Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 2-If Id Told You (Race #7)
Race #1: The speedy 8-Self Isolation seeks third straight win for Team O’Neil and has two sharp drills since last convincing score when meeting winners for the first time. Another win appears well within reach in Saturday’s opener that features 12 races on the card with four graded stakes scheduled. 5-Ever Smart has never gone this far but has good early tactical early zip and comes off a good second behind next-out winner Thrumps Dream who returned with an (82) Beyer on April 17. A potential two-speed number to fill out the exacta. 7-Jibber Jabber is a lightly raced 4-year-old filly that can move forward making 2nd start off the 8-month freshening.
Race #2: 4-Court Snort is trained by quarter horse specialist Sergio Morfin so the thinking is this filly will be super quick from the gate and perhaps be long gone in this 4 ½-furlong dash. 1-Cocktail Princess is by multiple G1 winner Stay Thirsty and comes in with some snappy gate drills. She needs an alert break from the rail. 5-Paddle On Polly is by freshman sire Smokem who won his debut at Del Mar.
Race #3: 2-Pistachio Princess was a winner two-back against weaker but now goes 2nd off the claim today for trainer Lorenzo Ruis who is 23 for 48 (48%) with a $3.85 ROI with this claiming angle the past 3 years. This 4-year-old filly could surprise here at a price in contentious turf sprint. 5-Gallovie has speed; goes route to sprint, owns the field’s best last-out turf Beyer (80), and makes 3rd start off the bench for Baltas. This mare is 2 for 20, however. 1-On Purpose moves inside and projects to get a nice trip behind the speed for hot barn.
Race #4: 3-Brickyard Ride is 11 for 21 lifetime and returns to the main track seeking 4th straight for trainer Craig Lewis. He looks like the controlling speed again at a short price while seeking second graded-stakes score. Gulfstream invader 5-Miles Ahead is also 11 for 21 and makes first start for new trainer Brian Koriner off three straight wins in South Florida including a 102 Beyer in most recent start February 19. 1-Tigre Di Slugo runs well fresh and has trained sharply for return effort. Tiger slugs up for an underneath placement.
Race #5: 11-Really Big News has a strong chance in here if he can negotiate the outside draw and work out a trip. The 4-year-old colt had a troubled journey in most recent start against winners April 2 but was a sharp Maiden winner two-back. A projected lively race flow helps his cause. The price will be right. 2-Johnny Podres comes off two decent back-to-back turf tries for Miyadi and should have plenty of pace to close into this afternoon. Class dropping 3-Moose Mitchell returns to turf and posted a strong (85) Beyer in lone grass try to start this year behind stakes winner Smuggler’s Run who also defeated him on the main track in the Echo Eddie in most recent start.
Race #6: In lieu of taking 1/5 on 3-Express Train a better alternative is recent claim 2-Holden the Lute for trainer John Sadler. The 5-year-old gelding looks like the controlling speed and could get brave up front if allowed to carve out some moderate fractions. He’s never faced this caliber of colts or geldings, but comes into this race in incredibly sharp form and has two sharp drills since being purchased. 3-Express Train has won 3 straight including the G1 Santa Anita Handicap in most recent effort with an impressive career best (104) Beyer speed figure. The logical choice again but hard to take 1/5 or possibly 1/9. 5-Stilleto Boy must be respected off three consecutive third place finishes at the Grade 1 level. A strong 5-furlong drill in preparation for this today.
Race #7: Beaten favorite 2-If Id Told You comes off back-to-back second place finishes against this level and should get an even better race flow today to set-up his strong late kick. A snappy 4-furlong drill April 24 indicates he remains in top form. 7-Continental Divide stretches back out on the class drop and looms a BIG threat from off the pace at this reduced level. 9-Standing O earned a career best grass Beyer in most recent effort for D’Amato and is eligible to improve making 2nd start off the layoff.
Race #8: 7-Banjo Queen goes turf to dirt and makes 2nd start off 45-180 day freshening for trainer Dan Blacker. This conditioner is a solid 3 for 11 (27%) with this layoff & surface change angle. 5-Family Affair has had gate issues in both career starts but earned the field’s best last-out Beyer (77) despite a troubled trip and goes 2nd time Lasix and Blinkers today. 3-Side By Side has good gate speed if she can break alertly and gets key jockey change going 2nd time Lasix today.
Race #9: 7-Oubabe beaten favorite last pair but makes the all-important 3rd start off the bench today and looks primed to finally break through the Maiden ranks this afternoon for Hernandez and Sadler. 1-Forgiving Spirit has not been seen since bleeding incident in well-backed debut last summer at Del Mar. The 3-year-old gelding by multiple G1 winner Shaman Ghost adds Lasix today for new barn and has trained well for return. 4-Orth is making start number 7 but has improving grass Beyers for breeder/owner/trainer Eric Kruijac.
Race #10: 4-Park Avenue moves back to the main track off convincing win and she’s been equally effective on dirt for trainer John Sadler. This filly looks like the controlling speed and this barn is 11 for 33 (33%) the past 2 years with horses going turf to dirt at Santa Anita. 9-Miss Bigly may not want to go this far but is an obvious contender off back-to-back graded stakes placements. This lucrative jockey/trainer combo scored with Virulente and Hong Kong Harry before the break. 8-Bye Bye Bertie has won 4 straight with last three victories coming on turf. This mare gets a serious class test this afternoon moving back to dirt but there’s no denying her incredibly sharp form.
Race #11: 7-Beyond Brilliant is the speed and class of this field as the lone G1 winner. The Twirling Candy colt owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (101) and should move forward making 2nd start off the bench for Sheriffs. 6-Masteroffoxhounds has back class and was prepped nicely for this with runner-up finish March 25. The 5-year-old is proven at the distance. 4-Dicey Mo Chara improving Beyer turf figures and established at extended turf routes makes this gelding a serious threat making 3rd start off the layoff.
Race #12: Recent Maiden winner 3-Indulge has good early zip and tries grass for the first time. He’s by Kantharos who gets 15% winners in turf sprints according to DRF Formulator. The gelding’s March 27 victory has produced two next-out winners. 7-Motorious rallied nicely for the place spot despite tardy beginning in U.S. unveiling. The 4-year-old is one of two Phil D’Amato-trained geldings lined up in here for the nightcap. 1-Clayton Delaney loves this turf course and barn is 3 for 10 (30%) with turf sprinters returning 0ff a 61-180 day freshening with Gonzalez onboard the past 2 years.