I’ll be at Santa Anita Monday afternoon for their special Martin Luther King Day program. In addition to it being “Dollar Day” with cheap food and drinks (though I’ll pass on the $2 hot dogs in favor of a sandwich from one of the carving stations), it’s an interesting card, and I think there are many opportunities to make some money. I’ve got a pair of Pick Four tickets, and I’ll dive into both sequences next!
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #2
48 Bets, $24
Right off the bat, I think there’s a way to take a stand against a horse that may be a heavy favorite. If we can get that horse beat, that will drastically improve our potential payoff.
#4 TRAPPER PEAK just missed at this level in his debut, where he rallied furiously to fall short by a neck. I know I’m supposed to like him here, but I’ve got my doubts. That race was in October, and he only has three published workouts since then. To me, that’s a substantial red flag. Additionally, this owner/trainer has another one in the race. If Trapper Peak was sitting on “go,” why is #5 THE ITALIAN (more on him later) in the field, too?
I’m two-deep without using the chalk. If he beats me, he beats me, but I prefer The Italian, who chased the ultra-promising Ax Man in his debut and is wheeled right back against lesser company. I’m also using #6 RISKY PROPOSITION, a first-time starter trained by Peter Miller. The Del Mar works aren’t great, but note the one recent drill away from there. It was a five-furlong bullet at San Luis Rey, and that leads me to believe he simply doesn’t like the track he’s been working at.
If we get out of the first leg, we’ll be four-deep in the third race, a maiden event for Cal-breds. #4 FAVERSHAM is California Chrome’s younger brother, and my guess is he’ll go off favored. I’m using him, but I need others on the ticket as well. #1 BORN ON THE BAYOU has some strong works ahead of his debut, #7 YES I’M READY has flashed ample early speed in his first two starts, and #8 VIOLENT RIDGE has also run well twice ahead of his 3-year-old debut.
The fourth is a tricky $25,000 claiming event for older sprinters. I’m using #7 ZAP AGAIN and #8 MISTER MOJO, who both hit the board last time out in a starter allowance at Los Alamitos. However, my top pick is #6 REVEREND AL, who drops down in class and should get an ideal setup. There’s a ton of early speed signed on, and this one has shown an ability to sit off the pace in the past. Rafael Bejarano signs on, and I’ll gladly take 6-1 odds if I can get them.
The fifth is the first of two downhill turf sprints on the card. I hate betting horses that haven’t tried this route, but that’s the situation I’m forced into, as none of the eight runners in this field have done this before. #2 MOVE OVER ran some OK races in Europe and gets Lasix in his American debut, while #8 COLONEL CASH gets Flavien Prat and had a rough trip when fourth in his first start on grass last time out. I’ll use those two in the payoff leg and hope that’s enough to get me paid.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6
72 Bets, $36
I thought this was the type of sequence that could have payoff potential even without huge prices. If we can get a few middle-priced horses home, this could pay a surprising amount.
The sixth is a maiden claimer for 3-year-old sprinters. #4 GEM OF A GUY may be favored on the class drop, but he didn’t do much running in his debut, so I can’t trust him much. My top pick is actually #2 IMAGINEIAMFASTEST, who gets an aggressive gate rider and is bred to have some ability. He’s 6-1, and if he runs to the gate work on December 8th, I think he’s got a big shot. I’ll also throw in #8 JIMMYTHISNJIMTHAT, who also has some swift works on the tab ahead of his debut.
The seventh is the Grade 3 Megahertz. My top pick is #3 MADAME STRIPES, who gets Kent Desormeaux back in the saddle and has every right to turn the tables on #4 INSTA ERMA, who nosed her back in October. Those two grade out best in here, but I have two others on my ticket I’m using for a few reasons. #5 THUNDERING SKY and #8 CHOCOLATE COATED are both not without chances in here, and if I go 3-for-4 without having them on the ticket, it’ll be a long ride home from Arcadia. I’ve got room in the budget to add them on my ticket, so while I’ll key Madame Stripes in other wagers, I’ll buy some coverage here.
The eighth is an optional claiming event that’s drawn a stakes-quality field. #2 DONWORTH was exceptional last time out in his second start since being claimed by Peter Miller. A repeat effort probably wins, but I can’t just draw lines through the previous batch of races that were total stinkers. I’m also using #1 HOT SEAN, who may be ready to run in his third start off a long layoff, and #4 COLONIST, who comes back to dirt and runs against non-graded stakes company for the first time since May.
We’ll finish off the card with a sprint down the hill. I almost singled #11 SUNDAY PROPHET, who draws favorably and exits a live race against males (that day’s runner-up, Mesut, was a nice-looking winner down the hill earlier in the meet). Sunday Prophet is also a half-sister to a horse named Watch This Cat, who has run several strong races at this unique route. However, I also opted to use #6 RED SHELBY, whose debut came at this route and wasn’t bad. I’m tossing the race two back given the long layoff after that effort, and her return race going longer at Del Mar was sharp.