October 26, 2018
EAST-WEST CLASH ON TAP
by Megan Devine, Santa Anita Park
ANALYSIS:A talented group of young ladies, including several with recent double-digit scores on resumes, meet here. Last year’s edition featured an early speed duel between Moonshine Memories (Prat/Callaghan) and Alluring Star (Talamo/Baffert), that catapulted longshot Caledonia Road (Smith/Nicks) into the winner’s circle. This year, those seeking value just might enjoy a similar sequel. More than half of this field has performed best on the lead, including the classy BELLAFINA (Prat/Callaghan). That may turn this into a rider’s race or a case of survival of the fittest filly.
MAIN CONTENDERS: BELLAFINA is the most expensive purchase in the field ($800,000) and boasts impressive hardware, including three consecutive graded stakes victories. She appears the filly to beat. She’s gotten better with added distance, relaxing with or without blinkers. It’s unlikely she’ll be alone on the lead in here, though. In her last two starts, SERENGETI EMPRESS has won by a combined 33 lengths and JAYWALK, though untested at this distance, led to an impressive win in the Grade 1 Frizette. Aptly named RESTLESS RIDER appears the most aggressive filly in the group, but has excelled under the patient (and strong) hands of jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. She’s overcome a bushelful of trouble and relaxed enough to stretch out and win. She also has a perfect record at Churchill Downs.
VALUE PLAYS: SIPPICAN HARBOR scored on the lead by 17 lengths to break her maiden, but matured sufficiently to sit off the pace to win the Grade 1 Spinaway.
WAGERING STRATEGY ($100):