Log In

Johnny D: Free Picks - Whitney, Test + More | Saturday, August 7

by Johnny D

August 5, 2021

The Grade 1, $1 million Whitney at Saratoga is the headliner this weekend and one of 10 Fun in the Sun competition races Saturday. Knicks Go, a $4.8 million-dollar multiple Gr. 1 stakes winner and hero in 5 of his last 7 appearances, is a slight 6/5 morning line favorite over Maxfield at 8/5, a Gr. 1 winner of 7 of 8 lifetime starts. Maxfield has yet to prove himself against grade 1 foes since he won the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland at 2, but he’s fresh off a pair of Gr. 2 triumphs at Churchill Downs in the Alysheba and Foster. Plus, at 4, he’s had less time than Knicks Go to pad his resume.

It’s not as if the skinny field of 5 needed more spice, but that comes in the form of 4-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver, winner of the 2020 Preakness over Authentic by a neck. She’s won 7 of 14 starts and over $2 million dollars. Kind of forced to appear in this spot because the barn of trainer Ken McPeek had been quarantined due to a potential herpes outbreak, she was restricted from running earlier in the meet against her own sex. She’s not proven against older males, but she wasn’t proven against sophomores of the opposite sex either when she finished second in the Blue Grass before later winning the Preakness.

The Whitney, as the tenth race, is among a trio of grade 1 events: the Gr. 1, $500k Test for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs goes as the eighth; the Gr. 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational for 3-year-olds at one mile and three-sixteenths on grass is the ninth; an allowance $80k optional claimer at one mile and one-eighth is the eleventh and the nightcap is a first level allowance race for fillies and mares at five and one-half furlongs on turf.

While the remaining 5 Fun in the Sun competition races—the first 5 at Del Mar—don’t boast any graded stakes, they present horseplayers with an assortment of handicapping challenges. Check it out: the first race is a five and one-half furlong, optional $40k claiming first-level allowance sprint for maiden 3-year-olds and upward. The second race is a maiden turf tussle at one mile and one sixteenth for fillies and mares. The third is a five and one half furlong sprint for $16k non-winners of 2 claimers and the fourth is a 2-year-old maiden sprint that includes 2 Bob Baffert first-time starters—one by Curlin that brought $400k at Keeneland September and the other by Gun Runner that sold for $850k at Ocala in April, as well as a Richard Mandella-trained runner that cost $300k at the Fasig Tipton Keeneland Select Sale. The sequence concludes with 3-year-olds and upward in a $50k starter allowance at one mile and one sixteenth on turf.

Sound like a plan? You know you’ll be watching and wagering on this action. Why not play Xpressbet’s Fun in the Sun tournament. There’s a $25 registration fee and you’re asked to make a live $10 Win wager on one horse in all 10 competition races. Top 3 players win cash prizes, as well as seats to the $10,000-added Final Table to the top 5 players. Plus, since wagers are live, you keep what you win! A few nice winners and you’re ‘up’ for the afternoon.

Below is one man’s opinion on Saturday’s Fun in the Sun competition wagers. Analysis done before scratches and changes and is for ‘fast’ and ‘firm’ conditions.


#1 ILLUMINATION (12/1) is a $900k Fasig Tipton August yearling purchase that has just 1 win in 5 starts. That’s not half the story. She finished second in her first out maiden race at less than even money and then was third, fourth and third in stakes races: Gr 1 Del Mar Debutante, Gr. 2 Chandelier and Anoakia Stakes. In June she absolutely romped in a maiden race at Santa Anita and now could be ready to prove she’s as good as connections originally thought she was. But that’s not half the story. This filly will be the first runner trained by Bob Baffert to race in New York after the tracks had banned him and then had that edict overturned in court. Baffert won’t be in New York, so it won’t be a three-ring circus but, still, all eyes will be on what’s happening beneath the big top. This filly has speed and brings two bullets to the dance: a best-of-92 four furlong move in :47 and a best-of-11 six furlongs in 1:12 1/5, both at Del Mar.

#2 SOUPER SENSATIONAL (6/1) is sharp, as she dusted off five foes in the Gr. 3 Victory Ride last out over a ‘good’ Belmont surface for trainer Mark Casse, who’s 0-7 at the meeting. That win was fast enough to fit in here, but her previous 4 outings aren’t quite good enough. She is 2 for 3 at the distance but those wins came over a synthetic Woodbine surface.

#3 ZAAJEL (8/1) popped with a huge race to win the Gr. 2 Mother Goose at Belmont in late June at 18-1 for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Joel Rosario. The Beyer Speed Figure for that race is light years ahead of what she’d earned in previous outings, so there’s some question if she can repeat that strong effort. She is unbeaten at seven furlongs and has ‘route speed’ so she should be close enough early.

#4 OBLIGATORY (4/1) is a Gr. 2 winner that closed well enough to just miss in the one mile, Gr. 1 Acorn last out. She requires early pace help for her best and she could get some of that in here. She got plenty of pace in the Gr. 2 Eight Belles going this distance at Churchill and roared home to win. Jose Ortiz rides again.

#5 ALWAYS CARINA (3/1) is fast and has early speed. She’s only raced 3 times for trainer Chad Brown, with 2 wins and a runner-up effort to #3 Zaajel in the Gr. 2 Mother Goose last out. She’s got a sparkling :59 3/5 breeze for this. Jockey Flavien Pratt returns in the saddle.

#6 MAKE MISCHIEF (12/1) is the only filly in the field with experience over the Saratoga surface. She has 3 seconds in as many tries. She’s also the most experienced in the race with 4 wins in 12 starts and been in the money in 9 of those 12 outings. She usually is around at the end but has been on the short end of the stick against quite a few of these. Still, she’s got a win and a third at the distance to go along with her other positives.

#7 SEARCH RESULTS (5/2) won the Gr. 1 Acorn last out over #4 Obligatory and #6 Make Mischief. She’s won 4 of 5 races from 6 furlongs to one-mile and one-eighth. She’s fast and has enough early speed to be in striking distance. Jockey Irad Ortiz has been aboard for two triumphs and a neck defeat. Difficult to knock her resume.

#8 BELLA SOFIA (6/1) has 2 wins and a second in 3 starts. She romped in a maiden race first out, just missed in the Jersey Girl and then romped in an allowance race—all at 6 furlongs. She’s been brought along slowly by trainer Rudy Rodriguez and this is a big step up. She’s got dangerous early speed and a nice 1:00 breeze over the Spa surface—third best of 32. Top jock Luis Saez is aboard. Expect that #1 Illumination will keep this filly busy on the front end early and that could set things up for a closer.

BEST: #7


#1 SOLDIER RISING (12/1) has had 4 starts in France with 2 wins and 2 seconds against allowance and stakes foes. This is his first graded stakes try and he has solid connections—trainer Clement and jockey Irad Ortiz. Still, he’s not as accomplished as others.

#2 DU JOUR (8/1) was moved to the barn of trainer Bill Mott after winning the Gr. 2 American Turf while with Baffert. He didn’t fire much in the Gr. 1 Belmont Derby last out behind #6 Bolshoi Ballet. Need to see a bit more from this one while tackling tough imports on the east coast.

#3 PALAZZI (20/1) was sixth in the Belmont Derby at 16-1 and would need to turn the 2 for 11 ship around in here.

#4 CADILLAC (4/1) is an Irish-bred with 3 wins in 6 tries, including a couple of Group and Grade 1 races. He was a Group 2 winner at 2 in Ireland and ran evenly to be fourth in the BC Juvenile Turf. He won his only start at 3, a Group 3 at one mile and one-quarter in Ireland. He seems a cut below the best in here but not without a longshot chance if he’s developed at 3, which is difficult to tell off just one race.

#5 YES THIS TIME (15/1) is a win machine. He’s finished first 5 times in a row, including in a pair of stakes races the last two times out. It’s tough to go against a 6 for 8 winner but this group is much better than anything he’s previously faced. He’s been favored in 4 of his 5 consecutive triumphs. He won’t be favored in here.

#6 BOLSHOI BALLET (2/1) is an Irish-bred making his second US start. His first produced a solid triumph in the Gr. 1 Belmont Derby over a ‘good’ mile and one-quarter surface. Before that he was favoried in the Group 1 Epsom Derby but failed to fire over a ‘good to soft’ course. Always well-regarded, this Aidan O’Brien runner with 4 wins in 7 starts is clearly the one to beat in here.

#7 SECRET PROTECTOR (6/1) hails from the sharp Charlie Appleby outfit. If you don’t know Appleby, you’d better learn about him. He’s a top trainer around the world and that includes in the US. He knows which horses fit here and he’s won Breeders’ Cup races and Gr. 1 turf tests in the states. This colt’s form is not as good as #6 Bolshoi Ballet’s but one must always keep an eye on anything trained by Appleby.

#8 CELLIST (12/1) was run down late by #6 Bolshoi Ballet in the Belmont Derby last out. His game will be to attempt to take the field wire-to-wire as he did in the Audubon at Churchill going one mile and one-eighth. That afternoon he held off #3 Palazzi late to win. The good news for Cellist is that there’s not much speed in here. The bad news is that there is some. Expect #2 Du Jour to use his early foot from the 2-hole in an attempt to duplicate his wire-to-wire theft of a one mile allowance race at Santa Anita. This guy is honest, and Gr. 1 placed, so an in-the-money finish is likely again.

#9 STATE OF REST (10/1) was Group 2 placed at 2 in Great Britain and just missed in his only start at 3 in Ireland. He stretches out in distance and makes his first US start for Joseph O’Brien, son of trainer Aidan O’Brien. He’d need to improve to upset this bunch.

#10 FLASHIEST (20/1) scored in the restricted Oceanside by a head last out and, although honest with 3 wins in 4 starts, this is a cross-country ship and a huge step up.

#11 KING FURY (10/1) has made his bones on ‘fast’ and ‘wet’ dirt. He’s a Gr. 3 winner in the slop and just missed last out in the Gr. 3 Ohio Derby behind Masqueparade and Gr. 1 Jim Dandy runner-up Keepmeinmind. He usually comes from well off the pace in dirt races and may find the early running of this extended turf test less stressing. He’s proven on dirt but a big question mark on turf against some of these. Trainer Ken McPeek has been known to upset an applecart or two over the years with unconventional moves. Jose Ortiz in the irons helps the cause.

BEST: #6 Bolshoi Ballet

SARATOGA // RACE 10 (5:48PM ET) // G1 WHITNEY S. // 1 1/8 MILES (DIRT)

#1 BY MY STANDARDS (10/1) was at his best last year when he reeled off 3 consecutive wins, including the Gr. 2 New Orleans Classic and the Gr. 2 Oaklawn Handicap. He was second in the Gr. 2 Stephen Foster and Gr. 1 Whitney before winning the Gr. 2 Alysheba. Recently, he’s been back on the beam with a win in the Oaklawn Mile and a second in the Gr. 1 Met Mile to #2 Silver State. Is the $2.2 million-dollar earner ready to resume a winning streak? He likes the track- 1 second in 1 start- and he likes the distance- 3 wins 2 seconds out of 6 tries, but some of the younger bucks will give him a tussle.

#2 SILVER STATE (4/1) has won his last 6 races, including the Gr. 1 Met Mile last out. That’s quite a string of successes. He probably won’t be believed again in here as he’s listed at 4-1 morning line odds to get the job done for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana. The paper says he’s never beaten the kind of foes he’ll meet in here. Fortunately for his connections, Silver State doesn’t read. He just wins, baby.

#3 SWISS SKYDIVER (6/1) has been off since April. Some of that vacation was planned some of it was forced (see opening paragraphs). She’s one tough cookie with 7 wins in 14 starts, including the 2020 Preakness Stakes when she outdueled Authentic to the wire. She’s 1 for 1 at the Spa and has a pair of seconds in two tries at the distance. These will be a challenge for her, but she’s always been as honest as they come.

#4 KNICKS GO (6/5) absolutely romped against Gr. 3 foes in a tune up Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows. Before that he finished behind #2 Silver State and #1 By My Standards in the Gr. 1 Met Mile as favorite. That was his first out since February and he could have needed the race. There’s not a lot of speed in here and that’s to Knicks Go’s advantage. He’s a front runner that prefers to be alone on a clear lead. Perhaps, only #3 Swiss Skydiver can push Knicks Go early and she’s not really a ‘speedy’ challenger. His race to lose and it should be noted that he was off the board in his only Spa start.

#5 MAXFIELD (8/5) has the resume to be considered a top horse. He won a Gr. 1 at 2 and appeared to be headed toward Kentucky Derby prep races as one of the favorites before being sidelined with an injury. He won the first 5 races of his career, was third, while wide in the Santa Anita Handicap and then won his next 2 starts convincingly to bring his record to 7 wins in 8 starts. At 4, he may just be hitting his peak for trainer Brendan Walsh. If that’s the case, he may be good enough to collar Knicks Go over the tiring Spa surface.

BEST: #5


#2 SUPERFECTO (7/2) fired a decent shot last out at this level. He races close to the early pace and jockey John Velazquez will let him go from the rail to maintain that position.

#3 RISK TAKING (6/1)  drops out of 3 graded stakes for this allowance appearance and will take plenty of money. He’s getting Lasix for the first time and will be expected to bounce back to the form that saw him win the Gr. 3 Withers for trainer Chad Brown. A maiden win before that are the only two solid efforts on his resume, so which is it? The graded stakes winning Risk Taking or the also ran version? Not worth taking at a short price.

#1 DANNY CALIFORNIA (5/2) loves Saratoga. He’s won 3 of 4 starts there and 4 of 9, overall, at the distance. Claimed for $40k three back, he was third in the mud last out at this level. He’s zero for his last six but four of those were over ‘off’ tracks and one was on turf so…there’s that. At 6-years-old he’s eligible to have lost a step for two and he did win in the Saratoga mud once.

#4 CANDY TYCOON (12/1) comes off a front-pressing score at Monmouth Park for trainer Todd Pletcher. He overcame some trouble to win that one and has just 2 wins in 12 starts. Earlier in his career he was considered talented and finished second in the Gr. 2 Fountain of Youth and was well-beaten in the Gr. 1 Florida Derby, both starts at huge odds.

#5 EMPTY TOMB (7/2)  goes for red-hot trainer Mike Maker. The 5-year-old horse was overmatched in a stakes race last out but won an allowance race at this level at Churchill the time before. He’s in for the $80k tag here. His recent form is OK except for the stakes debacle.

#6 AIR ATTACK (8/1) is a $75k stakes winner two back after being claimed for just $25k and $20k before that. He’s won 5 of 19 starts, been off since April and been tried at much longer distances, although he is 1 for 3 at this journey.

#1A MUSICAL HEART (5/2) has speed and is pretty consistent. The 6-year-old gelding has a win and a second at Saratoga and a win from 5 starts at the distance. He’s the one they’ll need to collar to win this. Trainer Rob Atras has been outstanding at the meet with 5 wins with 17 starters. After 6 consecutive stakes races, this will be the gelding’s first for a tag since November ’20 when claimed for $62,500.

#7 LOST IN ROME (8/1) has to be respected off a close runner-up finish at this level last out in the mud at Belmont going one mile. He’s had a trio of tries at this level and his last was his most successful. He was claimed for $25k in November of last year.

#8 CHESTERTOWN (8/1) is a first-time gelding for Steve Asmussen who has a win in 2 Spa starts. He hasn’t raced since May and is a New York state-bred stakes winner. He also has a pair of wins in 5 starts at the distance. He would need to fire with the best race of his career off the layoff to win this.

NEXT: #2, #5 


#1 MADAM MACLEAN (20/1) hasn’t been fast enough and starts for the first time for new trainer Patrick Reynolds.

#2 OFF WE GO (8/1) (Main Track Only)

#3 SUSSEX GARDEN (4/1) is an Irish-bred with one previous US start. She’s cutting back from one mile for trainer Arnaud Delacour. She was Group 3 placed in Ireland and ran pretty well in the Wild Applause, her first US start. She fits well. Blinkers go on for this and jockey Castellano does well with this trainer. Live one.

#4 HARPERS IN CHARGE (3/1) (Main Track Only)

#5 TRAIN TO ARTEMUS (15/1) has speed and trainer Wes Ward and jockey Jose Ortiz combine at 26% overall. This one adds Lasix and Ward is 21% first Lasix. She’s been gone since November and has a lone win in the Churchill slop.

#6 RISKY MISCHIEF (7/2) has won 2 of 4 turf sprints—one at Saratoga and at this distance. She is ridden by Irad Ortiz, who is 2 for 2 with her. She’s been gone since November, has stakes experience and has been best against fellow New York bred runners.

#7 TIME LIMIT (9/2) is sharp and goes for red-hot trainer Mike Maker and top jock Luis Saez—27% combo at the Spa. She won her last race on July 23 at the Spa against New York breds going five and one-half furlongs on turf by more than 2 lengths. This move to open company might not be too much more for her to handle. Note: Irad Ortiz moves from her to #6 Risky Mischief.

#8 BAY JEWEL (10/1) was claimed for $30k four back and immediately won a $50k turf starter and was second at this level in slop for trainer Pat Reynolds. She closed late but was fifth at this level here July 16, so she’s fit.

#9 SPICY MARG (8/1) is the new face. She’s been racing at Churchill Downs, has speed and figures to tire late. She’s the second of two Wes Ward runners.

#10 BAY STORM (6/1) has been off since October, adds Lasix and deserves a look off just two starts—a rallying third first out in a maiden turf sprint and a strong victory at Belmont in a turf sprint. Trainer Jonathan Thomas has been strong (23%) and this 3-year-old filly has lots of room for improvement. She’s got a handy just off the pace running style, too. 

#11 MINER'S QUEEN (6/1) has speed and was second here on July 16 for trainer Steve Asmussen. She figures to add to the early pace from the outside and probably has just one way to go. Pending scratches, there’s other speed in here so things could get too quick up front for this one to hang around for the win.

#12 BACK CHANNEL (12/1) went wire to wire to win a maiden race last out at Belmont. She won’t have that luxury in here.

#13 SEMBLE JUSTE (8/1) (Main Track Only)

#14 EASY TO BLESS (5/1) (Main Track Only)

BEST: #10
NEXT: #6, #7


#1 I GOT NO MUNNY fired a solid shot at this level here July 16 and must be respected off that effort. He cuts back in distance and draws the rail against other speed horses which probably won’t help his chances.

#2 NOTRE DAME has a nice 3-race win streak February through May to climb the class ladder. Last out he was fourth to #3 Fratelli as even money favorite at Los Alamitos at this level. Seems a deeper group today.

#3 FRATELLI is a win-type with 6 scores out of 14 tries and 3 wins in his last 4 starts. Trainer Peter Miller is having his usually strong Del Mar meet. This guy adds to the early heat in here and comes off a wire-to-wire score at Los Alamitos at this level, so he starts for the $40k tag.

#4 SAVILE ROW is one of two runners trained by Bob Baffert coming off layoffs in here. This colt won his first start as favorite and now adds Lasix coming off a :59 2/5 seaside gate move. The son of Quality Road could be any kind at this point.

#5 BUTKUS won the second star of his career at Los Alamitos in fine style at over 8-1. These appear tougher.

#6 LAUREL RIVER is the ‘other’ Baffert in here and he’s fresh a layoff since May when he was run down in the Gr. 3 Laz Barrera at Santa Anita. Lasix goes back on today and that may or may not help. He certainly will add to the early pace.

#7 FEAST would need to run faster than he ever has to win this.

BEST: #4
NEXT: #6, #3


#1 CLIFFSOFTHUNDER makes a first US start for trainer Richard Baltas and her only previous outing was a well-beaten fourth going one mile in Ireland. Probably not.

#2 FLORAL ESSENCE has performed respectably in all three of her starts. She raced evenly to be third in her last start July 16 here. She added Lasix that afternoon and deserves much attention off that effort right behind #4 Queen Goddess. Count her in.

#3 RUBY'S ORCHID needs to turn around an eased performance June 18.

#4 QUEEN GODDESS adds Lasix and figures a huge threat off a fast-closing finish July 16 going one mile. She was 25-1 that afternoon and won’t be anywhere near that number today. She and #2 Floral Essence have the race’s best credentials.

#5 LA GIOIOSA set the pace going one mile and one-eighth at Santa Anita in June. She faded badly late. She did have some group experience in France, so something might be there. Bit of a sleeper, perhaps, but she’ll really need to turn it around.

#6 CEDAR'S STARS adds blinkers and races with Lasix for her first US start. She was not racing at the top levels in Great Britain, but this isn’t the Breeders’ Cup either. Trainer McCarthy and jockey McCarthy (no relation) combine to see if this filly has more than she’s shown.

#7 WHISTLER'S STYLE adds blinkers and returns to turf. She’s 0-6, so far and needs to do better.

#8 SOMMER DAISY adds Lasix for her first US race. She was second in two starts in Great Britain against fields of 13 and 9 runners. Jockey Rispoli moves here from #5 La Gioiosa, both for trainer Paddy Gallagher. That suggests there may be something here. Pay attention.

#9 PEACHTREE ROAD has been off since January, adds blinker and trainer Mandella gets a 5-pound weight break with apprentice Jess Pyfer. She tries turf for the first time after fair dirt tries. Guessing connections want to see how this one handles turf before they give up on her.

BEST: #2, #4


#1 HAWK HILL invades from NoCal and has had chances at this level. Even running style helps. Rail draw does not.

#2 VEGAS MOON moves down south off series of Los Alamitos tries. These are tougher.

#3 SUANCES SECRET did not perform well at Del Mar off a series of Los Alamitos races. Pass.

#4 CALDER VALE is 1-34 and doesn’t appear to have another win on the near horizon.

#5 CARPE DONUM romped first out for maiden $30k and drops here for trainer Peter Miller. Right spot, one to beat.

#6 TWIRLING DERBY was second at this level last out going six and one-half furlongs here July 17. That was a good effort off a win for maiden $20k. That’s the lone win in 17 tries but in this field he fits.

#7 SIGALERT tumbles in class off a string of poor races. Blinkers go on and the weakness of this field compared to his previous efforts is noted.

#8 MUSICAL GEM takes a class drop off a poor return race here in July going five and one-half furlongs. He’d need to turn the ship around though.

#9 SUMMER FIRE has been off since May, is 1 for 13 overall and tumbles off the claim for $25k. This Cal-bred has some OK races in his running lines and the drop off the layoff is a move to win a race at Del Mar and is not that rare a maneuver. He’s a reach, but not impossible.

#10 MAGIC TIGER has 3 career starts—one at Golden Gate and two at Pleasanton and they’re not awful. Nice post and a rejuvenated Kent Desormeaux in the irons for trainer Thomas Jamey. Not impossible from a sweet outside box.

BEST: #5
NEXT BEST: #6, #9, #10


#1 MONTEBELLO starts for Bob Baffert and draws the dreaded rail post position. Tough spot to begin a career for the $400k yearling purchase. Son of Curlin will need his best and works say he can run.

#2 DERECHO DANDY starts for slow-starting John Sadler (3 for 29 this meet) and jockey Umberto Rispoli. A 59 2/5 gate work at Del Mar suggests this one has some run.

#3 KATONAH starts for Keith Desormeaux and the trainer is not known for cranking them up first time out.

#4 RECAPTURE FREEDOM is a $27k Ontario-bred that will need to outrun his works to win this.

#5 FORBIDDEN KINGDOM is a $300k yearling purchase out of the Richard Mandella barn. The Hall of Fame trainer is not known for cranking them up first time out, but he wins at a strong 19% in the category. This son of American Pharoah appears plenty fit of a pair of five furlong works followed by a six panel 1:14 3/5 lung-filler.

#6 OVIATT CLASS is a second-time starter for Keith Desormeaux and is ridden by Kent Desormeaux. First out, this one beat three home going one mile on turf. That probably was a leg-stretcher and the son of Bernardini ought to be fitter for it. Thinking of him as a bottom of exotics player.

#7 FLYING DRUMMER completes an inside-outside Baffert blitz on this field. The son of Gun Runner was purchased for $850k at Ocal in April. That means he must move like a machine. He’s got a solid series of works, including gate drills galore. This cozy outside post is a bonus. He’s probably the one to beat.

BEST: #7
NEXT: #1, #5


#1 CAPO MAFIOSO stretches out for slow-starting trainer Richard Baltas (3 for 39). The gelding broke maiden for $50k sprinting on turf at Santa Anita in February and has raced just once since.

#2 CANE CREEK ROAD moves to the barn of Bob Hess for this and has done most his work in the east at Churchill, Keeneland and Fair Grounds. He’s shown speed and been close (4 of 9 in the money). This is a Ship and Win bonus money run.

#3 UNCLE JEFF won first out Maiden $50k going six and one-half furlongs on turf at Santa Anita and then was fourth going one mile on dirt. No reason to think this guy’s anything but a live player in here under Kent Desormeaux for pal Vlado Cerin.

#4 GENERAL MATHIS hasn’t been out since October when racing first time for trainer Kristin Mulhall. She’s one our favorite conditioners so we’ll suppose she’s done some work with this guy. Still, she’d really need to turn him around to win this.

#5 ZIPPY BABY adds blinkers following a claim for $50k by Tim MCanna. This is another invader from the east in search of Ship and Win bonus money. This one has some solid form, so if the transition goes well, he could have something to say about this from off the pace.

#6 MIDNIGHT JOSTAR was claimed out of a $30k non winners of 2 two races back and is another heading west from Churchill. He races from well off the pace and will need lots of help up front to set up his closing, probably wide charge.

#7 OX BRIDGE has good turf races and his form was darkened by a poor race last out on dirt at Del Mar. He stumbled badly at the start, so that one can be forgiven. If that’s the case, he fits rather well in here on the front end and probably will be the one to catch. He has lost ground in the lane in previous starts but, if jockey Cedillo is able to nurse him along, the other riders might just let him go, figuring he’ll stop. Must be respected.

#8 GOOD BYE PUTIN adds blinkers for trainer Carla Gaines in an attempt to get him to level out in the lane. He’s worn them before three races back and they didn’t make that much of a difference.

BEST: #7
NEXT: #2, #3

Race On!