Santa Anita stakes analysis: Playing a pair of $20 exactas

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June 18th, 2020

The Santa Anita spring meet is winding down, with closing day scheduled for June 21. Fortunately for racing fans, the meet will end on a high note, with a bevy of weekend stakes on the agenda.

Among the highlights are the Wilshire (G3) and Lazaro Barrera (G3) on Saturday.

Let’s play both races on a $40 budget ($20 per race), with our attention focused on exactas.

Race 2: Wilshire (G3, 4 p.m. ET)

#5 Keeper Ofthe Stars and #6 Toinette are a cut above their rivals in this 1-mile turf test.

Toinette was among California's best fillies and mares on grass last season. She dominated the 1-mile Goldikova (G2) and finished a close third against tough company in the 1 1/8-mile John C. Mabee (G2).

But Toinette hasn’t run since December, and Keeper Ofthe Stars has become the “now” horse, with back-to-back wins in the 1-mile Buena Vista (G2) and 1 1/8-mile Gamely (G1).

Both Keeper Ofthe Stars and Toinette have the tactical speed to be prominent from the outset, which sets the stage for clean and unencumbered trips. They’re both proven running a mile against quality competition and have demonstrated strong bursts of acceleration in their signature victories.

Splitting Keeper Of the Stars and Toinette is the tricky part, but it might not be necessary. We’ll just box them in the exacta and call it a day.

$10 exacta box: 5,6 ($20)

Race 9: Lazaro Barrera (G3, 7:30 p.m. ET)

#1 Collusion Illusion won his first two starts at Del Mar last summer, and most notably rallied to defeat future Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) third-place finisher Wrecking Crew and UAE 2,000 Guineas (G3) victor Fore Left in the 6-furlong Best Pal (G2).

But Collusion Illusion didn't fire at all when he stretched out around two turns in the American Pharoah (G1) and went to the sideline for eight months.

On the bright side, Collusion Illusion returned none the worse for wear in a 6-furlong allowance May 17 at Santa Anita, where he finished strongly to beat next-out stakes winner Tiger Dad by three lengths.

Trainer Mark Glatt is winning at a 33% rate this meet and figures to have Collusion Illusion poised for improvement in his second start off the bench.

We’ll bet Collusion Illusion in a cold exacta, over #2 Ragtime Blues, a speedy frontrunner for the Hall of Fame team of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith.

$20 exacta: 1 with 2

Good luck!