by Jerry Shottenkirk
September 27, 2020
Graded stakes races make up half of the challenging Late Pick 4 on Santa Anita’s card for Sunday.
The sequence kicks off in the eighth race with the Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship and includes the Grade 3 Tokyo Cup as the third leg and 10th race on the program.
The Sprint Championship brings out a short, but talented field of five for the six furlongs, and the Tokyo Cup, which will be raced at 1.5 miles, lured a field of seven.
The suggested Pick 4 this week totals $67.50. Here’s a look at the races in the sequence:
Race 8 (7 p.m. ET, Santa Anita Sprint Championship)
COLLUSION ILLUSION was eased in the American Pharoah last year. Not to worry, he’s the rest of his races. The 3-year-old has won five of six and was up in the final inch or two for a memorable Bing Crosby. Can adjust to any pace.
Still clearly on my mind is FLAGSTAFF’s remarkable second-place finish to Whitmore in the G3 Count Fleet. He closed with a rush, going from 11th to second. He barely lost the G2 Pat O’Brien to C Z Rocket and turns back from seven to six furlongs.
C Z ROCKET has won four straight since being claimed for $40,000. He carved out a perfect trip and was up in time in the Pat O’Brien and seems to have forgotten how to lose. He can give it his all when asked and he’s been as game as they come as he’s perfect in his four starts for trainer Peter Miller.
Race 9 (7:30 p.m. ET, optional claiming)
SOFI’S GOLD made her first turf start and got her first win. She set the pace and drew off, and while she takes a step up here, she can be in the mix from the word ‘go.’
NONE OF YOUR BIZ gave way in the CTBA Stakes last out and moves her speed over to the turf. She has a good pedigree for grass sprints.
SHYLOCK EDDIE has a lot of experience and made a nice move to second at the end of his latest. Fits well with the Cal-bred crowd.
WIN OFTEN has done well with two wins and two seconds in four starts and stays on the turf after a runner-up finish. Can stay in range throughout.
CONCISE ADVICE was up in time in her only start, which was 13 months ago at Del Mar. Has plenty of works and can make an impact in her return.
Race 10 (8 p.m. ET, Tokyo City Cup Stakes-Gr.3)
CUPID’S CLAWS was an even third in each in his last two races and was claimed in his last three – most recently by Craig Dollase. Steps up into a graded event but has good enough form to consider.
COMBATANT has only four wins and $1 million in earnings, which means he’s chased some lucrative purses. His last win came in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap and anything close to that gets him back to the winner’s circle. Consistency is something he hasn’t achieved and he’s in trouble if he doesn’t bring his best.
AZUL COAST was outrun in his last two but without a great deal of speed in here he should very close to the lead, if not right there. The 1 1-2 miles will be the big test, as it will with the others.
Race 11 (8:30 p.m. ET, maidens)
WIND AND HOPE comes off her best effort, can stay in range early and slight improvement here will put her in the mix late in the game.
DISAPPEARING ACT ran an even fifth and would be more effective in races with a quicker pace that she followed last time. She’s without his blinkers today and that could make a difference.
BRISTOL BAYOU ran on well last out and checked in at fourth. She’s had plenty of chances but it looks
like she has a good chance to be more effective on the turf in the long run.
Race 8) #1 Collusion Illusion, #3 Flagstaff, #4 C Z Rocket.
Race 9) #1 Sofi’s Gold, #2 None of Your Biz, #3 Shylock Eddie, #6 Win Often, #7 Concise Advice.
Race 10) #1 Cupid’s Claws, #2 Combatant, #7 Azul Coast.
Race 11) #1 Wind and Hope, #2 Diasppearing Act, #10 Bristol Bayou.
Total Ticket Cost) 1,3,4/1,2,3,6-7/1-2-7/2-6-10 = $67.50 for $0.50