Santa Anita Picks for Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas! I hope you're having a wonderful holiday and are as excited for Santa Anita's opening day, as I am. Well, we have a fantastic card on tap, which is highlighted by two Grade I stakes: the La Brea and Malibu, both of which are for three-year olds, but the former is restricted to fillies. As a special treat, on top of my analysis, I'm pleased to include picks for the late Pick 4 from Stephen (@sw064351), who is a fantastic handicapper, particularly for those of you who follow international racing. Without further ado, on to our fancies.

Race 1-- Maiden Claiming $20,000: #7 Gold Tie Please
Best result in three career starts was a runner-up finish over a mile on the main track here. Blinkers on and Rafael Bejarano gets the mount in what will be his first start for a new barn.
*Others to consider: #2 Crusher

Race 2--Maiden Special Weight: #4 Forest Boy
Finished second in two of three starts over the main track at Santa Anita. His lone poor local start was over a mile, whereas he performed much better over six furlongs and change. Most recently finished third at Hollywood, one and one half lengths behind Battled, who was disqualified from the win. I think he'll appreciate the switch to conventional dirt more than the Baffert trained Battled, however and he's been working well recently.
*Others to consider: #5 Battled

Race 3-- Starter Allowance $40,000: #7 Amanda
Most recently destroyed maidens over one and one sixteenth miles on the all-weather track at Hollywood. She'll be making her first start on the turf, but she's shown ability on synthetic and the fact that she's sired by Smarty Jones is a plus. She has a strong series of recent works.
*Others to consider: #1 Buckingham Bull

Race 4-- Allowance Optional Claiming $40,000: #8 Five Palms
Lightly raced three-year-old son of Unbridled's Song broke his maiden in his first attempt before finishing fourth in a six and a half furlong allowance race at Hollywood. He impressively closed late, despite having to go five wide in that one though. He's worked very well over the main track at Santa Anita in preparation for this. Joel Rosario gets the mount.
*Others to consider: #9 Big Macher, #5 Wild Media

Race 5--Claiming $40,000-$35,000: #5 Trelawny
Won a $25,000-$22,500 claiming race on the Downhill Turf two-back before struggling as the favorite over the all-weather at Hollywood. A switch back to the turf should help and he's shined in works leading up to this race.
*Others to consider: #8 Carbonite, #10 Mr. Bossy Pants

Stephen's Late Pick 4 ($0.50): 4,6 / 5,9 / 4,5,7,10/ 2,5,7,8,10 --> $40 

Race 6--G2 La Brea Stakes: #7 Madame Cactus
Most recently won the G2 Lexus Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland and before that she finished second in a stakes at Del Mar, despite a slow start. Although she typically runs on synthetic, she did break her maiden by over six lengths over the main track at Santa Anita last year in a race that included the highly-regarded Fiftyshadesofhay and by all accounts, she's looked fantastic in recent works on the dirt. Sweet Lulu spots her (and everyone else in the field) five pounds. Joe Talamo gets the mount.
*Others to consider: #4 Executiveprivilege

Stephen's Choice: #6 My Happy Face -- Underrated sprinter. Will sit back and swoop, take holding out. 

Race 7--G2 Sir Beaufort Stakes: #8 No Jet Lag
One of my favorite horses in training, this three-year-old son of Johar out of a winning Green Desert mare has found success since arriving in America in June. He's raced three times since then, in which he's won two out of his three starts, including the G2 City of Hope Mile over this course and distance. The lone race in America he's lost was the Breeders' Cup Mile, in which he finished sixth. These aren't at that level, however. He's the class of this field, in my opinion, and a potential single for those of you who are playing the late Pick 3/4.
*Others to consider: None

Stephen's Choice: #9 Tom's Tribute -- Found the line strongly when winning Uniformity. Right in this. 

Race 8--G1 Malibu Stakes: #6 Demonic
Lightly-raced son of Bernardini broke his maiden in his first attempt over Tiz the Truth, who has since gone on to win three out of four starts, before an over eleven month layoff. He returned earlier this month at Hollywood, where he finished fifth despite going six-wide in an allowance race that included my top two choices for race four: Five Palms and Big Macher. Despite the fifth place finish, Demonic was only about two and a half lengths behind the winner at the end of the six and one half furlongs contest and looked to have plenty left in the tank. The anticipated early speed up front should be beneficial and if he improves in what will be his second start off the layoff, he could surprise at a price.
*Others to consider: #7 Central Banker, #2 Shakin It Up

Stephen's Choice: #10 Bakken -- Undefeated colt. Ability to rate at query but still hard to beat.

Race 9--Maiden Claiming $30,000: #3 Dream Totem
Son of Midnight Lute did not run well in his debut, but they've thrown everything but the kitchen sink at him since. This will be his first run as a gelding and he gets blinkers on, a drop in class, and a surface switch from synthetic to dirt. Martin Garcia retains the mount.
*Others to consider: #10 New Order, #5 Confisio

Stephen's Choice: #5 Confisio -- Drops a long way in grade for this and will strip fitter second-up. Warrents respect. 

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