Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 5-Shocking Grey (Race #3)
Race #1: 2-Albayaader (Ire) adds blinkers and makes second start for a tag since arriving stateside for trainer Jeff Mullins. The filly makes 2nd start off the mini freshening this afternoon and can improve off recent closing 3rd place effort. 3-Real Fire returns roughly a month later for the same $50k claiming purchase price she was taken for on December 31 but owns the field’s best last out grass Beyer while finishing second and exits the same race as top choice. 4-KP Harry Kitty ships in from Zia Park for new barn; has some grass pedigree; adds Lasix and makes first start for a claiming tag.
Race #2: 4-Pride of the Nile was extremely game in defeat when making first dirt start in the Starlet. She broke sluggishly; settled nicely along the rail and then ran on greenly through the stretch drive while drifting out; bumping rivals but continuing to engage the competition to the wire. She’s trained well since then locally. The undefeated 1-Faiza seeks third straight for Baffert after successfully stretching out to take the G1 Starlet in second career start. The filly continues to train well in a.m. drills. 2-Sweet Trouble has shown ability in both career starts for D’Amato and makes initial start around two turns this afternoon. The 3-year-old filly (By Into Mischief) cost a hefty $600k and sire is a strong 19% with dirt route runners.
Race #3: 5-Shocking Grey was a very impressive Maiden winner for Mullins in most recent start January 13. The filly quickly recovered after stumbling badly at the start; settled nicely behind the leaders; and then made an eye-catching 5-wide sweep to swallow up the frontrunners to win in hand. She’s wheeled back quickly today against winners and Hernandez sticks. 2-True Patriot has a win and 4 seconds on turf from 6 career starts for trainer Carla Gaines and stretches back out today off runner-up finish where she earned a field’s best (77) turf Beyer. 8-Sunshine Babe is 1 for 16 but has run some competitive figures sprinting on grass that bode well here, and she can land part or a share of the vertical exotics.
Race #4: 1-Cornelia Fort flashed decent early zip in Golden Gate synthetic debut try against better on December 10 and now drops in for a tag and adds Lasix in start number two. This barn has above average numbers with second time starters and Hernandez lands here while likely to be aggressive from the rail. Of the pair of Papaprodromou-trained fillies, 6-Sweet Hello comes in off back-to-back runner-up finishes and is a logical threat again against this suspect Maiden Claiming group. 8-Sue Generous has not been seen in over 4 months and shows up today for a first-time tag with the addition of Lasix.
Race #5: 2-Lucky for You came up just a neck short in turf debut January 2 for Baffert earning the field’s best last out grass Beyer (70). The 4-year-old filly by Uncle Mo should be a handful with any normal second-out improvement. 1-Denim in Gold makes the all-important 3rd career start today after a troubled trip 5th while exiting the same race as top choice. This gal was forced to steady behind traffic before launching a belated rally late in a much better than looks try. 5-Cuban Crisis (GB) has been knocking on the door at this level with close finishes for Glatt since arriving stateside January of last year.
Race #6: 3-Finneus was overmatched in last but drops down to a more realistic level today for trainer Peter Miller and today’s mile trip fits this colt well. 1-Royal Act just missed by a nose in most recent try while earning a career and field’s best last out main track (90) Beyer. The ultra-consistent 6-Street Ruckus has hit the board in 5 consecutive races earning above par for this class level on multiple occasions.
Race #7: 6-Spiritual Advisor improved in career start number two with the switch to grass and the addition of Lasix and blinkers but was Dq’d from 3rd to last for ducking in at the start and causing interference. Nonetheless, he ran on well despite early and midway traffic trouble issues when also running up on the heels of runners. Another chance today with hopefully clear sailing and less drama. 4-Moon Ice comes off a career best runner-up finish as the January 7 beaten favorite and is projected to move forward off that try making 2nd start off the bench. 2-Swiss Gold is by G1 winner Passion for Gold who is 3 for 19 (15%) with debuting prodigy. This barn is, however, 1 for 41 with first time starters the past 5 years.
Race #8: 1-Hopper has been sidelined for 7 months for Baffert but continues to work strongly for today’s return start and this colt has won 2 of 3 career efforts. He has the rail; good natural speed and removes the blinkers today. 6-Newgrange is 2 for 2 over the SA main track and has been freshened for D’Amato. 2-Tripoli is the most experienced runner in this field with 21 career starts but is winless since Grade 1 Pacific Classic victory back in 2021. Baffert’s “other” colt 9-Messier goes two sprints to a route and has run some strong races around two turns when on the 2022 Derby trail. A much-improved effort would come as no surprise today.
Race #9: 6-Kitty Kitana stretches back out today and has 8 for 8 ITM finishes for D’Amato. A logical threat again but certainly no slam dunk in the Saturday nightcap. 2-Myfavoritedaughter was a sharp winner at this trip two-back and has fired two strong back-to-back efforts since arriving in the Cerin barn off the October 30 claim. 1-Karakatsie moves all the way inside today and cuts back to a mile where she’s run some of her better grass tries including a 3rd at 24/1 in the G2 Goldikova three-back.