that prefers a route of ground and needed some racing experience. Hall of fame jockey Mike Smith sticks here, and this barn has strong numbers with horses stretching out while making their 2nd start. 2-Beef Winslow owns the field’s best last-out Turf Beyer (80) and stretches out this afternoon for trainer Doug O’Neil. The colt is the projected front-runner making his 2nd start on Lasix and second off the bench. Beaten favorite 4-Flintmore moves back to a route of ground after a disappointing sprint try. Two-back he earned a solid figure routing and defeated next-out winner Oncoming who returned to break his Maiden March 18.

Selections: 6-2-4

Race #2: 3-Tembo has an upset chance if he can get a reasonable pace to close into this afternoon. The 5-year-old gelding drops in class and was a winner when last trying this distance three-back at Los Al. He goes 2nd off the claim today for trainer Mark Glatt and this barn is 9 for 29 (31%) with $3.15 ROI the past 3 years at Santa Anita with this claiming angle. 1-Lookin for Revenge has speed; the rail and drops in class for trainer Tim Yakteen. 2-Unbroken Star was a twice beaten favorite in last pair of efforts but takes a significant class drop today and fits well here.

Selections: 3-1-2

Race #3: French import 4-Balnikhov has been freshened off back-to-back wins for new trainer Phil D’Amato. This 3-year-old gelding has trained well for U.S. unveiling and barn does great work with these types. The gelding has done equally well on grass and could potentially trip out nicely stalking Durante and Sumter. Stakes-winner 5-Sumter seeks third straight score for Mandella and comes off career best effort and Beyer (87). He could potentially improve off that try making 2nd start off the layoff. 2-Handy Dandy moves inside off troubled trip 2nd behind Sumter with improving Beyer numbers.

Selections: 4-5-2

Race #4: The speedy mare 6-Circulodeganadoras cuts back to sprint and appears to be a strong wire-to-wire threat today in a race condition and distance that traditionally favors front-runners. Likely heavy chalk 3-Bella Renella seeks third straight win after defeating better in both pair of efforts. She drops to face $10k foes this afternoon and on paper and raw numbers is quickest of this group. Having said that the class drop off back-to-back victories is somewhat suspicious. She’s hard to trust at low odds. 7-Discernment cuts back to preferred distance.

Selections: 6-3-7

Race #5: A full field of colts and geldings line up for this grass route. An optional $50k claiming 1X. The race runs through 1-Gold Phoenix who was a beaten runner-up favorite in last pair of tries since shipping over from Ireland. The 4-year-old gelding from the D’Amato barn goes two sprints to a route and moves inside today. His last two Turf Beyers make him the one to beat again. Today’s Best Bet. 3-Cane Creek Road also stretches back out; has good gate speed and is a 3-time winner at the distance. The ultra-consistent 12-Nerves of Steel loves this turf course and comes out of a sharp victory over two next-out winners. The 4-year-old gelding has his hands full today, however, while trying to negotiate a decent trip from the outside post.

Selections: 1-3-12

Race #6: 2-Vittorio stretches back out today; removes the blinkers and is the likely pacesetter. He was a winner at this distance 3-back and this barn has solid numbers with horses going sprint to route. If this colt can carve out moderate fractions, he might just steal it and post the upset. 1-Shaaz is an undefeated $1.1 million dollar colt by Uncle Mo who stretches out today and makes the all-important third career start for Baffert off two sharp efforts. They included a blowout debut win where he earned a (105) Beyer speed figure and a 2nd place finish February 5 where he was placed 1st via DQ.  5-Soy Tapatio was overmatched in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap March 5 but drops down to a competitive level today

Selections: 2-1-5

Race #7: Twice beaten favorite last pair 9-Hail Freedom draws well; returns to blinkers and has good gate speed back on the hillside course. Tepid choice.  Recent Maiden graduate 3-Really Big News steps up to face winners for the first time but is on the improve and makes 3rd start off the bench today. This jockey/trainer combo have teamed up to win 2 of their last 3 starts. The other O’Neil runner is 2-Franklin One Star who is lightly raced; goes dirt to turf and has some potential upside. He’ll be closing in the lane.

Selections: 9-3-2

Race #8: 2-Family Affair has not been seen since well-backed January debut where she was off a step slow from the rail; rushed up along the inside before the quarter mile mark and then was forced to check while in tight quarters. She finished evenly that afternoon and adds blinkers and Lasix today for start number two. Several horses have returned from that “key race” event to win, and trainer Peter Eurton has solid numbers with 2nd time starters. If her last Beyer figure (78) is legit 4-Secret Fix looms a BIG threat with another move forward in career start number three. 6-Karin With an I must negotiate the rail draw for sprint debut but is well-bred and has trained sharply in the a.m. for trainer Richard Mandella.

Selections: 2-4-6

Race #9: 9-Equilove is a likely repeater coming off a stylish win February 12. This race has produced multiple next-out winners and the 4-year-old filly has trained sharply since that victory. She projects to sit a favorable stalking trip from the outside and will perhaps get the jump on the stone-cold closers.  If a snappy pace materializes as projected 1-Taming the Tigress should be in an advantageous position along the rail to make a strong run late with clear sailing. The 4-year-old filly is a sharp 4 for 13 in her career. 10-Kalon will likely drop back and make one late run from this outside post for trainer John Sadler.

Selections: 9-1-10


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