by Eddie Olczyk
June 5, 2020
On what is traditionally Belmont Stakes Saturday, we’re instead greeted with an 11-race card from Santa Anita headlined by the Grade 1 RUNHAPPY Santa Anita Derby. And while New York will have its day in two weeks, this Saturday is all about California.
With heavy hitters like Authentic, Improbable, Higher Power, Swiss Skydiver and highly touted first-time starter Cezanne among the entries, finding value – and betting it accordingly – is extremely important to coming out ahead on Saturday. You may have to alter your normal approach to make sure you are getting your money’s worth in horizontal and vertical bets.
But hey, we’re horesplayers and that’s what we do. I’ve handicapped the card and identified two horses I really like in early races. The early part of the card features the low-takeout Player’s Pick 5 (Races 1 – 5), the Early Pick 4 (Races 2 – 5), Rolling Pick 3’s and Doubles, as well as traditional single-race bets like the Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta.
Consider these horses in those races and let’s try to start the day by boosting the bankroll with a few nice tickets!
Race 3 (4:31PM ET) – Allowance Optional Claiming
#4 Kneedeepinsnow (5/2)
I think #4 KNEEDEEPINSNOW has a big tactical advantage over the field as he is the ‘speed of the speed’ and should be able to dictate the flow of the race on the front-end. He nearly won at this level last time out – beaten just a head at odds of 24/1 – and while he won’t be that long of a price on Saturday, I’m still hoping he offers a fair price. His last two conventional dirt track races were excellent and he’s a must-use horse for me and a potential single in the Early Pick 5.
Race 4 (5:01PM ET) – Desert Code Stakes
#1 Phantom Boss (6/1)
Let’s take a shot at a first-time turf horse, #1 PHANTOM BOSS, in the $75,000 Desert Code Stakes. He is a son of 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford and I love betting his sons and daughters on the grass. Plus the rail draw (as opposed to a very difficult outside post last time) and addition of blinkers simplifies things a bit for PHANTOM BOSS. I think he’s the quickest of these early and I’d like to see Tiago Pereira put him on the lead and try to take this bunch gate-to-wire. And since he has no prior turf form, we should get a fair price on him, hopefully 5/1 or higher.