Santa Anita returns today, and we have a nine-race mixed card – on the dirt and turf – as the iconic Los Angeles venue hosts its first meeting since March.
Santa Anita has hosted numerous Breeder’s Cups and was the scene of some of the legendary Seabiscuit’s greatest races, making it truly is one of the most iconic American tracks.
Anyway, enough of the history lesson. Let’s get to the tips!
We get going with a 5 and a half furlong claimer on the turf for three-year-olds and we is going money back if you are second, third or fourth in the opener. It’s a battle of the sexes and we’re taking a chance on Peter Miller’s filly SHE’S SO SPECIAL. The selection was a winner around Santa Anita in January and then went on to land a 6 furlong event on the dirt at Golden Gate Fields. Last time out she flopped when odds-on favourite over a mile, however this is much more her trip and she is more than capable of mixing it with the boys. The drop back in grade also helps and She’s So Special should be on the premises under Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Flavien Prat.
Another 5 and a half furlong sprint, but this time on the dirt. The race sees the eagerly anticipated return of Todd Pletcher’s TALE OF THE UNION, who made a huge impression when crushing the field on his debut at Del Mar. That was back in August 2018, unfortunately since then his career has stalled due to minor setbacks, including a tibia injury and throat surgery. The speed figures from that debut run were very impressive and this trip looks to be right up his street. If there are any fitness issues with the selection, three times dirt winner Galilean will be the one to take advantage. But, all his victories have come over longer trips and he could find it difficult to stay with the exciting Tale Of The Union.
This race is a mile on the turf and it’s also where we have one of our extra place races on the card, as we are paying first four home here. With those generous place terms in mind, a chance is taken with HOLLYWOOD GIRL. This four-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway, trained by John Shirreffs, was very impressive when scoring on debut around here back in June. Since then, she was upped in class and in both races missed the break, by scuppering any chance she had at the starting stalls. She has now had a 279-day break to iron out these starting issues and has also been dropped in grade. Hall-of-fame Jockey Mike Smith takes over today, look for him to drop Hollywood Girl in behind and use her finishing kick to blast home.
It’s 6 furlongs on the dirt for this claimer. ADENS DREAM looks the one to beat after being dropped into this company. John Sadler’s seven-year-old has got blistering early speed and shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the outside draw in stall number 9, as there doesn’t seem to be too much early pace amongst the horses drawn inside. Jockey Cerapio Figueroa should have no problem sending the veteran gelding to the front and he can make the most of his front-running style. Look for Adens Dream to build up too much of a lead for chasing pack to reel in and record career victory number eight.
We round things off with another 5 and a half furlong sprint on the dirt. Bob Baffert has an excellent strike rate around here and he has a strong hand in the finale, saddling the likely favourite American Code and the intriguing debutant BIG MEL. The latter is a beautifully-bred $800,000 yearling whose half-brother Marvelous Max won at 7 furlongs. Both American Code and Big Mel have been working together in preparation for this and there hasn’t been much separating them according to gallops watchers. At the prices, a chance is taken Big Mel making his belated debut a winning one.
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* All odds correct at time of posting and are subject to change.