Santa Anita (Saturday-4/9/22)

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 2-Sterling Crest (Race #5)

There are 5 graded stakes on tap this afternoon with the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby (Race 6) being the premier feature for final point positioning and a potential slot for the May 7 Kentucky Derby. The action begins early with a 12:00 p.m. post.

Race #1: 3-Brooke Marie has been freshened since January and makes her Southern California unveiling for trainer Eddie Kenneally who is 0 for 5 with SA starters the past 5 years. Despite the trainer’s local record, this 6-year-old mare runs well off the bench; has been training well and appears ready to fire in today’s opening Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes. 1-Alice Marble has shown her versatility winning 4 of her last 6 starts for D’Amato on both dirt and turf. Her last pair of Turf Beyers at this trip fit well here. 6-Royal Address is gradually improving; makes 3rd start off the layoff and should get first jump on the closers.

Selections: 3-1-6

Race #2: 2-Moose Mitchell has speed and owns the field’s best last-out dirt Beyer (70). The 3-year-old gelding loves this course and looks like a prime repeat candidate. 4-Smuggler’s Run moves back to the main track after back-to-back sharp turf efforts. The gelding’s Maiden win back in January proves he candle dirt perfectly well. Beaten favorite 3-What in Blazes is on the improve and makes 3rd start off the layoff.

Selections: 2-4-3

Race #3: 8-Too Much Heaven goes dirt to turf and stretches out making 2nd start off the layoff for trainer Bill Spawr. This mare is a 3-time winner at this distance on grass and should be forwardly placed. 6-Bestrella is a logical fit at this level after missing by only a neck in most recent effort March 6 and earning the field’s best last-out grass Beyer (73). 1-Operatic should be able to save a ton of ground with inside draw and will be rolling late.

Selections: 8-6-1

Race #4: 5-Adare Manor comes in off back-to-back runaway wins and this talented filly by Uncle Mo looks like the controlling speed today for new barn. 3-Under the Stars is another talented Baffert transplant now under the care and guidance of trainer Tim Yakteen. She’s yet to finish off the board in 5 career starts and makes second start today around two turns. 2-Ain’t Easy returned off a 5-month freshening to finish 3rd in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes after suffering an ankle injury that placed her on the sidelines. She merits consideration with a move forward today.

Selections: 5-3-2

Race #5: Of the three Richard Baltas-trained fillies lined up in here 2-Sterling Crest might have the best positional speed. She draws well; has trained smartly and comes in off a decent third when facing winners for the first time March 6. The other Balta’s filly 4-Lucky Girl has won back-to-back turf stakes at double digit odds and fits well again here.  6-Sixteen Arches stretches out and makes U.S. stakes unveiling off Maiden score in Dundalk. Trainer Phil D’Amato has great numbers with these foreign import types.

Selections: 2-4-6

Race #6: This edition of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby runs through a group of former Bob Baffert-trained runners now under the care of former assistant trainer Tim Yakteen and morning line second choice 3-Forbidden Kingdom the winner of the Grade 2 San Vincente and San Felipe. Of the talented 3-year-old colts now under Yakteen’s supervision 6-Taiba has a strong chance to post the upset. The son of multiple G1 winner Gun Runner posted a strong (103) Beyer in smashing debut victory March 5. He still has a lot of boxes to check before becoming a potential Derby threat and superstar but appears to have a ton of raw talent. The colt is drawn well; projected to be forwardly placed if not on the lead and should handle his first attempt going two turns. Multiple stakes winner 3-Forbidden Kingdom has won two straight in dominating fashion; makes third start off the layoff and shows an improved Beyer of 98 when stretched-out. 4-Messier has been freshened since earning that triple digit Beyer in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis and has worked swiftly for new barn. The expectations are high for this son of Empire Maker and unlike main rival 3-Forbidden Kingdom needs a win today to solidify a Kentucky Derby starting position.

Selections: 6-3-4

Race #7: 4-Park Avenue was a strong wire-to-wire winner when trying turf for the first time March 20 for trainer John Sadler and meets a field void of serious early zip again today cutting back to a mile. Taken to repeat. 1-Going Global is 4 for 4 over the Santa Anita grass course and established Graded stakes winner for trainer Phil D’Amato. She runs well fresh and is training sharply for return. An ideal post for her running style. The other D’Amato-trained filly 2-Excelerina gets a stiff class this afternoon but has won two straight and is on the improve.

Selections: 4-1-2

Race #8: 1-Dutch Bus ran a decent third for this level March 13 against a handful of the same rivals and now goes 2nd off the claim for trainer Tim Yakteen. This barn is a solid 4 for 9 (44%) with a $3.13 ROI with this claiming angle the past 3 years at Santa Anita. 4-Arickaree is now 0 for 11 but drops back down to face claimers again today and has run par or better for this condition on multiple occasions. 10-Sawasdee comes out of that same March 13 race and just missed when dropping to this level and going turf to dirt.

Selections: 1-4-10

Race #9: 2-Granola Girl cuts back to a sprint this afternoon for trainer Richard Baltas and owns the field’s best last pair of grass Beyers. 4-Snark showed good improvement in last when switching to turf.  The filly has good tactical early zip. 6-Scenic Masterpiece makes the all-important 3rd career start after two decent efforts over the grass at this level. Finished behind 4-Snark in most recent try March 13.

Selections: 2-4-6

Race #10: 2-Connie Swingle has been freshened since stakes win at Del Mar last summer but has been training sharply in the a.m. for return which includes a recent “best of 43” 5-furlong gate drill April 3. She’ll be tough to reel in with an alert break. 1-Big Novel has never been off the board in 7 Southern California starts and has proven her versatility with success on both dirt and turf. The 3-year-old filly moves back to the main track; shortens up today and has a nice dirt drill in preparation for this stake outing. The other D’Amato filly 3-Carmen Miranda is winless since July debut victory last year but goes turf to dirt and makes 2nd start off the bench today.

Selections: 2-1-3

Race #11: The speedy east coast shipper 3-Arkaan has not been seen since January 2021 and has never attempted grass. He moves into shrewd barn, however, for first start off the layoff and has been working extremely well for return effort. A big wire-to-wire threat here. The lightly raced 8-Anaconda was a beaten favorite in last but makes 3rd start off the extended layoff this afternoon and cuts back to a sprint where he was a sharp winner two-back with a 90 Beyer. 4-Zoffarelli has a ton of back class and returns sprinting for the red-hot Mullins barn. An extremely difficult N2X optional claimer to decipher on paper.  Let’s see if it unfolds that way on the track.

Selections: 3-8-4

Race #12: 8-Candy for Carmel has not shown much in both local starts but drops in class today and switches to turf for the all-important third career start. The gelding is bred to handle grass and barn has decent numbers on the surface change. The lightly raced 7-Hulk has not shown much winning desire yet but has good positional speed and fits well enough against this group. 6-Halfbarberbingie goes dirt to turf making 3rd start off the bench. The 4-year-old colt will be rallying late.

Selections: 8-7-6

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