Stakes spot plays for closing day at Santa Anita

Profile Picture: Keeler Johnson

June 20th, 2020

Sunday, June 21 is closing day at Santa Anita, and it’s safe to say the meet will end with a bang.

A pair of graded stakes races on the turf course are the feature events of the afternoon, and both have drawn competitive fields.

Let’s try to close out on a winning note, with two spot plays on a $50 budget.

Race 6: San Juan Capistrano (G3, 6 p.m. ET)

The San Juan Capistrano is a unique race. Held over 1 3/4 miles, this test of stamina begins at the top of Santa Anita’s downhill turf course and continues for an entire lap around the Santa Anita oval.

#8 Ward ‘n Jerry is bound to be favored, after he employed stalking tactics to win Santa Anita’s 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey (G3) in March. The veteran campaigner has thrived since he stretched out in distance and retains the services of hot jockey Flavien Prat, a 33% winner at Santa Anita this meet.

A couple other runners warrant respect, too.

#2 Red King finished third in the San Juan Capistrano last year and was beaten just a nose by Ward ‘n Jerry in a 1 3/8-mile allowance race at Del Mar last summer. A stoutly bred son of English Channel, Red King sharpened up for another tilt at the San Juan Capistrano when he rallied strongly to win a 1-mile allowance May 24.

Then there’s #3 Tintoretto, a German-bred 4-year-old who will make his local debut for trainer John Sadler. Tintoretto failed to hit the board in his first six starts at 1 1/8 miles or less, but he has been dramatically more effective running long in Germany, where he showed an affinity for firm and soft ground alike to win a pair of handicaps.

These three runners appear to be a cut above their rivals, so let’s box them in the exacta and trifecta.

$4 exacta box: 2,3,8 ($24)
$1 trifecta box: 2,3,8 ($6)
Total: $30

Race 10: American (G3, 8 p.m. ET)

In a race stacked with infrequent winners and horses returning from long layoffs, #7 Border Town is an intriguing new face. A well-bred son of War Front, out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Liscanna, Border Town is a full brother to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) champion Hit It a Bomb and Cheveley Park (G1) winner Brave Anna.

Conditioned by hot trainer Richard Mandella, who is 7-for-24 (29%) at Santa Anita this meet, Border Town enters off two straight victories over the local turf course. After he rallied to win a 1 1/8-mile maiden race by 3 1/2 lengths, Border Town cut back in distance for a 1-mile allowance event and sprinted the final quarter in :22.43 to win comfortably.

Border Town is stepping up in class for the American, but with his improving form and strong turn of foot, he can produce a winning effort under Prat. We’ll keep things simple and bet Border Town to win.

$20 to win on #7 Border Town

Good luck!