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Santa Anita Park
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Thursday Horse Racing: Garrity warms up for the Breeder's Cup with picks for three races at Santa Anita

His first race is at 5:30 pm EDT.

Chris Garrity


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We've been working hard on handicapping the Breeders Cup races, but we will take a break from that very enjoyable task to play a few races today. To get in the Breeders Cup spirit, we are going to beautiful Santa Anita Park, the site of this year's Breeders Cup, where we will try to dodge the fires and the smoke plaguing Southern California to dope out a couple of winners. It will be fast and firm in the San Gabriel Valley today; let's go.

Santa Anita, Race 4, 5:30 pm ET

Starter Allowance, 1 mile, dirt, 2-year-olds

A short field of six draws into this starter allowance. We like 2-Absolute Weapon, who starts for trainer Andrew Lerner. This colt ran well twice on dirt, including a win in a $30k maiden claimer at Los Alamitos in September, before finishing a dull eighth in a turf stakes in his last. We view the grass race as a failed experiment, and think he fits very nicely running back on the dirt. He has high speed, and breaking from the inside, we see him going right to the front, and staying there all the way to the wire. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $25 to win on 2-Absolute Weapon.

Santa Anita, Race 5, 6:00 pm ET

$32,000 Claiming, 1 mile, turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

There's a field of eight in this race, and most of them seem to want to go to the front, and to go fast to get there. That means an early pace that's too quick, which will set up the race for a come-from-behinder. We like the outside horse, 8-Wind Tartare: this French-bred 5-year-old mare is not exactly a win machine, with two wins from 19 career starts, but she generally runs well when she has pace to run at. The Santa Anita turf course can be very speed favoring, but with the Breeders Cup starting tomorrow, we think it will be fair, as they do not want a biased track to influence the results. That should favor Wind Tartare, and that makes her the pick. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 5, $30 to win on 8-Wind Tartare.

Santa Anita, Race 8, 7:30 pm ET

$70,000 Lure Stakes, 1 mile, turf, 3 & Up

There's a field of ten in the Lure, We think there will be a fast pace in this one, as 7-Lil Milo has sprinter's speed, and is a cinch to go right to the front. We think he has zero chance to win the race, but setting quick fractions will set the race up for a horse with a strong stretch run. We think that horse is 8-Ronald R, who's trained by Ron Ellis. This 5-year-old gelding was away from the races for a long time, over a year, but since returning to the track at Del Mar in July, he's run exceedingly well, winning two straight allowance races with powerful stretch runs. We see him doing the same thing today, and that will put him in the winner's circle. He's never won a stakes race before, but we like that, as it gives us a very, very square 10-1 price on the morning line. Bettors will probably favor more accomplished horses, but the horses who have won stakes in the past are not as razor-sharp as Ronald R is. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Ronald R.

That's all for today. We will be back tomorrow for the first day of the Breeders Cup. Until then, good luck at the windows.