Santa Anita (Sunday-5/21/23) By Dean Keppler


Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 6-Last Call London (Race 5)

Race #1: 1-North East Star (Ire) makes her second career start and first effort stateside for trainer Phil D’Amato off a fifth place finish at Dundalk back in December of last year. This filly is by Galileo Gold (GB) (a multiple Grade 1 winner overseas) and this barn has a long history of success with these imports. 2-Irish Rose makes the all-important third career start today coming off a troubled trip and wide 7th place finish in most recent effort on April 7. Her grass debut try was solid and she can rebound in this spot for trainer Neil Drysdale. 4-Kissed by Fire hasn’t been out in nearly 8 months and when last seen was outrun when ambitiously placed in the Grade 1 Del Mar Dubutante. Today, this filly makes her grass debut–with some turf pedigree on the dam side– and has trained well for red hot barn.

Selections: 1-2-4

Race #2: 4-Mongolian Ford is the likely pacesetter in here and goes second off the claim for trainer Steve Knapp. This barn has above average numbers with this angle when routing on dirt, and this 5-year-old gelding is a multiple winner over the track and distance. His stablemate 5-Settecento comes off a solid second at this level in most recent try on April 23 earning the field’s best last out main track Beyer (73). He’s an obvious fit right back. 2-Chickasaw goes turf to dirt on the class drop and was a Maiden winner going this mile trip over the main track two-back.

Selections: 4-5-2


Race #3: 1-Manitowish has been the gem of consistency having hit the board in 12 straight races beginning back in May of last year. The 5-year-old gelding draws the rail today; has good positional speed and was a close third in the most recent start to next-out winner Lovesick Blues. East coast invader 2-Cyberviking returns as a first-time gelding for new barn making his second start off the layoff today. This new gelding is an impressive 6 for 14 lifetime and has trained extremely well in the a.m. for D’Amato. 4-Baladi comes off a career best Beyer (92) with recent 7 furlong win and has proven he can string together a pair of top efforts.

Selections: 1-2-4

Race #4: 3-Leyas Candy had some traffic issues in lone turf try back in March after some solid efforts over the main track. She’s worked well for today’s return off the mini-freshening and regular pilot Hernandez is back aboard. 1-Johnny Podres took a well-deserved break back in October of last year after having won 3 of his last 4 starts before hitting the sidelines for conditioner Steve Miyadi. This 6-year-old gelding has run well off similar breaks and this barn has solid stats with its layoff runners. 4-Irish Heatwave returns for a $40k claiming tag off a nine month layoff for trainer Mike Puype. This veteran gelding has done his best running when routing, however, so perhaps today’s 6 1/2 furlong sprint is just a prep for future efforts going longer this summer.

Selections: 3-1-4

Race #5: 6-Last Call London finished an even 3rd in debut exiting the same April 30 Maiden event as Thirsty Gambler and Mic’s Express, but is the most likely to improve even further this afternoon for trainer Peter Miller. This top barn is 5 for 8 (63%) with a $4.80 ROI the past year at Santa Anita with second career starters sprinting on dirt. Team O’Neill sends out 2-Refocus who is by freshman Grade 1 winning sire Pavel off some decent a.m. drills. This barn is fully capable of winning with a debut runner. It’s not the largest sample but trainer Keith Craigmyle has a pair of winners from 8 starts with second time starters and 4-Thirsty Gambler adds blinkers today off a non-threatening 4th place finish. The juvenile colt by Stay Thirsty can move forward in this spot along with top choice.

Selections: 6-2-4

Race #6: There are four runners that exit the April 9 John Shear Stakes that meet again here with the slight advantage going to recent winner 3-Mas Rapido (GB) who returns to the downhill course this afternoon after a sharp allowance optional claiming win May 6. This gelding projects to get a favorable stalking trip just off the pacesetters and mow them down late in deep stretch. 4-Conclude was a beaten favorite in last but can improve in this spot for D’Amato making his second start over the tricky course. He earned an eye catching (96) grass Beyer in impressive Maiden score two-back and has plenty of upside making only his fourth career start. 2-First Peace defeated several of these in the after mentioned John Shear when returning off a 3-month freshening and making his first start over the downhill course. He’s done extremely well since climbing into the stakes ranks and is another who projects to get another complimentary journey based on his versatile running style.

Selections: 3-4-2

Race #7: 1-Hapi Hapi returns to Santa Anita after several starts over at Turf Paradise where he won 5 straight prior to last 3rd place grass finish on April 10. This gelding’s main track Beyer figs are superior to most in this field, and he figures to trip out well from the rail. 4-Papale hasn’t shown much since February claim but gets some serious class relief this afternoon for trainer Kristen Mulhall and has good early zip. The other Jeff Metz-trained gelding is 6-Speeding Style who ships in from Rillito off back-to-back wins and will likely try and come from off the pace today. He’s hard to gauge where he fits class-wise against these, however.

Selections: 1-4-6

Race #8: D’Amato import 1-With Love (GB) returns off a long layoff while adding Lasix and attracting top Italian rider Antonio Fresu who is off to a quick start stateside. This filly will likely take back and make one run late off what’s projected to be a swift pace. The speedy 2-Stressed was an impressive gate-to-wire winner off an 8-month layoff defeating a next-out winner and is an obvious threat right back. If this race stays intact, she could face more pace pressure today and be somewhat vulnerable. The other D’Amato filly is lightly raced 9-Dazzlingdominika who hasn’t started since August of last year and only has one prior disappointing turf try in debut. She adds Lasix today; has trained well for her return effort and will likely show more competitiveness trying grass again.

Selections: 1-2-9

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