by Johnny D
September 25, 2020
Smoke has cleared, literally, and racing at The Great Race Place returns this weekend with gusto. The 11-race Saturday card features 7 stakes races--4 graded and 5 that carry ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup fees-paid berths to respective championship races at Keeneland Nov. 6 & 7.
Saturday afternoon’s gem figures to be the Grade 1 Awesome Again (10th race) which features a heavyweight battle between 2 of trainer Bob Baffert’s best: Maximum Security and Improbable. The Gr. 1 American Pharoah (8th race), for 2-year-olds, features another Baffert runner in Spielberg as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite on Jon White’s morning line. The Gr. 2 Chandelier (3rd race) is topped by…you guessed it, another Baffert runner in the electric Princess Noor at 2/5 odds. The Gr. 1 Rodeo Drive (7th race) for fillies and mares on turf features a pair of Richard Baltas runners Lady Prancealot and Bodhicitta listed as 2-1 and 5-2 top choices, respectively. The Gr. 2 John Henry Turf Championship (9th Race) is topped by 6/5 favorite United from the Richard Mandella stable. The 5-year-old gelding finished third in this race last year and then missed by a mere head to Bricks and Mortar in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Horseplayers have usual wagering options as well as a new $1 Pick 4 that combines racing in Arcadia with heats in Northern California at Golden Gate Fields. First leg of the new wager is Santa Anita’s 10th race, followed by the 9th at Golden Gate, the 11th at ‘Anita and the 10th by the Bay. The popular $5 Double, that combines Santa Anita’s final race with the last race at Golden Gate, also returns with the new season.
In addition to Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Superfecta and Super Hi 5 wagering, rolling Doubles and never-ending Pick 3s, Santa Anita kicks off the card with an Early Pick 5 on the first quintet of races. That’s closely followed by the Early Pick 4 on races 2 through 5. The $.20 Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot begins with race 6. The popular $.50 Late Pick 5 begins one race later.
Below is one man’s opinion of the Santa Anita’s Saturday Late Pick 4. The wager seems approachable, so we’ll offer analysis, rankings and a suggested wagering strategy to, hopefully, help horseplayers to a great finale to this action-packed afternoon.
Race 8 (7:12PM ET) // G1 American Pharoah S. // 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
The winner of this race will be the top West Coast representative in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile next month at Keeneland. Bob Baffert has 3-1 morning-line favorite #5 Spielberg and the colt ought to appreciate trying two turns for the first time.
1. Touchdown Brown is a talented Cal-bred stepping up to face open company for the first time. He’s also stretching out to two turns for the first time. His last race, a losing effort to Good With People in the I’m Smokin at Del Mar, was extremely fast. For that reason, he must be respected. Blinkers added last out will come off for this. Contender – B
4. Notable Exception visits from Arlington Park where he won a 7-furlong maiden race over a synthetic surface. He won that race as ‘much the best,’ according to Equibase comments. How he will react to a dirt surface is the main question. In general, evaluating competition is difficult with lightly raced 2-year-olds, so there’s no real clue there. Don’t think this Street Sense colt will be able to set or force the early pace as easily as he did in his Arlington debut. They go faster earlier in California. He’s a bit of an unknown. Reach – C
5. Spielberg makes his third start for trainer Bob Baffert and both prior starts were solid but losing efforts—both to the talented and now resting Dr. Schivel. Baffert is quoted as saying that this son of Union Rags should be better going a distance of ground and we’ll believe him. Spielberg’s got speed and can be expected to use it. It is unusual for Baffert to have a top 2-year-old lose his first 2 races, but this guy ran into a good one in Dr. Schivel. One to Beat – A
6. Get Her Number starts for the always dangerous Peter Miller outfit. He also has the services of top jock Flavien Prat. Miller and Prat combined to win 26% based on 339 races, according to Thoro-Graph statistics. This son of Dialed In made his first 2 starts on turf—a maiden win at 5 furlongs and a close 4th in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf at one mile. Respect – B
7. Weston won his first two starts for low-profile trainer Ryan Hanson before finishing a well-beaten third in the Del Mar Futurity. He needs to make up nearly a 4-length losing margin to Spielberg from that race and that prospect seems daunting as Baffert’s runner is most likely to improve off his Futurity effort. Probably Not – C
8. Waspirant seems a bit of a sleeper in here. He adds blinkers for trainer John Shirreffs (a 17% winning move) off a one-mile maiden win. Before that he was beaten more than 13 lengths in a maiden race that included Dr. Schivel and Spielberg. The outside post isn’t a bonus for him, but he should handle the distance and is the only starter in the field with two-turn dirt experience. Sleeper B
Race 9 (7:43PM ET) // G2 John Henry Turf Championship // 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
#3 United seems to hold most of the cards in this mile and one-quarter turf event. He likes the course, has faced top competition and, most importantly, seems to hold a significant pace advantage. His speed figures don’t tower over these, but he’s most likely to have the cleanest trip.
2. Originaire doesn’t win often (3-for-19) but is consistently in the money (13-for-19). Another nibble seems most likely. A late-running style causes this colt problems—either ground loss or traffic issues and he can’t afford to make a mistake in here. However, he has finished within the shadow of favored United on a few occasions—most recently last out in the Gr. 2 Del Mar Handicap. Those efforts give him hope. Respect B
3. United is the most consistent of this group. He owns 6 wins in 15 starts—3 of those at Santa Anita and 2 of those on this course at this distance. He finished third in this race last year and then nearly upset the Breeders’ Cup Turf field at 51-1 odds over this course at a mile and one-half. He’s trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella and ridden by SoCal’s reigning top jock Flavien Prat. Perhaps more important than any of that is the expectation that United ought to have a pace advantage over his most dangerous challengers. He may or may not have the early lead in here, but he won’t be far back and that ought to enable him to save precious ground. One to Beat A
5. Salvator Mundi was claimed for $40k in October at Keeneland and has improved quite a bit for trainer Phil D’Amato. He’s a clever 4-year-old that will need to move forward a bit more to win this one. He’s sharp—won a $40k optional claimer last out at Del Mar—and is 1-for-1 at Santa Anita. Unlike others in this field, he doesn’t get too far back in the early going. Turf master jockey Umberto Rispoli is up and he’s been aboard for all three of this colt’s best efforts. Price Play B
7. Next Shares is a 7-year-old that has run races with speed figures that fit in here and he’s posted them mainly against Gr. 1 competition going one mile. He’s 0-for-2 at today’s distance. Unfortunately for him, his win record at Santa Anita is dismal at 1-for-9. An in-the-money finish seems more likely, as he’s 7-for-9 in that department at ‘Anita. He has no early speed and probably will be forced to lose precious ground. Reach C
Race 10 (8:14PM ET) // G1 Awesome Again S. // 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt)
Trainer Bob Baffert has the top 2 runners in here and we’d be surprised if one of them didn’t win this race. Improbable always has been a talented horse. Remember, he was favored in both last year’s Kentucky Derby (4-1) and Preakness Stakes (5-2). Amazingly, he won just 1 race in 2019—the Shared Belief at Del Mar—so we forgot all about him. This year, he’s returned with a vengeance…and a bit of luck. Maximum Security has been outstanding since his first start for a maiden $16k claiming tag at Gulfstream Dec. 20 ’18. He’s had the most interesting career of any horse in recent memory and he’s not finished yet. A Breeders’ Cup Classic victory would add another amazing chapter to this colt’s improbable story that in addition to a maiden claiming first-out tally includes the first-ever on-track disqualification of a Kentucky Derby winner, victory in the World’s Richest Race in Saudi Arabia and a former trainer currently under federal indictment. Wow!
2. Improbable returned to the races this year in the Oaklawn Mile and ran his heart out to be a close second to the streaking Tom’s d’Etat. Shipping back to Santa Anita, Improbable romped in the Gr. 1 Gold Cup, to extend his record over the Arcadia strip to 2-for-3. In the Gr. 1 Whitney at Saratoga, Improbable took advantage of a horrible start by favored Tom’s d’Etat to come home 2 lengths clear of next out winner By My Standards. Improbable has run races that are as fast as Maximum Security’s best and he may enjoy a fabulous stalking tip in here. He can’t be ignored. Respect A
5. Maximum Security is all racehorse. If you don’t like him, you don’t like racing. He gave everything he had in winning the Gr. 1 Saudi Cup over a determined Midnight Bisou. Following a trainer change from Jason Servis to Bob Baffert, he’s returned to win the Gr. 2 San Diego and the Gr. 1 Pacific Classic and is on course to enter the Breeders’ Cup Classic at the top of his game…and that’s a very good game. He’s got speed, never quits and has failed to cross the finish first in just 1…count it…just 1 of 12 lifetime starts, mostly against Gr. 1 competition. He’s an absolute star. Enjoy him while you can. One to Beat A
Race 11 (8:45PM ET) // Maiden Special Weight // 1 Mile (Turf)
The Pick 4 concludes with an absolute grab-bag event including 10 Cal-bred or Cal-sired 2-year-old maidens going one mile on the turf. #2 Ingest is the 9/5 morning-line favorite after blowing a stretch lead to the talented Big Fish. Fair enough, he deserves another shot. But Ingest also lost ground in the stretch of his previous race, too. He’s newly gelded and that could help. However, those looking to juice this Pick 4 will point to a plethora of unknown factors in this race (first time routers and turfers) and suggest a bomb is lurking. Use as many of these as you can afford.
1. Teton Valley has speed and turf route experience. He was a well-beaten fourth last out—over 4 lengths behind favored Ingest. The rail will encourage him to show his early speed. Toss In B
2. Ingest is favored at 9/5 on the morning line and that makes sense. He finished third last out going a mile on Del Mar turf and since has been gelded. He’s posted improved Beyer Speed figures in each race and that’s a good sign. What’s not as positive a marker is that he’s lost ground in the stretch of both tries at one mile on turf. He’s got speed, so he should be in a good position turning for home. Who might run him down this time? Use for Sure A
3. Stars of Bluegrass has the most experience in this field with 5 outs. He’s been pretty consistent in those starts with three runner-up efforts. He has made 2 starts for a state-bred $50k tag. This will be his first try going longer than five and one-half furlongs. Can Be Used C
4. Alexander’s Dream took serious money first out with Prat in the saddle but disappointed with a third-place finish. Next out he had a very rough start, so that than be discounted. There’s limited data on sire Gervinho, so it’s ‘roll the dice’ time with this one. Toss ‘Dem Bones B
5. J C Express is another in here with plenty of question marks. He’s made one start and was off a bit slow. Sire Jeranimo has little data to parse. Trainer Peter Eurton is 10% with 2nd Time Out Maiden 2-year-olds. Lots of Unknowns C
6. Investment Account has made 4 starts and needs to move a bit to be competitive in here. He has tried one mile on turf and was a well-beaten sixth. Blinkers go on for this. No worries about distance or turf with sire Acclimation. Reach C
7. Blue Star hails from the Doug O’Neill barn along with favorite #2 Ingest. He’s making a second start and first at a distance on turf. O’Neill is 12% with 2nd out maiden 2-year-olds, according to Thoro-Grpah stats. Reach C
8. Warren’s Candy Man makes a second start for trainer Craig Lewis and there are some stats to suggest this one might run well. He was eighth beaten 10 lengths without a rally going a mile on turf first out, but Lewis is 24% out of 37 2nd out maiden 2yo starters, according to Thoro-Graph stats. Sire Clubhouse Ride has been outstanding with 2-year-olds cashing at 20% out of 101 starts and batting 17% with turf runners. One drawback is most of that success has come at less than a mile. Use B
9. Detective Bernardo seems least likely to win in here. He was eased first time out and then managed a well-beaten third going five and one-half furlongs. His sire is unproven on turf and at a distance. Don’t Need This One X
10. Theluteismine is trained by Peter Miller. That’s enough for us to include him in a big way. Miller is 17% with first out 2-year-olds (MSW), according to Thoro-Graph. Sire Boisterous is 13% on turf and 6% with first-time turf. He’s 8% winners first out overall. This is a difficult post to win from, especially for a first-time out 2-year-old on turf. However, we’d hate to lose the Pick 4 to a winning trainer like Miller. Use B
Suggested $.50 Pick 4 Ticket
All Runners $108: Adjust to Suit Your Bankroll and Remember:
You can lose your money.
You can lose your clothes.
But don’t ever lose that sparkling personality!
B-#1, #6, #8
A- #2, #5
B-#1, #4, #8, #10
C-#3, #5, #6, #7