April 2012

Maiden 3-year-old fillies meet on turf at a mile in the closing day opener. #5 Lady Ten is overdue for a win and may have finally found a field she can beat. Her numbers are rising and she seems the solid choice. Stranger danger comes from #6 Playful Humor. She’s trained well for Drysdale, gets Rosario, and has more than enough of a foundation to be fit and ready for a big effort.

An outstanding Saturday program begins with a mid-grade claiming sprint down the hill; with good racing luck #2 Muny can return to winning form. The veteran gelding lacked a clear path inside the furlong pole when unplaced vs. similar last time out but has worked well since, retains Talamo, and deserves another chance. He’s listed at 5/2 on the morning and that seems fair.

The Friday program begins with a straight maiden middle distance affair that has only five starters, including #1 Wild Renowned, a one-paced, grindy sort who finished second in a similar event last month. #5 Blu John is the one to fear most; the John Shirreffs-trained horse stretches out and tries dirt for the first time following a sharp runner-up effort down the hill in his most recent outing.

Santa Anita’s final week of racing for the 2011-12 season begins with a Thursday program that offers the first baby race of the year, a two furlong dash that kicks off the eight race program. From what we’ve been able to gather #2 Bertrandos Express, #4 Panfila and #9 Confederate Recon all have done enough in the morning to indicate some ability so if you’re playing any early rolling exotics you should consider using at least these three somewhere on your ticket.

Sunday’s program begins with a bottom rung claiming sprint for fillies and mares that offers two short-priced contenders among the six starters. #4 Queenie Marini, runner-up in her last pair, gets an extra half furlong to work with today and this late-running sprinter will be doing her best work in the final furlong. #6 Mo Cheese drops to her lowest level ever while shortening up and returning to the main track. She lands the cozy outside post and likely will fold into an ideal pace prompting position.

As this is penned there’s a question as to whether there will be turf racing on Saturday. We’ll proceed under the assumption that the races will remain on grass.

#5 Fist Pump, a class dropper from Northern California, fits in this league on speed figures and we like him on either turf or dirt in today’s opener. He’s a good late-running sprinter and has the proper style for this extended sprint trip.

After encountering nothing but chalk yesterday let’s hope there are a few price possibilities on this Friday the 13th program. The opener is a maiden miler for older fillies and mares and although she’s exiting a maiden claimer #5 Ke Kukui has the edge in the speed figure department and looks ready to graduate. The Bell-trained daughter of Tiznow should enjoy an ideal pace prompting trip outside and we’re expecting her to kick on with it when it counts.

We’re down to the final two weeks of the 2011-12 Santa Anita season with a Thursday program that has a bit of a “chalky” look to it. #2 Royal Meridian should get the ball rolling in the opener – he’s 6/5 on the morning line – following a sharp third place effort in his debut earlier this season. The Canani-trained gelding has worked well since that race so he should move forward. #1 Octane continues to impress in the morning and is another who likely will improve with a race under his belt. These two should pretty much have it to themselves.

An eight race Easter Sunday program closes out the penultimate week of racing at the 2011-12 Santa Anita season with a 2/5 a morning line favorite in the opener 3-year-olds. #5 Forest Souvenir, second for $40,000 last time out and surfacing today for $12,500, must have issues but beats these if he has at least one more good one left in him. Bejarano stays aboard for Mullins; there’s clearly nothing to be gained here.

A terrific Santa Anita Derby day program – don’t forget, first post is Noon – begins with a first level allowance race at a mile that seems to be an ideal spot for #3 Liberal Arts. Stretching out again after an even effort in a hot recent sprint, the O’Neill-trained gelding should draft into an ideal pace prompting trip and then exert his superiority in the final furlong. A repeat of his race before last – a third place finish with a big figure – would be good enough to win.