As usual a late Pick 4 that commences in Race 7 caps off Saturday’s ten-race card at Santa Anita Park.
The four-race sequence begins with a starter allowance sprint, includes the featured Grade 2 San Luis Rey, and concludes in Race 10 with a bottom level conditional claimer over the main track.
Here are my thoughts on the four races that end Saturday’s card:
This starter allowance event for runners that have yet to win twice goes through 9-5-morning line favorite #4 Quick Finish.
The Harris Farms’ gelding has been a new horse since returning off a six-week freshening in January for trainer Dan Blacker. The son of Vronsky crushed a state-bred maiden group by seven lengths and then made a strong account of himself in his initial try versus winners running a solid second to eventual winner, Conqueror, last time out.
Quick Finish should be fast enough to make the early lead, but jockey Drayden Van Dyke may elect to stalk just off of the runner drawn to his immediate inside, #3 Caray. Either way he should have more than enough late to handle this field.
However, if Quick Finish regresses off of the two big efforts to start his 2018, #5 Treasure Hunter and #7 Bad Boy Leroy are the likeliest to spring the upset.
A $30,000 maiden claimer at six panels over the main track is up next.
#6 Venice appears to be a vulnerable favorite at 5-2 on odds maker Jon White’s morning line. The Twilight Racing filly comes off a career best runner-up finish over a wet/fast surface just three weeks ago for trainer Kristin Mulhall. If she can replicate that effort on Saturday she certainly fits, but she has failed over her 7 lifetime starts to put forth back-to-back strong performances. I will take my chances at her price that she takes a step backwards after the career best 79 BRIS speed rating on March 3rd.
I will try to beat Venice with several of her rivals and hope that one of the bigger priced runners can get to the wire first.
The featured event on the Saturday card is the aforementioned $400,000 Grade 2 San Luis Rey conducted at a mile and a half over the Santa Anita sod.
#2 Itsinthepost is the clear one to beat in his first start in seven weeks for trainer Jeff Mullins. The hard knocking six-year-old gelding won 3 of 9 and earned $573K last year and has picked up right where he left off in 2018 with two graded stakes wins over this course. The price is likely to be short on the French-bred, but he looks extremely tough to beat.
If Itsinthepost is to lose for the first time this year, I give #8 Colonist the best chance to beat the 6 to 5 morning line favorite. The Stonestreet Stables colt has won 3 of 10, including 1 of 4 over the green, but still is in search of his first stakes victory. He should relish the mile and a half distance and retains the services of jockey Flavian Prat.
I will not only use Colonist in the Pick 4, but at 8-1 or higher I will also place a win wager on the four-year-old colt.
The sequence concludes with a $12,500 claimer for horses that have never won two races.
I will side with those that should be on or near the lead in this five and a half furlong dash, including my top choice #2 Anita G. The daughter of Rocky Bar was claimed last August from the cagey Steve Miyadi and ran a third at this level before taking some time off. Miyadi brings the five-year-old mare back in a spot where jockey Saul Arias should find a comfortable spot near the front and have enough late to hold off his main rivals.
If Anita G. fails to fire fresh or gets “cooked” on the front end, I think #8 No Comparison makes some sense. The seven-year-old mare moves from turf to dirt, drops in class and attracts hot riding apprentice Franklin Ceballos. All can help him move forward in career start number eleven.
Ticket 1: ($1 Pick 4)
Race 7: 4
Race 8: 1+2+4+5+8+9
Race 9: 2+8
Race 10: 2+8
Ticket Cost: $24
Ticket 2: ($.50 Pick 4)
Race 7: 4+5+7
Race 8: 1+4+5+8+9
Race 9: 2+8
Race 10: 2+8
Ticket Cost: $30
Total Budget: $54