Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 3-Geaux Rocket Ride (Race 6)
The 12-race Saturday afternoon blockbuster program features four graded stakes highlighted by the $750,000 Grade 1 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby in race six. There’s also a mandatory Rainbow Pick Six payout beginning in race seven. We’ve put a ticket together (below).
In addition, be sure to check out the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Mandatory Pick Six Payout Show on the Players’ Podcast. PTF hosts pro horseplayer Duke Matties and Jeff “Chappy” Chapman. It’s available at the following link: bit.ly/3MILrQD
*First post starts at 12 noon.
Race #1: 3-Doitforandrew (GB) has been a beaten favorite in last three starts for D’Amato but goes 2nd time blinkers today and projects to get a favorable stalking trip. He came up a head short in lone downhill turf try two-back. The lightly raced 8-Thorne House has never been worse than 1st or 2nd in 5 career starts and was a strong winner over the downhill strip when last seen back in January. 7-Anmer Hall is one of three Peter Miller-trained geldings lined up in the Saturday allowance downhill grass opener. This 4-year-old returns off a 7-month freshening with an encouraging work pattern and should be plenty comfortable with today’s turnback.
Race #2: 4-Tom’s Regret began her career 2 for 2 and finished 3rd to next-out winner Always Seeking at Golden Gate in most recent start on March 12 while returning off an extended layoff. This stakes-winning filly returns to Santa Anita today and projects to be on or close to the front. The undefeated 5-Ceiling Crusher seeks third straight and first stakes win for Team O’Neil. Another forward move on the Beyer scale will make her tough against this small field. Her stablemate 1-Absolute Zero has not been out since August of last year but is 2 for 3 lifetime including a stakes win over this strip in second start. She shows a series of steady a.m. drills for today’s return try.
Race #3: 5-Time to Party was less than 2 lengths behind Cash Equity in most recent start and now returns to his preferred mile trip where he’s 3 for 5. The gelding’s recent cycle of good race/bad race pattern leans toward a top effort this afternoon for Bravo and Papaprodromou. 6-Cash Equity (Fr) was a sharp N2X winner in most recent effort March 4 and now cuts back to a mile this afternoon making his third start of the form cycle for D’Amato. The 5-year-old gelding owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (91) and retains Hernandez. 1-Yeng Again goes two sprints to a route with an improving Beyer pattern; makes 3rd start off the layoff and projects to get a decent journey from the rail.
Race #4: Trainer Bob Baffert has a pair of 3-year-old colts lined up in here and they both figure to attract most of the public’s wagering support. 6-Cavendish (By Flatter) is nicely drawn to the outside with likely sharp gate speed. This lucrative jockey/trainer combo are an impressive 9 for 13 (69%) with a $4.03 ROI with first time starters at Santa Anita. His stablemate 1-Dillinger makes the all-important 3rd career start today. He comes off a beaten favorite 2nd with an (81) Beyer when returning off an 8-month freshening. Another move forward makes him the one to beat in here. 4-Navy Man is back sprinting where he ran two of his better races to start career. The son of Bolt d’Oro goes 2nd time blinkers today for trainer Michael McCarthy.
Race #5: This is the first of four graded stakes on the afternoon and trainer Phil D’Amato has 3 of the 7 entrants. 6-Masteroffoxhounds was run down and swallowed up by stablemate Gold Phoenix (Ire) in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile back on March 4. Today, however, he stretches back out to a 1 ¼ miles where he holds a solid record (6-2-3-0) and figures to get a more comfortable non-pressured lead. The multiple stakes winner 7-Gold Phoenix (Ire) comes off a career best win with 10/1 upset in the Kilroe and projects to be motoring home late once again. He owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (98). Grade 2 winner 2-Dicey Mo Chara (GB) has been right there with the top pair exchanging blows the last several months and comes off a mini-freshening for Hernandez and Powell. The gelding figures close again with a good trip.
Race #6: A field of eight 3-year-old Kentucky Derby prospects line up here looking to springboard a top effort into a starting spot in the big dance 4 weeks from now in Louisville. The Baffert transplant 6-National Treasure appears no worse for wear after scratching March 4 because of a foot bruise and has trained exceptionally well since then. The son of Quality Road has yet to run a poor race in all 4 career starts and likely benefited from the late scratch of 3-Geaux Rocket Ride. He’ll be on or close to the lead in here. 5-Practical Move is the son of multiple Grade 1 winner Practical Joke and owns the field’s lone triple digit Beyer. He comes off back-to-back Grade 2 wins for trainer Tim Yakteen. The colt comfortably held off both Geaux Rocket Ride and Skinner in the Grade 2 San Felipe and has trained well since then including a “best of 95” 5-furlong bullet drill March 26. 8-Mandarin Hero (Jpn) is the unknown Japanese runner who is a neck shy from being a perfect 5 for 5. This colt by multiple G1 winner Shanghai Bobby shows one slow drill over the local footing, but it would be foolish to toss him knowing how successful the runners from Japan have performed in the past 18 months worldwide.
Race #7: This is the opening leg of the mandatory Rainbow Pick six. 2-Kangaroo Court returned off a 7-month layoff with another top effort March 4 after a blowout Maiden win last August at Del Mar where he scampered away by 14 widening lengths. This bargain priced gelding owns the field’s best Beyer (95) and looks primed to win 3rd straight while notching first stakes victory for trainer Tim Yakteen. 3-Bus Buzz finished behind top choice in the aftermentioned March 4 event as the slight even money favorite. This week’s pre-race comments from trainer Steve Knapp indicate he’ll be sent fast and hard and hope to run these off their feet. 7-Clouseau has been freshened since career best win and Beyer back in January and seems the most logical colt to benefit from a pace meltdown. This barn has been red-hot all meet long clicking close to 40%.
20-Cent Rainbow Pick Six: 2,3,7 With 2,3,5,8 With 1,3,9 With 10 with 1,3,5,8 With 1,3,10= $86.40
Race #8: It took eight starts to break through, but 2-Irish Prophet looked visually impressive with January Maiden win and has trained well enough since then for conditioner Neil Drysdale. An encouraging sign that Hernandez sticks along for the colt’s first crack against winners. The leading rider had a 13/1 winner on Friday. 3-Silver Surfer (GB) ran extremely well for D’Amato when flashing speed and tiring to 4th on February 11, considering it was the gelding’s first start since October 2021. This import showed some decent ability prior to arriving stateside and should move forward this afternoon making 2nd start off that long layoff and stretching out another eighth of a mile. His stablemate 5-Reckless Spirit was a sharp runner-up in that same event and also makes his second start off the bench. The additional real estate should suit him well.
Race #9: 1-Joe Don Looney was a sharp looking 4/1 wire-to-wire winner going 7 furlongs from this rail slot in last effort March 4 earning the field’s best last out main track Beyer (86). The gelding gets in light again and will look to employ similar tactics. 9-Clem Labine gets some much-needed class relief this afternoon and his top (96) Timeform late pace figure indicates he’s most likely to benefit from a pace collapse. 3-Manitowish has hit the board in 11 consecutive races while carving out a pair of victories and figures to get another favorable pressing trip.
Race #10: The Grade 2 winning 10-Leggs Galore brings a stellar 9 for 18 career record into this G3 event and comes off a 5-month break. She’s extremely tough to beat off a layoff and will be hard to run down from this outside post in what’s likely her last career star. The main threat is stablemate 8-Amy C (GB) who is an impressive 3 for 3 over the downhill course for D’Amato and has trained well for her first start in 3 months. 3-Canoodling is an off the pace threat on the turnback and she’s proven off the bench for trainer Mike Puype.
Race #11: 3-Clearly Unhinged rattled off a strong (89) Beyer in good looking debut score back in February and has been slowly coaxed along since then with steady drills for trainer Michael McCarthy. Her recent 5-furlong “best of 53” 5-furlong bullet drill April 1 was impressive, and she’s bred to relish two-turns. The unbeaten 5-Faiza seeks 5th straight win for Baffert and has already registered a pair of grade 3 victories. Her Beyer figures haven’t been particularly imposing but that hasn’t stopped her from dominating her competition thus far. She might be worth trying to beat, however, at likely short odds. The Curlin filly 1-Venganza is hard to gauge having faced only one other rival in March 11 Maiden 6-furlong win. Nonetheless, she’s bred to like two-turns and her recent a.m. drills have been strong for hall of fame connections.
Race #12: 1-Corporal Violette (Ire) adds Lasix and is nicely drawn for first stateside attempt for trainer Paddy Gallagher. This 4-year-old filly is by Starspangledbanner (Aus), who is a multiple Grade 1 winner overseas. She doesn’t land in an overly difficult 1x allowance event and can take the nightcap under careful handling by Frankie Dettori. 3-Annaghlasa (Ire) flashed good speed but faded badly when overmatched in the Grade 3 Santa Ana in most recent start March 12 but drops down into a more fitting level today for D’Amato. A wire-to-wire threat. The late closing 10-Shocking Grey has two wins and threes second place finishes from 5 career starts for Mullins and comes off a career best turf Beyer. A logical fit looking to move through the next condition level.