Santa Anita opening-day plays for May 15

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 15th, 2020

Santa Anita resumes racing Friday, with an enticing, nine-race program. An average 10.4 horses are entered per race, and I will recommend three horses of interest.

Race 3

#3 Galilean has the speed and experience to dominate this race on the front end with jockey Flavien Prat. The 4-year-old colt overcame a slow start to post a fine third against a salty entry-level allowance field most recently, after a 10 1/2-month layoff, and he has run well off a brief freshening in the past. The John Sadler trainee won’t offer value for straight wagers, but I will single Galilean the in the Pick 5 and any other multi-race bets.

Race 5

#1 Heathers Grey has posted her best races on Santa Anita’s turf, including a decisive victory following a similar freshening last fall, and I’m willing to excuse her last two efforts. The 4-year-old filly will look to dictate terms from her innermost post, and I like her chances gate-to-wire with jockey Aaron Gryder.

Heathers Grey got caught chasing a wicked pace last time out, and the 1-mile specialist led the field into the stretch of the 1 1/2-mile Astra (G3) before she faltered late two starts back. With a moderate pace expected, Heathers Grey appears capable of stealing the race, and her 8-1 morning-line price adds to the appeal.

Race 8

#5 Lavender broke her maiden sprinting on Santa Anita’s turf in January, in her first start off a layoff. After a respectable effort against winners at the same 5 1/2-furlong distance, the 4-year-old filly stretched out to today’s one-mile trip with a rallying third March 7.

The Irish-bred owns a strong finishing kick, but needed racing experience to develop from a mental standpoint. I like the progress she has made in her last two races for Matthew Chew, and Lavender can keep moving forward with a victory beneath jockey Eswan Flores.

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