by Jerry Shottenkirk
May 30, 2020
The Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes is the spotlight race on the Sunday card at Santa Anita, and it’s the magic key to the late Pick 4.
While 2020 hasn’t been kick to a lot of the world, Ce Ce has never been better. The Michael McCarthy-trained daughter of Elusive Quality comes in after a trip to Oaklawn and a win in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Stakes. She got her first Grade 1 win on March 14 at Santa Anita when she drew off to a convincing score in the Beholder Mile.
Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza has been aboard in all six of her starts, and when you have a good horse, he’s been a pretty good choice as pilot.
Hard Not to Love is the biggest threat, as she’s won five of seven starts. She had a chance to beat Ce Ce in the Beholder and did not. It was Hard Not to Love’s first try around two turns and could make it a little more interesting. She has a Hall of Famer in her own right, as Mike Smith gets the return engagement.
The 1 1-16th-mile Santa Maria has just five entrants, and while Hard Not to Love ran a noble second the last time she faced Ce Ce, and that looks like her spot again.
Ce Ce is a single on this $30 suggested Pick 4 ticket.
The Santa Maria is set for a 6:30 p.m. ET post and is the third leg of the sequence.
Race 5 (5:30 p.m. ET, maiden claiming)
The opener of the Pick 4 is the spread race of the play, with My Super Mario, Kingofjesters, Hot Socks, Scary Fast Smile and Agamemmon on the ticket.
Hot Socks and My Super Mario are probably the best of the horses that have started, while several are making their first career start. It’s likely a good spot for a first timer, and Kingofjesters, Scary Fast Smile and Agamemmom are on the docket for their debut.
Race 6 (6 p.m. ET, maidens)
Rakassah will be the favorite in this maiden race, but Fabiolla and Sandal are a pair to notice as well.
Rakassah has made two starts in the U.S. after three in Great Britain, and her appearances here produced a pair of seconds, each this year. She’s likely get have a significant amount of the win pool aimed at her.
Fabiolla also came from Great Britain but hasn’t fired in her two Santa Anita attempts. She showed signs of life in her second start as she closed mildly. She could be braced to make a strong late run in this spot, and continued improved would put her right in the mix.
Sandal has trained well for her debut and would not be a surprise at first asking.
Race 8 (7 p.m., ET, claiming)
Four fillies and mares are the hopes for a payoff in the eighth, including Seaside Dancer, Miss Flawless, Sugary and Tonahutu.
Seaside Dancer takes a slight step up in class after a narrow sprint loss last time and can be a serious player as she stretches out to the grassy mile.
Miss Flawless faltered last time in a race that came off the two and was second at this level two races back. Sugary threw a dud last time after winning two straight and can get back to good form here. Tonahutu drops out of a stakes race and had been racing against a much higher level. She could wake up in this spot.
Here’s the suggested late Pick 4 at Santa Anita Sunday:
Race 5) #1 My Super Mario, #3 Kingofjesters, #6 Hot Socks, #8 Scary Fast Smile, #9 Agamemmon.
Race 6) #3 Fabiolla, #5 Sandal, #9 Rakassah.
Race 7) #2 Ce Ce.
Race 8) #1 Seaside Dancer, #5 Miss Flawless, #7 Sugary, #8 Tonahutu.
Total Ticket Cost) 1,3,6,8,9/3,5,9/2/1,5,7,8 = $30 for $0.50