Homeracing

Spot Plays in the Las Virgenes

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

February 2nd, 2018

Sunday at Santa Anita Park is not covered with graded stakes races throughout the day, but the card does contain a $200,000 event for three-year-old fillies to start the afternoon’s Pick Six.

The Grade 2 Las Virgenes did not come up strong in 2018, but it does offer horseplayers another shot to watch undefeated 3-5-morning line favorite #3 Dream Tree.

The $750,000 FTF March 2017 purchase for Phoenix Thoroughbred III was all out and somewhat fortunate to have won her first two races last fall, but she showed me a lot last time out in her three and a quarter length victory in the Starlet at Los Alamitos. Not only did she dominate the four-horse field that honestly did not possess any Grade 1 quality animals outside of the winner, but she showed that she can both settle off the pace and get two turns.

The bottom line is that I had my reservations about this daughter of Uncle Mo before her last, but have no desire to try to beat her in the Las Virgenes, even at a likely very short price.

#1 Thirteen Squared is the second half of the uncoupled Bob Baffert entry. The Arnold Zetcher homebred failed to impress in three starts sprinting to start her career, but woke up in a big way in December wiring out a field of 9 by nearly seven lengths in the end.

At 5-2 on the line, she is hard to include if I am singling Dream Tree on top, but this daughter of Liaison may have figured things out for her Hall of Fame trainer. A strong performance in her initial try versus winners is certainly a strong possibility.

#4 Exuberance is a horse that intrigues me in the backend of exotic wagers. The $100,000 Barretts March 2017 purchase was outrun last time out in the aforementioned Grade 1 Starlet, but I can forgive that effort since she was drawn to the rail at a racetrack where the inside is usually at a disadvantage.

With three horses that like to be prominently placed drawn to her inside and the possibility of a hot early pace, I will take my chance that this daughter of Archarcharch can bide her time at the back of the pack in the early going and pass her tiring rivals in the lane. The fact Corey Nakatani takes over riding duties on Sunday is certainly a positive.

Wagering Strategy for The Las Virgenes

$25 Cold Exacta

3-4

I will also single the favorite #3 Dream Tree in the early Pick 5, as well as any other horizontal wagers I play that she is involved in.

With the compact field and a heavy top choice on the morning line, it is not a great race for wagering, but let’s make lemonade out of lemons and end the weekend with a positive ROI.
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