Santa Anita (Sunday-3/26/23) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 3-Butkus (Race 2)

Race #1: 5-San Anton (Ire) lost all chance in second stateside start when stumbling out of the gate from the rail draw. Two-back he was a solid closing 2nd earning a top turf Beyer of (73) when finishing in front of two next-out winners. He makes first start sprinting this afternoon and appears to have maintained his top form with sharp recent 5-furlong drill. 3-Acquired Class returns as a first time gelding off 10-month layoff after attracting decent support in May debut when finishing a disappointing sixth and last. This 3-year-old comes in with excellent works over at San Luis Rey and lures Hernandez. 7-Don Corleone is the stablemate of Acquired Class and is a $1.2 million purchase by More Than Ready. He goes dirt to turf today after pressing a swift pace in first start back in 5 months.

Selections: 5-3-7

Race #2: 3-Butkus looked good powering away from a N3L ($20-$18K) claiming group going 5 ½ furlongs just 2 weeks ago and makes 3rd start of the form cycle today for trainer Steve Knapp. A repeat appears well within reach and this barn had 3 wins on the Saturday card. The 7-year-old gelding 1-Strike That returns off a 11-month hiatus for a career low $16K claiming tag and finished 3rd in the G3 Kona Gold when last seen back in April 2022. He’s the class of this field; has speed from the rail but has obvious issues returning at this reduced level. The 7-year-old gelding is just too risky to back at a short price. 6-Handsome Gary is wheeled back on short rest after flattening out against better. The gelding won back-to-back races at 9/1 prior to that last subpar effort.

Selections: 3-1-6


Race #3: 3-Pammy’s Ready has good pressing speed and usually fires fresh for trainer Peter Miller. Her series of recent a.m. drills indicate she’s ready to run a big one off the bench. 2-Unbridled Mary rallied for the place spot off an 8-month layoff earning the field’s best last-out grass Beyer (83) and should be a handful with any normal second off the bench improvement. Her stablemate 1-Secrets Told has speed from the rail and comes off a troubled trip 7th in most recent effort February 20. The 5-year-old mare makes first start off the Sadler claim and is 2 for 2 going this 6-furlong trip.

Selections: 3-2-1

Race #4: 2-A Little Bit Crazy returns off the mini-freshening for trainer Jonathan Wong and this 0 for 9 Maiden filly has simply run against much better stock in all her career starts. Her recent drills have been on the slow side, however, and she’s tough to trust. Nonetheless, she gets top billing here in weak field stretching back out. 3-Sugar Sugar is 0 for 13 but comes off a decent runner-up finish at this reduced level when stretching out to a mile on March 5. One of these fillies must finish 3rd here and 5-Prestigious looks like the one. She’s hit the board in both mile tries in last pair of efforts.

Selections: 2-3-5

Race #5: This Maiden Special Weight turf route for 3-year-old & up fillies is a mad scramble. 4-Ashleys Sandcastle goes dirt to turf for D’Amato after back-to-back subpar main track efforts. The 4-year-old filly has some grass pedigree on her dam side; stretches out this afternoon and gets in light. 5-Shezmisbehaving rallied sharply for 3rd on February 12 in first start going two-turns and second time blinkers earning a career best Beyer. The 4-year-old filly makes second start off the bench today and can move forward off that effort. A beaten favorite in last pair 9-Love Our Family adds Lasix today with outside pressing speed.

Selections: 4-5-9

Race #6: 2-Cornelia Fort was a sharp looking Maiden winner when last seen back in January and now makes first start for new connections off the claim. She lands in a weak field for first start against winners and can repeat. 6-Hialeah Hottie returns to the main track where she won two straight prior to last unsuccessful turf attempt. This filly has good speed from the outside for Team O’Neill and may be tough to reel in. 3-The Reign Song was overmatched in most recent start and had a troubled trip two-back when finishing behind Hialeah Hottie as the beaten favorite. This filly fits well in this spot and should offer some value.

Selections: 2-6-3

Race #7: 1-Manhattan Jungle (Ire) has run well in both local starts in southern California including a recent win over the downhill course in the Sweet Life Stakes February 11. She moves inside this afternoon and Hernandez takes over for Dettori. Another ground saving favorable journey is likely. 2-Broadway Girls has shown speed and faded in last two efforts going a mile (turf and dirt) and now makes the cutback today for Team O’Neill. A recent 5-furlong drill on March 19 indicates she’s still on edge. 3-Ragtime Rose flew home from far back to grab the place spot behind Manhattan Jungle (Ire) in the after mentioned Sweet Life and would be the beneficiary of fast early pace.

Selections: 1-2-3

Race #8: The stakes winning 3-Professors’ Pride must overcome a lengthy 11-month layoff but draw inside with sharp speed and should fire fresh based on recent local works. She was 2 for 2 to start her career before tailing off badly in failed grass attempts and troubled trip in the Evening Jewel Stakes last April. 2-Krist’s Tiger makes 3rd start off the form cycle and 2nd start off the claim after a runner-up finish going 7 furlongs on February 20. 4-Ladywearsthering is an interesting newcomer from Canada who makes first start in the Sadler barn and first start over the main track. The $450,000 Keeneland purchase by Uncle Mo lures Hernandez to ride.

Selections: 3-2-4

Race #9: 6-Thirty Four Coupe disappointed as the favorite finishing fourth against a pair of the same runners when dropped back down to this level February 19. He adds blinkers today and makes 3rd start off the long layoff. 11-Belmont Bill opened a huge lead in first start around two turns before tiring late to finish 2nd. It was an encouraging much-improved effort, and the 5-year-old gelding makes his 3rd start off the bench this afternoon. 10-Upright can improve off troubled trip debut effort back in January. The 4-year-old gelding by Lemon Drop Kid should improve on the stretch-out.

Selections: 6-11-10

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