Santa Anita Saturday Picks and Plays February 21, 2015
Santa Anita Saturday Picks and Plays February 21, 2015: This weekend, the Kentucky Derby trail of prep races leads to Gulfstream Park with the Fountain of Youth Stakes and to the Fair Grounds with the Risen Star Stakes. However, Santa Anita always offers very competitive races for the late Pick 4 for fan entertainment, so why not try to win some big money? This week, our house handicapper Kari Ward is back, good news in and of itself. Let’s try to pick some winners!
Race #6: 10,8,4,9,3
In a wide open race, I’m choosing five horses looking to improve. Always a Chance always seems to be in the mix, and the added blinkers could make the difference for him to win here. She likes the distance and is working very well for this race. Lady Asano has been facing tougher competition and has the best speed figures for the distance. If there is nothing wrong with this mare, she will be the one to beat, although the drop in class is suspicious. Tebowing is in good shape and has been knocking for a win lately. Now with Corey Nakatani in the saddle, she only needs a clean trip to have a chance to win. Love Blind finished fifth in a decent performance, seven lengths behind the winner after running four-wide into the stretch. That was her first race under the watch of trainer Robert Hess Jr., so a big improvement is now expected. The speedy Tribal Chatter has two second-place finishes at this distance, but if the pace is soft she can wire the field.
Race #7: 7
Sayes So is a lightly raced filly with a lot of talent. She impressed in her debut, winning wire–to-wire before finishing second to the nice filly Dancinthenightaway. With that as a background, Sayes So ran as the heavy favorite on January 25, 2015, but she was not the same, finishing third. In that race, jockey Alex Solis forced her to overcome the inside post position, damaging her chances. Now with a very comfortable post, she’s eligible to bounce back and win handily in this race. I’m using Sayes So as a single.
Race #8: 4,6
Betty’s Bambino is an expert on the 6½-furlong downhill turf, winning four of his past five races. I’ve been following this horse since he won in his debut, and I know he has all the potential to win in stakes company. In fact, he won the Daytona (G3) on December 28, 2014, over the downhill track. Betty’s Bambino has not raced in 55 days, but he has been recording very nice workouts and looks to be ready to roll. His main rival will be Ambitious Brew who participated in the Breeder’s Cup Turf Sprint (GI), finishing just three lengths behind winner Bobby’s Kitten. Now he’s dropping in class and looks fit for this race.
Race #9: 12,6,4,5
Gimme da Lute lost by just a nose in his debut, recording a very good 1:03.4 for 5 ½ furlongs. Now the race is over 6½ furlongs, a distance he should appreciate. Despite Vodka Texted You’s stumble at the start, he was able to chase the leaders and ran evenly in the stretch. With a clean break and race experience under his belt, he should be very tough this time. Howdy is the most experienced horse of the field, with his best race being his last one. If he reproduces that effort, he’ll be in the mix again with a great chance to win. Chutney is a first-time starter and son of Lucky Pulpit who recorded excellent workouts for this race. The Stevens–Proctor combo is also a sign of confidence.
Race #6: One mile on the turf : 1,8 *(3 if scratch)
I’m going with Nazareth for my top pick. Last time out she was tenth, her worst placing yet, after getting bumped at the start. She drops in class while receiving a jockey upgrade to Espinoza. Surprisingly, Valdez has not ridden her? I am puzzled there, as the Palma/Valdez combination has been a hot commodity at this meet. She gets blinkers and exits from post position 1, winning at 24% clip. Not the greatest stats of layoff for the barn, but I hope she gets some decent odds at post time. Lady Asano was claimed by the Ted West barn from John Sadler on January 15 after finishing third going a mile on the turf here with a tough group of gals. She has a suspicious drop in class here but should relish the class relief. I’ll opt for *Tribal Chatter if a scratch occurs because of her trainer upgrade to the Baltas Barn, Maldonado up, and nice works. Her seven-month layoff is the main concern.
Race #7: 6 1/2F dirt 7,5,2 *most likely single the #7 in a .50 pick 4
Richard Mandella has been pretty hot this meet, so I’ll go with #7 Sayes So for the top spot. Lightly raced with 3 tries, she won first asking at Del Mar going six furlongs on the polytrack and finished second December 27 going seven furlongs at Santa Anita, garnering a 92 speed figure. Last time out she was third at six furlongs behind Couragous Call whom she faces again here. She’ll need her early speed to help here, but I think she can turn the tables. So, that means Couragous Call in there as well. She has two wins here at Santa Anita: one at six furlongs and one at seven furlongs. She stalked and closed last time out, earning herself a 91 speed figure. These are some tough girls. Pica from the Peter Miller barn looks to be super tough with Espinoza staying in the irons. That’s another hot jockey-trainer combo lately. This will be her second run off a nine-month layoff. Miller claimed her from the Fair Grounds and ran her twice last spring at Santa Anita where she finished second and fourth. Last time at this distance she finished second after being edged by a head here at Santa Anita on January 18. She’s got some nice speed and could upset the applecart.
Race #8: 6 1/2F Downhill Turf 4,6,2
Betty’s Bambino looks uber tough. He comes in off a two-month layoff after a hat trick of three wins at 6-1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf. Last time out, he won the Grade 3 Daytona on December 28. He beat Conquest Two-Step September 27 over the downhill turf who later came back to smash the field recently on the dirt going six furlongs in 1:08.10. Yikes! He has won off a two-month layoff before. Watch out for him! Ambitious Brew comes in off his worst finish, a seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI), so there’s a big class relief here. He has some nice six furlong works and could blow this field away as he’s never been worse than first or second other than his recent loss. My main beef is that he is coming in off a 3-1/2 month layoff. I am also going with my boy Boozer for the Glatt barn. He’s cutting back in distance after coming in second to Alert Bay at 1-1/8 miles on the turf here on January 24. This barn has a 24% rating from route to sprint, and he retains Stevens as his jockey. In addition, he has a win at this distance from year ago over Royal FJ. I can dig it.
Race #9: 6 1/2F Maiden Claiming 12,4,8,6,5
This is a wide open race for me. Baffert is teaming up with Garcia with Gimme Da Lute who is running with blinkers off this time. In his first time out, he finished second at 5-1/2 furlongs behind Yiannis. He had good early speed and battled for the lead to lose by a nose. He should be quite tough to beat here, particularly because Baffert is 30% with blinkers off. Howdy comes in for the hot Eurton barn with seconditis in his last two races. He finished 7th three races back behind Bolo and Metaboss, and we have seen how those two have fared. Howdy could be saying “howdy doody” to the rest of the field, or “look at my behind!” Papa Clem’s kids have been good to me, so I’ll toss in The Grumbler who adds blinkers with Espinoza up from Marty Jones’ barn. Vodka Texted You is one of two Lucky Pulpit players (Chutney the #5 is the other). He hails from the Machowsky barn with Perez staying in the saddle. Vodka Texted You stumbled in his one and only race to finish in fourth behind Lucky Reality whom he faces again. Maybe he can turn the tables this time. Chutney is a first time starter with Stevens in the irons from the red-hot Proctor barn that recently sent out Diversy Harbor for that smashing win this past Monday.
Kari’s Plays: I’ll tweet out my plays on the day of the race. I’ll most likely play a .50 Pick 4 and a $1 pick 3, although I’m not sure yet of which races I’ll use. I’ll be waiting for the odds and scratches before I make my plays. Thank you, Sigi, for letting me add my picks and plays. May all horses run safely this weekend over each track.