Santa Anita (Sunday-4/2/23) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 4-Foothill (Race 4)

Race #1: Recent Maiden winner 4-Seismic Spirit (Ire) makes initial start around two turns for trainer Peter Miller and is bred to relish more real estate. His sire Balardo (Ire) (a G1 winner overseas) is 7 for 21 (33%) with turf route runners. 1-Please Focus stretches back out today after a strong wire-to-wire score going 5 ½ furlongs. The gelding’s speed from the rail makes him dangerous to repeat for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill. 7-Hacking It Up was badly outrun in most recent start but that effort came over the main track. Two-back on turf at this level he was a sharp winner from off the pace going this mile trip. An expected live race flow will likely work to his advantage in here. The same goes for 6-Paulliac (Ire) who rallied nicely for 2nd off the mini-freshening for the D’Amato barn as the short-priced betting choice. He goes 2nd time Lasix today.

Selections: 4-1-7

Race #2: 5-Divine Rascal adds blinkers off the claim coming off a good second against cheaper when moved back to dirt. The gelding projects to be forwardly placed today and makes 3rd start of his form cycle.  3-Wegonahavagoodtime weakened to finish 5th in initial start against winners when trying slightly classier runners on the grass 2 weeks ago. The 4-year-old gelding moves back to the main track today where he broke his Maiden in flashy style two-back. The 1 for 15 4-Brace for Impact prefers to finish underneath and the veteran 7-year-old gelding is a threat to do just that again this afternoon. He switches to Contreras who scored with barn’s 19/1 longshot Seattle Breakout on March 7.

Selections: 5-3-4


Race #3: 5-Johannes is 2 for 2 since switching to turf and comes off a strong off-the-pace win in the Baffle Stakes March 5. The colt should relish today’s stretch-out to a mile for conditioner Tim Yakteen and is likely to be closer to the pace. The lightly raced 2-Wizard of Westwood rallied for the place spot at 26/1 behind top pick in last when making initial grass start. He’s another colt bred to like two-turns. 3-Game Time has seen his Beyers improve with each subsequent turf start and now returns off a short 2-month break with plenty of steady a.m. drills. Hernandez climbs back aboard, and the colt’s versatile running style makes him dangerous in here.

Selections: 5-2-3

Race #4: Despite having only one subpar main track finish 4-Foothill looks like a potential standout in here returning to the optional $20k 1x level where he was a sharp winner two-back with a field’s best (85) grass Beyer. He’s reunited with winning rider who is a strong 4 for 12 (33%) with a $4.50 ROI riding for these connections this meet. 1-Star Prospect returns protected after impressive 12-length Maiden blowout score March 3. 3-Holiday Arousal did little running in disappointing 6th place finish March 19 off a 10-week freshening but could spring back to life on the stretch-out for shrewd connections.

Selections: 4-1-3

Race #5: 2-Admiral Halsey makes second start off the 9-month layoff and first against Maiden Claimers for trainer Peter Miller. The 4-year-old gelding has run above par for this reduced class level on multiple occasions and should be motoring home late with new pilot Hernandez. 3-Devil Moon has shown both speed and versatility as far as running styles go and comes off a good second behind repeat winner El Potente when last seen back in January. Moon is one of two runners in here for the Papaprodromou barn. 1-Greenbow returns off a two-month break and makes second start at this reduced level for Mandella. He goes 2nd time blinkers today and has worked reasonably well for return try.

Selections: 2-3-1

Race #6: 1-Talkative Gal has spent the last 3 starts under the lights at Los Al but is no stranger to afternoon racing and has good success sprinting at SA (7-2-2-0). This filly has good pressing speed; the rail draw and projects to get a favorable journey with jockey Giovanni Franco who has had good success riding for this barn. 4-Emily Smiles ships down from Golden Gate on a tear having won four straight over the synthetic for trainer Jonathan Wong. The 4-year-old filly has proven she can handle the main track and is a dangerous newcomer. 5-Bella Renella was a popular commodity at the claiming box before hitting the sidelines last April and she finished a good second in her return try on St. Patrick’s Day. She’s a multiple winner over the track and distance and obvious threat off that last (70) dirt Beyer figure.

Selections: 1-4-5

Race #7: 4-Exaulted steps up after having won two straight since switching to the grass and this 6-year-old has a good combination of pressing speed and finishing kick. That combo makes him dangerous in this spot and he’s our pick for the mild upset. 1-Earls Rock (Ire) nosed out Du Jour in the Grade 3 Thunder Road when last seen on February 4 and this 4 for 7 gritty gelding for trainer Phil D’Amato figures to be a handful again with another rail draw. 3-Du Jour has returned off his extended layoff with back-to-back close 2nd place finishes for Baffert and figures to be motoring home late once again with Dettori retaining the mount. The 5-year-old gelding has worked well since his last try when just missing in the Grade 1 Kilroe. A fast-opening quarter mile would enhance his chances.

Selections: 4-1-3

Race #8: 4-Mongolian Panther makes her third start off the layoff today for trainer Librado Barocio off a wide trip in most recent 5th place finish March 18. This mare is a 4-time winner and projects to get a favorable journey on or close to the lead this afternoon. 5-Ole Silver returns off a five-month freshening today for D’Amato and gets a significant weight break with 7lb apprentice aboard. She’s a multiple winner over the track and distance. 7-Charlotte Harbor just missed the place spot in most recent try at this level March 4 and makes the all-important 3rd start off the bench today.

Selections: 4-5-7

Race #9: The lightly raced 8-Marina’s Tina (Ire) can improve dramatically in second U.S. start for D’Amato. She’s bred to love two-turns and exits a “key” race from back in January where she finished a wide 5th. That event has since produced 5 next out winners. 5-Lucky for You goes two sprints to a route today for Baffert off a pair of sharp runner-up finishes back in January. This daughter of Uncle Mo is bred to relish the two-turns and Hernandez sticks. 7-Sareeha (Ire) has seven consecutive 2nd place finishes (with five of those being stateside) under the guidance of trainer Graham Motion. The 4-year-old filly now makes first start for the McCarthy barn. The filly’s good pressing running style makes her the obvious one to beat. However, there’s certainly some concern regarding her habitual runner-up finishes.

Selections: 8-5-7

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