Santa Anita (Saturday-6/18/2022)

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 8-Peyong Chang (Race #9)

Race #1: The Phil D’Amato trained 4-year-old gelding 4-Flintmore has already run par for this level twice on turf when routing as part of his 3 runner-up finishes from 5 career starts. The one to beat again but is running out of excuses.  8-Rio King makes initial start in Southern California coming off a sharp grass route effort at Churchill when finishing 2nd despite a troubled trip. That was the colt’s first start in 8 months, and he goes 2nd time Lasix today. Improvement likely. 5-Kawazaki (Ire) makes his first start stateside with the addition of Lasix off very encouraging 3rd place finish on synthetic in a robust field at Dundalk back in February. These connections scored with new barn acquisition Balladeer at 12/1 on May 29.

Selections: 4-8-5

Race #2: 1-Spooky Lady is by multiple G1 winner Ghostzapper and comes in with a handful of encouraging works for trainer Sean McCarthy. This jockey/trainer combo are 2 for 2 with debut runners. 4-Real Fire was a decent 3rd in debut try on grass and now switches to the main track for career start number two. Trainer John Sadler is 4 for 13 (31%) with 2nd time starters sprinting on dirt. A strong 5-furlong bullet drill on June 13 adds to the appeal. It should be noted, however, that Hernandez moves to our top selection. 2-Roses N Gold debuts for team O’Neil and this jockey/trainer combo had 12/1 FTS Sharp Aza Tack post the upset on June 10.

Selections: 1-4-2

Race #3: The undefeated 5-Tom’s Regret by G1 winner Tom’s Tribute seeks 3rd straight win for trainer Jorge Periban and back-to-back stakes victories after strong win over a big field at Churchill. He returns to Santa Anita where he was a romping Maiden winner April 15. 3-Rousing Jewel shows three solid a.m. drills since Golden Gate synthetic debut win over a next-out winner. This barn clicks close to 30% with horses moving from synthetic to dirt. 1-E Z Pharis moves up to face winners off encouraging professional looking debut try and win April 30. This small stake attempt may not be too far out of reach with any normal second-out improvement.

Selections: 5-3-1

Race #4: 3-Fluent was off a step slow but didn’t have much of an excuse when finishing a disappointing 8th in most recent start against winners. She’s since been regrouped off the mini-freshening and shows good solid works for return try. Two-back she was a strong runaway Maiden winner with an (80) turf Beyer. 4-Annie’s Song rarely runs a bad race being ultra-consistent whether it’s sprinting or routing on turf and she drops in for a tag this afternoon. 5-Virulente is also getting some class relief on the cutback for D’Amato.

Selections: 3-4-5

Race #5: 1-So Softly makes career start number 9 today and has burned some money in last pair as the beaten favorite but moves inside with good gate speed and takes second crack at this reduced $20k Maiden Claiming level. Maybe today. 6-Beignet makes 2nd start off the layoff and takes a huge class plunge from Maiden Special Weight to Maiden Claimers. This barn clicks over 30% with this maneuver on dirt. 5-No People hasn’t shown much yet but makes the all-important 3rd career start today; adds blinkers, and takes a sizable class drop.

Selections: 1-6-5

Race #6: 3-Amy C owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (86) and drops out of the G3 Wilshire for trainer Phil D’Amato. The 4-year-old filly cuts back in distance moving to the downhill course and shows a nice a.m. drill for this June 12. 2-Havana Love has speed; moves inside and makes 2nd start off the layoff for O’Neil off decent runner-up finish at this same level. Hernandez sticks. Another likely to move forward today is the mare 6-Big Sweep who finished behind Havana Love May 22 but projects to get a favorable stalking trip from the outside and could very well reverse decisions over that filly today.

Selections: 3-2-6

Race #7: The Argentina import 3-Blue Stripe came to life in her second start stateside with an impressive win from off the pace in the G2 Margarita off an extended layoff. Another move forward and potential snappy pace to close into makes her dangerous right back. Multiple graded stakes winner 4-Private Mission has been training sharply off the mini-freshening for new barn and is expected to be today’s pacesetter in the G2 Santa Maria Stakes. The last time this filly went this trip in the G2 Zenyatta resulted in a powerful win with a (96) Beyer. 2-Bye Bye Bertie is 11 for 25 lifetime and moves back to the main track on the stretch-out for trainer Leonard Powell where she’s been equally effective in the past.

Selections: 3-4-2

Race #8: Of the two Phil D’Amato trained geldings 3-Gold Phoenix gets the nod dropping out of the G2 Whittingham where he finished 3rd beaten less than 2 lengths. The lightly raced 4-year-old has hit the board in each career start and comes off a lifetime best grass Beyer (95) which is also tops in this field. 4-Cathkin Peak could very well fill out the D’Amato exacta in here adding Lasix and making his first start in 7 months. This gelding is working extremely well for his return and has proven he can fire Big off the bench. The unknown commodity in here is 7-Planetario who makes his first start on American soil off three consecutive victories in Brazil for Hall of fame connections. He goes first time Lasix and attracts meet’s leading rider.

Selections: 3-4-7

Race #9: 8-Pyeong Chang has good speed and is nicely drawn outside for Mullins on the class drop. The 5-year-old gelding owns the field’s best last-out Beyer (73) and looks to be a handful to reel in with an alert break. 2-Tom Bombadil has run the same (64) Beyer in all 4 career starts but gets the addition of blinkers today and perhaps the equipment change will improve the gelding for McCarthy. 6-Thirsty Always drops off the May 15 claim which is never an encouraging sign but has some substantial back class and has never been offered this cheaply. If this 3-year-old has any life left in those legs he’ll wake up in this spot today.

Selections: 8-2-6

Race #10: Beaten favorite 1-Moody Jim (Ire) makes his 3rd start off the layoff today; has speed from the rail and takes a sizable class drop for Mullins. He’s a multiple winner at the track and distance and should be tough at this level if he can avoid a potential speed duel. As his Timeform late pace figure (113) indicates, 5-Liberal will be unleashing a strong rally from the back of the pack with the class drop and cut back to a mile. A contested early pace can only help enhance his chances. 3-Border Town makes first start for new barn and has some back class.

Selections: 1-5-3

Race #11: The Nyquist filly 3-Absolutely Zero faces colts today but ran to her reputation and betting support with sharp debut May 21 and looks ready to take next step facing winners in this small stake event. 9-Tahoma is another who ran to his top billing at first asking and should continue to improve as he stretches out further. The Maiden 1-Castleknock must negotiate the rail draw but is by multiple G1 winner Bernardini off a solid worktab and barn is 4 for 13 (38%) with a $3.09 ROI with the past two years with debut runners.

Selections: 3-9-1

Race #12: 1-If Id Told You comes off a troubled trip 5th as the even money favorite in most recent effort and looks to bounce back to the good form he showed two and three-back. The 5-year-old gelding is winless over the Santa Anita turf but projects to work out a favorable ground-saving journey this afternoon. The improving 3-Bang for Your Buck holds the honors of earning the field’s best last out grass Beyer (84) when stretched out to this distance in last start April 30 against a trio of those same runners he faces today including top pick. 10-Nolongerahobby is only 3 for 33 lifetime but has 13 runner-up finishes on the resume and his best races have been routing.

Selections: 1-3-10

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