Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 8-Thirsty (Race 9)
Race #1: 2-Sareeha (Ire) has 5 consecutive 2nd place finishes dating back to April 2022 for trainer Graham Motion. The 4-year-old filly adds blinkers today with improving Beyer numbers and will certainly attract plenty of tote action again in the Sunday opener off the mini-freshening. Trainer Michael McCarthy has a pair of fillies lined up in here and both are coming off extended layoffs. 1-Chloe’s Crown will likely be the better price of the two. She goes two sprints to a route and her breeding suggests she’ll relish two turns. 3-Infinite Empire stretches back out today off multiple recent trouble lines. Hernandez climbs back aboard.
Race #2: Trainer Bob Baffert has four of the five 3-year-old colts entered in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes. 3-Fort Warren has not been seen since sharp wire-to-wire October Maiden score but could be the fastest out of the gate of the stable’s quadrant of runners. 1-Havnameltdown has won 3 of 4 career starts including two graded stakes events and is proven at 7 furlongs. 2-Faustin holds the recency edge of the Baffert group coming off an impressive looking Maiden victory December 26. The $800k Curlin colt looked very professional drawing off in the late stages after a sluggish beginning.
Race #3: Baffert’s parade of well-bred expensive talented 3-year-olds continues in this MDSW dirt sprint. 3-Sonoran was sharp in his debut try finishing a good second with a field’s best (83) Beyer speed figure. The colt adds Lasix today for career start number two and has three solid a.m. drills since his encouraging unveiling. His stablemate 1-Uncle Jane is a $675K Keeneland purchase by Uncle Mo who arrives with barn’s typical flashy worktab and attracts Hernandez. 2-Geaux Rocket Ride is by G1 winner Candy Ride (ARG) debuting for the Mandella barn with Lasix off some solid morning works. This jockey/trainer combo are 5 for 23 (22%) with a $2.51 ROI when teamed up with debuting runners at SA.
Race #4: If a swift pace materializes as projected it will likely benefit the favorite 7-Grazed My Heart who goes route to sprint; adds Lasix and has finished first or second in her last 5 consecutive starts. 1-Golden Age also shortens up from a mile to 6 furlongs while making her second grass start. She should also benefit from the addition of Lasix and an expedited early pace. 10-Bye Bye Buggsy has speed from the outside; goes two routes to a sprint and was a sharp grass Maiden wire-to-wire winner two-back. She’s yet another adding Lasix.
Race #5: 5-Big Buzz goes 2nd off the claim; turf to dirt and is wheeled back on only 5 days’ rest for trainer Reed Saldana. The veteran 8-year-old gelding should get a live race flow to set-up his late kick. 1-Next Revolt stretches out off the claim and a sharp runner-up finish in last when just missing by a nose against similar. This lucrative jockey/trainer combo are 3 for 5 (60%) with a $2.92 ROI with new barn purchases at SA. A small but significant stat. 2-No Hang Charlie showed little in last few efforts but makes second start off the bench today and takes a sizable class plunge. An encouraging recent 4-furlong bullet drill at San Luis Rey on January 25 hints at a possible form reversal.
Race #6: This is a tricky $50k Maiden Claiming grass sprint with several runners dropping in class and coming off layoffs. A probable spread race for those participating in the multi-race horizontal exotics. 3-Greenbow returns off the mini-freshening with blinkers on and makes first start for a tag. This barn clicks close to 30% with MDSW to Maiden Claiming dropdowns and his turf sprint try two-back was decent. 5-Storming Chrome also drops in for a tag making the all-important 3rd career start for trainer Neil Drysdale who is 4 for 12 (33%) with runners taking this significant class drop. First time gelding 9-Andros is yet another to consider on the MDSW to MDCLM class drop and freshening.
Race #7: This optional $50k claiming 1x looks to run through Team O’Neill who has a pair of 3-year-old fillies entered. 7-Ceiling Crusher has not been out in 7 months but when last seen was a strong 5-furlong wire-to-wire maiden winner over this course with a field’s best (72) Beyer. She makes first start for new barn off some solid a.m. drills. Her stablemate 2-Fun Money has good positional early zip; goes turf to dirt; and takes a substantial class plunge. 5-Cholly returns to sprinting on the main track on the class drop and was a strong game Maiden winner two-back on dirt at DMR.
Race #8: 4-Motorous (GB) is difficult to look past having won two straight for D’Amato and coming off an impressive (99) turf Beyer on January 2 after a tardy start. The 5-year-old gelding has a devastating late kick. The ultra-consistent 7-Lane Way has been first or second in last six consecutive grass sprint tries and gets some class relief dropping out of the G2 Joe Hernandez Stakes. 6-Coulthard (Ire) comes in off a troubled 3rd place finish behind top choice and now makes first start for new barn while making 3rd start off the layoff. His Beyer figures are moving in the right direction.
Race #9: 8-Thirsty flashed speed and faded in debut against straight MDSW types and now drops in for a tag for career start number two. Trainer Peter Miller is 8 for 26 (31%) with MDSW to Maiden Claiming dropdowns sprinting on dirt in start number two. 5-Big Drinker saw a 26-point Beyer speed figure improvement in second career start with the addition of Lasix and should be a handful if able to build off that last 3rd place effort. She wasn’t far behind repeat winner Stay in the Game. 7-Regulation Dazed goes turf to dirt and also makes first start at this reduced Maiden Claiming level after 4 unsuccessful tries against tougher.