Santa Anita (Sunday-3/12/23) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 5-Butkus (Race #4)

Race #1: The Sunday opener is a tricky Maiden Special Weight for 3-year-old colts and geldings and perhaps a spot to try a price play. 4-Precision Strike goes two sprints to a sprint for Team O’Neill and makes the all-important 3rd career start. This jockey/trainer combo are 4 for 16 (25%) with overall turf route runners. Improvement is likely. 1-Phosphorescence (Fr) removes the blinkers today and stretches out after flashing speed and tiring in both starts over this grass course. The 3-year-old colt moves all the way to the rail this afternoon and owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer. First time gelding 2-Maltese Falcon (Ire) is slowly on the improve since arriving stateside for conditioner Leonard Powell but has been hampered by sluggish beginnings.

Selections: 4-1-2

Race #2: 1-Nobe drops back down from a $50k to $30,000 claiming tag today while making initial start around two turns. This filly comes in with an improving Beyer pattern; draws the rail and goes 2nd time blinkers today for trainer Mike Puype. 3-Prestigious was an improved 2nd when stretched out to today’s mile trip. 6-Gila hasn’t shown much to date but goes turf to dirt; stretches out; and takes key class drop into Maiden Claimers for the first time for new barn.

Selections: 1-3-6


Race #3: 2-Teen Drama cuts back to a sprint making 2nd start off the bench today for successful low-profile barn and had some decent success sprinting on grass at Monmouth before heading west. The speedy 6-Angelcents is 4 for 10 at this 5-furlong sprint distance and is a wire-to-wire threat against this group. 1-Ready Jet Go was a disappointing 8th off the mini-freshening in most recent start but ran some solid efforts sprinting on turf at DMR and SA last year. Improvement is likely.

Selections: 2-6-1

Race #4: 5-Butkus ran a better than looks 5th on February 18 after breaking sluggishly from the rail. He trailed early, but then made a long-sustained run while 7 or 8-wide in the stretch. He makes 2nd start off the 4-month freshening this afternoon for Knapp and red-hot Pereira is back aboard. 4-Shut Up Michael (Ire) makes first main track start for trainer Jonathan Wong and is by Galileo Gold (GB) who was a multiple G1 winner on grass overseas. Nonetheless, his main track drills have been solid, and he adds blinkers today while presumably facing better at Golden Gate in last two starts.  2-Sawasdee was a good 2nd at this level surrendering the lead late off the Brian Koriner claim earning Beyer par (76) for this class level. A threat right back.

Selections: 5-4-2

Race #5: 6-Standing O was a winner of two straight before heading to the sidelines last June and now makes his first start back off the 9-month break for D’Amato. This gelding has trained extremely well for today’s return and this lucrative jockey/trainer combo are 8 for 20 (40%) with a $3.10 ROI with turf runners returning off >180 days. 5-Yeng Again flashed good speed in the Clocker’s Corner stakes before tiring late and now makes 2nd start off the bench for the Papaprodromou barn. The 6-year-old gelding was a strong winner over this course last October. 1-One Hill Stocking is the lone filly in this field but drops out of the G3 Megahertz where she was overmatched. She drops back into a more appropriate spot while returning to the downhill course where she was a sharp winner two-back.

Selections: 6-5-1

Race #6: 5-Big Bell is a tad light on Beyers but was a game runner-up finisher against similar last month and now goes first off the claim for trainer Reed Saldana. This barn has had decent success with new acquisitions sprinting on dirt. The tepid choice with Hernandez maintaining the mount. 4-Silent Beauty was a good second at this level when last seen back in January finishing ahead of next-out winner Never Sway while earning above par for this class division. 3-Spoiled Rotten returned off more than a 2-year hiatus to take recent game Maiden score for O’Neill and figures to be a threat right back if he doesn’t regress off that sharp performance.

Selections: 5-4-3

Race #7: The Grade 3 Santa Ana is a competitive grass marathon but we’re sticking with the same three runners that exit the January 21 Astra Stakes. 3-Australia Mia was a beaten favorite third off a long layoff in first U.S. start. This 5-year-old mare was a multiple stakes winner in Chile before arriving here in the states and is likely to move forward off that last encouraging effort. McCarthy and Dettori have teamed up for a couple wins this current meet. 5-Duvet Day (Ire) rallied past her stablemate Australia Mia for the 13/1 upset. This filly is a proven stayer in turf marathons and is likely to be motoring home late once again.  2-Queen Of the Temple has racked up 9 of 11 ITM finishes for trainer Dan Blacker and comes off a sharp second in the after mentioned Astra Stakes. Hernandez sticks here but she’s finished behind Duvet Day (Ire) twice now.

Selections: 3-5-2

Race #8: 2-Good Vibes Only returns off a 3-month freshening for Sadler with some solid a.m. drills in tow. This gelding is a perfect 3 for 3 over the Santa Anita main track and figures to sit a favorable pressing trip behind likely pacesetter Took Charge. 1-I Got No Munny was no threat to top two when dropped to this level in last but makes his 3rd start of the form cycle this afternoon and perhaps makes another move forward today for Glatt. Munny’s stablemate 5-Clampett hasn’t been out in 10 months but has worked well for today’s return to the races and is likely to fire off the bench. The colt broke his Maiden sprinting over this track.

Selections: 2-1-5

Race #9: The veteran 8-year-old gelding 8-Chaos Theory is a 5-furlong turf specialist (8 for 16) and steps off two straight wins. Second off the claim 11-My Summer Dream is reunited with Hernandez who was aboard for three straight wins prior to last disappointing 5th place finish at Golden Gate over the synthetic footing. 7-See Through It has won six straight over various surfaces, sprint distances, and different venues. The gelding blasted home from far back to take the El Dorado Shooter Stakes at Golden Gate at 9/1 in last effort February 18 and he’s no stranger to this turf course.

Selections: 8-11-7

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