Garrity's Sunday Santa Anita Picks include two Grade 3 Stakes – the San Marcos and Palos Verdes
Our wagering attention on the first Sunday of February goes to Santa Anita Park, the beautiful old Art Deco racetrack in suburban Los Angeles. Southern California racing has been beleaguered of late, which makes us sad, as it is where we learned this great game many years ago.
Much of the racing at Santa Anita in recent weeks has been nothing short of awful, but the card there today is quite good, and we are therefore pleased to take a stab at three of the races, two stakes and a good allowance, on the latter part of the program. We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all of them; let’s go.
Santa Anita Park, Race 6, 6:06 pm ET
Grade 3 San Marcos Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
The San Marcos, a Grade 3 at 10 furlongs on the turf, drew an evenly matched field of ten, making it a good betting race. It looks to us as though pace, as is so frequently the case in races on grass and is doubly so in grass races at this 10 furlong distance, is going to be the deciding factor in who wins. We think the early fractions will be solid, which should set the table for a come-from-behinder, and the one who looks the best to us is 8-Say the Word.
On the surface, there would appear to be several reasons for concern with this gelding: he’s 8 years old now, a grizzled veteran by Thoroughbred standards, and he comes into this race off a long layoff, having last run over a year ago. But we are willing to overlook these issues, partly because of his class – he’s won multiple graded stakes, including a Grade 1, in his long career – and partly because we think the race shape will favor his closing running style. Look for him to be well back early, and flying late; we will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 6, $40 to win on 8-Say the Word.
Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 6:38 pm ET
Grade 3 Palos Verdes Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
A half dozen sprinters line up for the Palos Verdes. With quite a bit of speed in the group, our natural inclination would be to look for a closer, but we are going to go the other way, to take the speed of the speed, as the old handicapping axiom goes: The pick is 1-Straight No Chaser, who has ample early zip, and, who, breaking from the rail, is going to need to use it: we think jockey Edwin Maldonado will hustle him to the front right out of the gate, outrun the other speed horses early, and hold off the stretch runners late. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 7, $40 to win on 1-Straight No Chaser.
Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:10 pm ET
Allowance, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, 4 & Up
A full field of eleven goes to the gate for this first-level allowance down Santa Anita’s iconic hillside turf course. We like 5-Doitforandrew, an English-bred 4-year-old who has run well of late, hitting the board in both of his two most recent starts. He’s never tried the distance, but the way he ran in his four starts in this country since being imported from Europe - he fared pretty well in races both shorter and longer – makes us think that he will thrive at it. Look for him to sit just behind the pacesetters early, to move toward the front around the far turn, and to squirt clear when the field enters the stretch. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Doitforandrew.
That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.