Santa Anita Sunday: Garrity picks 4 horse races, bets on & against Bob Baffert, likes a Peter Miller reclaim
We have four plays on this spring Sunday, all from Santa Anita, which will have none of the weather issues affecting tracks in the East. It’s an all-dirt lineup today, and the main track in Southern California will be fast. So let’s go.
Santa Anita, Park, Race 1, 4:00 pm ET
$25,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
The favorite, of the seven females who line up for this maiden claiming affair, is 7-Starship Sky. Based on speed figures, she’s a deserving choice, but we think she’s a play against, as she switches from longer races on turf, and more importantly, she is dropping significantly in class after being competitive at much higher levels. Maybe she is simply better than the rest of this group, but the fact that two starts back she finished a good second in a Maiden Special Weight race at Santa Anita -- those races are not easy to win -- and today trainer Bob Hess drops her way down the claiming ladder is, to us, a big negative sign. At a short price, we will pass.
We like 3-Nicole Grace. Like the favorite, she is a class dropper, but we think her move makes more sense: It looks like trainer Paddy Gallagher is placing her at a level at which she will be competitive. The presence of several speed-and-fade types in the field should set up the race for her stretch-running style, and we also like the presence of apprentice jockey Jessica Pyfer, who has ridden well of late, and who gets a seven pound break in the weights. We will bet Nicole Grace to win at 4-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 1, $35 to win on 3-NIcole Grace.
Santa Anita, Park, Race 3, 5:13 pm ET
$100,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Six go in this maiden race for sophomore colts. Horseplayers from the Captain Obvious school will be all over favored 2-Barraza, who starts for Bob Baffert after running decently in three career starts. He may win, but he’s going to be a minuscule price, probably something like 3/5, because of his speed figures, the short field, and the Baffert factor. At that price, we think he’s an underlay, as we view the fact that he is eligible to be claimed as a negative: He’s a son of Into Mischief, the hottest sire in the country right now, and that by itself virtually guarantees that he will be claimed here. Baffert obviously knows this, so for him to give up on a young horse with this kind of pedigree is alarming, and taking a short price on Barraza is a terrible wagering proposition.
We like 6-Sir Flatter. He too drops into this from straight maiden company, but that does not bother us, as he runs today for the first time since being gelded, and that significantly reduces his value as a Thoroughbred (geldings, and hopefully we do not need pictures to explain this, cannot become stallions). He has one career start, and we think it was deceptively good; we think Sir Flatter has big chance here, and at 5-2, he’s a much better bet than the favorite. We will bet him to win. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 3, $35 to win on 6-Sir Flatter.
Santa Anita, Park, Race 7
$100,000 Maiden Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Seven 3-year-old fillies line up for this dirt sprint, and in contrast to the 3rd race, Bob Baffert has an entrant here we like: It’s 2-Ginja. Like her stablemate, she drops out of straight maiden company and here is available to be claimed, but we find Ginja’s presence here much more palatable: Her owner, who happens to be Jill Baffert, aka Mrs. Bob Baffert, purchased her for $60,000 a year and a half ago, so a return of $100,000 would not be the worst investment in the history of the world. Ginja has speed, and today cuts back from 6 furlongs to five and a half -- we think she goes right ot the front, and wins this race in wire-to-wire fashion. We will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 7, $40 to win on 2-Ginja.
Santa Anita, Park, Race 8
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, California-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A field of nine lines up for this allowance/optional claimer. We like one on the outside, 8-Li’l Grazen. She’s a 7-year-old mare who has speed, and who has run well in a bunch of races going back to last summer, but what makes her the pick is her trainer, Peter Miller, who lost her at the claiming box last summer, but claimed her back out of her last start, which was a month ago. Miller has an exceptionally high 27% win rate with horses running first off the claim, and a return to the form she showed last summer, which we expect, makes her strictly the horse to beat here. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Li’l Grazen.
That’s all for now. Until the next time, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.