Horses run in the fourth race at Santa Anita Park in front of empty stands, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Arcadia, Calif. While most of the sports world is idled by the coronavirus pandemic, horse racing runs on.
Horses run in the fourth race at Santa Anita Park in front of empty stands, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Arcadia, Calif. While most of the sports world is idled by the coronavirus pandemic, horse racing runs on.|Mark J. Terrill | Associated Press
Thoroughbreds

Plenty of horse racing action — Garrity picks races at Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, and the Sensational Star stakes race at Santa Anita

The day's lone stakes is the Sensational Star at Santa Anita Park, a 5 1/2 furlong state-bred turf dash for older horses that drew a field of ten.

Chris Garrity

We will be brief today: there is just one stakes race today, and we play that, plus a couple of other races. We're expecting fast dirt and firm turf everywhere. Let's go.

Gulfstream Park, Race 5, 3:08 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

Nine go in this mile grass race for 3-year-olds who have started in a prior race for a claiming price of $25,000 or less. We are still playing speed on the Gulfstream turf course; the horse who gets the early lead does not win every race automatically, but horses must be near the leader at the top of the lane, as horses are not just making up a lot of ground down the stretch.

It is because of this that we like 8-King of Ranch, who starts for trainer Mike Maker. His last three races have all been good, and he's got a pace-pressing running style that should work today. We expect him to be right off the lead during the first half mile, to surge to the lead on the far turn, and hold off the closers late. He just missed at this level last out, finishing second, three-quarters of a length behind the leader; we don't think he will miss today. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 5, $30 to win on 8-King of Ranch.

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:43 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/2 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

This turf marathon for older allowance females drew a field of eight. We're going with a price play here, 2-Whatdoesasharksay. She's a 4-year-old filly who has run exclusively on the grass, and while she has never run this far before, we think she will thrive at a mile and a half. She will not have the early lead, but she should be able to sit comfortably mid-pack during the first half of the race and move forward during the race’s later stages. At 15-1, she has a real shot at a pretty big upset, so we will bet her to win and to place. The bets: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $20 to win/$10 to place on 2-Whatdoesasharksay.

Oaklawn Park Race 8, 5:51 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-olds

This dirt sprint for sophomore colts drew a field of eleven. It's a good race to handicap. We are expecting a speed duel, and a pace meltdown, as there are several very fast horses who seem to know only one way to run, which is to go to the front and stay there for as long as we can. We think that will be less than the six-furlong distance of this race, so we're looking for a runner who can come from off the pace.

That runner, we think, is 4-Ranaan, who has been running in longer races at a mile or more, but who today cuts back to a sprint. Those route races were probably farther than he wants to go, but he broke his maiden at today's distance, and we think the pace scenario we are expecting will favor his one-run-closing running style. At 12-1, he is another longshot we think merits a play. We will bet him to win and to place. The bets: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $20 to win/$10 to place on 4-Ranaan.

Santa Anita, Race 8, 7:09 pm ET

$100,000 Sensational Star Stakes, 5 1/2 furlongs, Turf, California-breds 4 & Up

The day's lone stakes is the Sensational Star, a 5 1/2 furlong state-bred turf dash for older horses that drew a field of ten. There are two fillies in here running against the boys, and one of them, 4-Just Grazed Me, is a strong play: she has good early speed and a strong late kick, and this combination is lethal in turf sprints. She's in excellent form, having won three of her last four, one of them a Grade 3, and finishing second in the other. She is 4-1 on the morning line, presumably because bettors are usually hesitant to back a female running against males; we think this is largely foolish, as in other parts of the world, females run in open company very regularly, with great success. We think she will get a good stalking trip from her inside post position, and we think that Just Grazed me will win the 2020 running of the Sensational Star. We will bet her to win. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Just Grazed Me.

That's all for today. Enjoy the racing, stay safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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