Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 9-Sawasdee (Race 5)
Race #1: There’s always been big expectations for 1-Hejazi from the Baffert barn who cost $3.5 million at auction. Today, he drops back into MDSW ranks after a 3rd place finish in the G1 American Pharoah. The son of Bernardini adds Lasix this afternoon; has hit the board in all three career starts and comes in with two strong recent Beyers (99;100) that simply lay over this field. Team O’Neill has a pair of first-time starters lined up in here. 2-I Don’t Get It is by G1 winner Cloud Computing and has trained well for his unveiling. This jockey/trainer combo are a solid 6 for 16 (38%) with a $4.16 ROI the past two years at SA with debut runners. The other Baffert 4-Worcester (By Empire Maker) should improve substantially in career start number two and Hernandez sticks.
Race #2: This $10,000 claiming route for fillies and mares has come up light on early pace and it’s hard to say who will be aggressively sent and perhaps shake free. 3-A Broken Breeze stretches back out making second start off the layoff and claim for low-profile winning connections. She was 2nd at this level two-back going the mile trip. 1-Sacred Beauty goes synthetic to dirt off the Reed Saldana claim for new outfit that has better than average numbers with new barn acquisitions. This 4-year-old filly has run some competitive figures against better on dirt back over the summer and appears to fit well here. 4-Secret Square has shown little as of late but has flashed speed in route attempts in prior starts and lands in a weak field without many other alternatives.
Race #3: 2-Holden the Lute made a premature move in most recent start on November 25 when hitting the front and then eventually yielding late and settling for second. The ultra-consistent gelding has been 1st or 2nd in six of his last 7 starts and is the one to beat again. 3-Bold Endeavor moves up off sharp win and claim for trainer Peter Miller who is 7 for 22 (32%) the past two years at SA with new barn acquisitions. Golden Gate invader 6-Midnight Mammoth has speed on the outside and has trained well over the main track here.
Race #4: A tricky Maiden Claiming route for 3-year-old colts and geldings with several runners dropping in class, adding Lasix and making surface switches. 7-Low Connections makes first start over the main track after 4 consecutive turf tries and drops in for a first-time tag today with the addition of blinkers and Lasix. The 3-year-old gelding is by Nyquist who gets a solid 18% with his dirt route runners. 1-Looks Rare flashed good speed and finished 2nd when overlooked at 21/1 in late November debut try. The colt adds Lasix for career start number two and switches to Dettori who has multiple wins this meet for these connections. 3-Russells Hustle is also making his first start on dirt dropping into Maiden Claimers while adding both blinkers and Lasix like top pick. O’Neill’s other colt 5-Donttestyourluck has shown little in two starts but moves back to main track today on the stretch-out and drops in for a tag with blinkers and Lasix on.
Race #5: The 5-year-old gelding 9-Sawasdee makes second start off the claim and has speed from the outside. He’ll be tough to reel in here if able to repeat top efforts shown sprinting two and three-back at both DMR and SA where he earned Beyer figs above par for this level. 2-Sonic Brees has been a popular commodity at the claiming box the past several months and fits well against this group. 4-Mighty Matt has yet to string two wins together but closed from far back at Los Al to get up against cheaper in last co-toping the field’s best last out main track Beyer (75). It was a visually sharp performance.
Race #6: 2-Hopkins did not fare well in first route attempt when tiring to 6th in the G2 San Antonio December 26 but cuts back to a sprint today on the class drop and was a sharp winner at 6 panels two-back. 7-Traeger has certainly turned the corner since disappointing debut try firing off 1st and 2nd place finishes in last 4 starts. He cuts back to a sprint today where he had back-to-back runner-up finishes over this strip two and three-back with solid figs. He projects to get a favorable stalking trip this afternoon with outside draw. The speedy 5-Took Charge is back on dirt and makes second start off the bench for trainer Leonard Powell. The ultra-consistent 6-year-old gelding has hit he board in last 8 consecutive starts.
Race #7: It’s tough to separate the Baffert pair in today’s Grade 3 La Canada Stakes. 3-Gandora has speed and the rail making second start off the bench. The talented 4-year-old filly by Quality Road has won 3 of 5 career starts and drops out of the G1 La Brea where she finished an even 5th. She’s back to routing today and fired a “best of 44” 5-furlongs in :59.1 in preparation for this. She’ll try and bottom out this field. Her stablemate 6-Under the Stars drops out of the same race as barn mate; is proven going two turns and is the more accomplished of the duo having won two grade 2’s. 5-Natural Colour (GB) is unproven over the main track but makes 2nd start off the bench with Prat and someone needs to finish 3rd.
Race #8: 1-Redline is proven off the layoff and returns this afternoon off a mini-freshening for trainer John Sadler. This barn is 8 for 22 (36%) with a $2.37 ROI the past two years with dirt runners returning off 61-180 days’ rest. He draws the rail and should be able to save a ton of ground before launching a late bid. 3-Anarchist makes first start in southern California for new barn and has worked well for return attempt today having been sidelined the last 6 months. His last Maiden breaking try at Ellis produced 3 next-out winners and this looks like a reasonable place to start his new 2023 campaign as a 4-year-old. 4-Augusta Melody was a strong second at 13/1 when last seen on November 26 running close to par for this class level and makes 2nd start off the bench today for trainer Tim Yakteen. The 6-year-old gelding shows 5 local drills since that encouraging effort and should be forwardly placed.