Tuesday is closing day at Santa Anita, marking the conclusion of a meet that started way back in late-December. The folks in the racing office have put together an interesting card headlined by the Grade 3 American. I’ll be offering multi-race exotic tickets at the end of the article, including a Pick Six since that sequence has a carryover that must be paid out. Do note, though, that this ticket is very budget-conscious. I usually don’t play $2 Pick Sixes, as I simply don’t have the budget, and I can’t give out a huge ticket that I’d never play.
Before I do that, though, I’ll go race-by-race and give my thoughts on each event.
RACE #1: From a betting standpoint, I could not hate this race more (optimistic start, huh?). There’s a standout on paper in the form of Algorhythmic, who’s won three in a row since being claimed by Michael Machowsky. Her best race dusts this group…but she breaks from the rail, which is a very treacherous spot in races contested on the hillside turf course.
With that said, it isn’t like the rest of the field came up all that strong. Only two of her opponents have a win at this route, and that pair features a horse stepping up out of the claiming ranks (Del Mar Ann) and one that hasn’t run since November (Easy Grader). As such, if you’re playing the Pick Five, I think Algorythmic is a “hold your nose” single. I just can’t find anyone who seems like an upset candidate.
RACE #2: Many contenders here exit the same May 21st race, one that fell apart late after some ridiculous early fractions were posted. That day’s runner up, Summer Mischief, is logical, and I’ll use her in my Pick Five, but I’ll take a shot elsewhere with my top pick.
Lady Ninja’s first two races have come down the hill, and they haven’t been bad. She didn’t break well in her debut, but rallied to finish a respectable fourth, and she followed that up with a second-place finish behind a horse named Painting Corners, who was a runaway winner that day and also coasted to victory a few days ago. Flavien Prat stays on, and we may get a bit of a price on Lady Ninja in this spot.
RACE #3: I thought this was the most challenging race of the day. It’s a maiden race for fillies going long on the turf, and most of these horses figure pretty similarly to one another.
Reluctantly, I’ll give my top pick to 12-1 shot California Breeze, who tries turf for the first time and is bred to love it (331 turf Tomlinson rating). Flavien Prat stays on for trainer Phil D’Amato, and I’m hoping she gets brave on the front end.
RACE #4: This is a fun starter handicap featuring some speedy horses going five furlongs. Forest Blue is a considerable favorite based off of some strong recent races, but he’ll face Percy’s Bluff, who reeled off eight straight wins before trying a distance that was probably too long for him. Those two could tower over the field on the odds board, and I think they do just that on paper as well.
RACE #5: I’ll focus on a few class-droppers in this claiming event, one that starts a Pick Six sequence that boasts a mandatory payout. Getoffmyback comes back to this level, one where he just missed to a next-out winner two back. I’ll use him, but he hasn’t won in a while, and his 9/5 morning line seems pretty short given that.
My top pick breaks to the likely favorite’s inside. Atomic Action was protected three back, won two back, and then ran up against a very strong field last out. The winner and third-place finisher from that race have both come back to win, and the waters are much more shallow here.
RACE #6: This is the Grade 3 American Stakes, and it features the return of Om, who just missed in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He’s run well fresh before, and there aren’t many heavy hitters signed on for his 2017 debut.
What could work against Om is the likely pace scenario. There’s plenty of speed signed on, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Flamboyant sat a picture-perfect trip. He hasn’t won in a while, but he may have been going a hair longer than his preferred trip for most of 2016, and he just missed at this level last time out at Golden Gate despite a wide trip.
RACE #7: The late Pick Four starts off with a real puzzler. This is a 2-year-old maiden race that’s drawn a full field of Cal-breds, and this is a spread race for me in that aforementioned sequence.
I like a pair of second-time starters most. Powerful Thirst may go off favored after an adventurous debut where he broke slowly and rallied to be fourth, while Oh Jerry took lots of money on debut and runs back fairly quickly. Still, this is a race where I think you need to buy lots of coverage if you can afford it.
RACE #8: This is a grass grab bag, and the field of 13 guarantees a tremendous betting race. I’ll use several in the late Pick Four, but I’ll be salivating if my top pick goes off close to his morning line price.
My Man Chuckles is 12-1 on the morning line, and I’m not entirely sure why. He won going down the hill two back, and ran an OK race last time out despite a post position that wasn’t ideal. Inside posts are undesirable at this route, but he was still beaten just a length and a half. The better draw in this spot should help him, as should the ample amount of early speed that appears to be lining up. I’ll gladly take double-digit odds if I can get them.
RACE #9: We’ve got an undefeated favorite in this race, and as much as I want to find holes in her resume, I can’t do that. G Q Covergirl is 3-for-3, and she came back running last time out off a long layoff. In that win, she rated a bit, which she hadn’t done in her two prior starts. There’s some speed to her outside, but Martin Garcia should have some options depending on how the race unfolds out of the gate. Improvement can be expected here, and if she steps up off her last race, she’ll be pretty tough to beat.
RACE #10: We end with a turf route that’s drawn a big field. Your guess is as good as mine with regard to who will be favored, and I like a few solid prices in here.
My top pick is I’m Living Proof, who’ll make his first start for new trainer Richard Baltas. Rafael Bejarano signs on, and he’s been gelded since his last outing, which should be a big plus. I also like 10-1 shot Insubordination, who’s flashed ample speed going down the hill. The outside draw isn’t great, but there doesn’t appear to be much early zip signed on, so he could lead them a long way.
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$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1
40 Bets, $20
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$2 Pick Six: Race #5
48 Bets, $96
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$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7
60 Bets, $30