The weather should be good at the Great Race Place today, and the dirt fast and the turf firm. First picked post is 4:02 pm EDT.
This fine Sunday, there is only one graded stakes race on the national calendar, the Grade 3 Desert Stormer at Santa Anita. Partly because of potential weather issues elsewhere, and partly because our results the last two days have been, uh, less than robust, we’re going to hone in on that race, and on the card at Santa Anita. When we have streaks where things are not going right -- and everyone has them -- we like to narrow our focus to shake off the bad juju of a cold streak. The weather should be good at the Great Race Place today, and the dirt fast and the turf firm. Let’s go.
Maiden Special Weight, 4 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies
Only six fillies were entered in this, the first baby race at Santa Anita this year. We like it despite the short field because we fancy a runner that we think may be overlooked in the betting: it’s 4-Judy With Grace. In a race where all six entrants are first-time starters, we give her the edge because trainer Ron Ellis is an ace with firsters: he wins at a very good 36% clip with horses making their career debuts. She’s also a very well-bred filly, by top sire Bernardini and out of a Smart Strike mare. We will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 2, $20 to win on 4-Judy With Grace.
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
A field of seven goes to the gate for the 6th at Santa Anita, a tough non-winners of two allowance. Six of them are older horses, but we like the lone 3-year-old in the field, 7-Collusion Illusion, who won his first two starts as a juvenile last year, impressing trainer Mark Glatt enough that his third start was in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita on September 29. Something went wrong that day, as Collusion Illusion was pulled up and didn’t finish the race. He has been away since then, but we like the speed figures he earned as a juvenile, and we especially like the way this colt has been training — he has been absolutely sizzling in his recent morning drills. We think he’ll get a good stalking trip from his outside post and earn a trip to the winner’s circle with a big move around the far turn. Look for something special from this horse today. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 6, $40 to win on 7-Collusion Illusion.
Grade 3 Desert Stormer Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Of the eight entrants in the Desert Stormer, the headliner, and 6/5 morning line favorite, is 5-Bellafina, who campaigned year against some of the top female horses in the country. She won the 2019 Santa Anita Oaks, a Grade 1, and then ran in six consecutive Grade 1 races after that. She’s a highly accomplished 4-year-old filly who has earned favoritism. But we think she is vulnerable today, especially at a very short price and at 6 furlongs, which is probably shorter than her best distance. It’s also tough to endorse her off six consecutive losses, even though all six were against much tougher than she will face today. She may win, but we are looking elsewhere.
We like 2-First Star. She is a lightly raced 4-year-old trained by Ron Ellis, and though she lacks Bellafina’s glittering credentials, we think she’s sitting on a big one today: she cuts back in distance, having last run at a mile and a sixteenth, and has good early speed and the ability to finish strongly, and this combination is always dangerous. We see her sitting just behind the pacesetters and moving to the front at the top of the stretch. We think she’s a good play at 6-1, and will bet her to win. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 2-First Star.
We’re also going to play the Pick 3 that covers Races 6 through 8 at Santa Anita this afternoon. In the 6th, we’ll include 4-Rowayton, a speedy Don Chatlos trainee coming off a layoff, with 7-Collusion Illusion, our top win pick. In the 7th, we are including all nine runners — it’s a wide open race, so we’ll hit the All button and hope for a giant longshot. In the 8th, we’ll include 1-Fighting Mad, 2-First Star, 3-Mother Mother, and 5-Bellafina. The ticket is as follows:
Santa Anita Park, Race 6, 5-cent Pick 3: 4,7 with ALL with 1,2,3,5.
That’s 72 total combinations, for a play of $36 at the 50-cent level.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.