by Scott Shapiro

The Saturday afternoon card at Santa Anita Park is headlined by the La Canada Stakes (G1) run at one mile over the main track.  The featured event is the 8TH race on the day, meaning it is included in the late Pick 4 sequence.

With three extremely challenging races around the $200,000 event for fillies and mares, I am going to take a stand in the feature and hope to find value elsewhere after failing to connect on my suggested Pick 4 tickets on the first two Saturdays of the 2018 winter meeting.

Here are my thoughts on Races 6 through 9 on the Saturday afternoon card:

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Race 6

The late Pick 4 gets rolling with an absolutely wide-open $50,000 claimer run down the hillside turf course.

In my Daily Selections on Brisnet.com, I picked Secreto Primero (#8) on top based on probable trip and success over this configuration, but I need to use several to kick things off.

However, I will toss 7-2 morning-line favorite Moonlight Drive (#7). I do not like that he is entered for a tag off the bench and think his best days are behind him.

Race 7

A low-level open claimer at six furlongs over the main track is up next.

Lambo Luxx (#10) is the one to beat based on his current form and success, both over this racetrack and at three-quarters of a mile, but he is far from a lock.

Pat the Bear (#1) is amongst a few price options that I will also include. The son of Exclusive Quality has the speed to make the lead from his rail draw and could be long gone if they do not pressure him on the backstretch.

Fueled by Bourbon (#7) is amongst the contenders that I will exclude from my wagering. On paper the son of Stroll looks like he should be rolling late, but he has failed to hit the board during his descent down the class ladder. An underneath finish is likely best-case scenario for the six-year-old gelding.

Race 8

The aforementioned La Canada is the third leg of the four-race sequence. The eight-horse field is led by Majestic Heat (#2).

The six-year-old mare appeared to be tailing off a bit toward the end of 2017 with two sixth-place efforts in graded stakes events going two turns on the lawn, but she has found a new home on the dirt for Hall of Famer trainer Richard Mandella.

The Cal-bred crushed a field of sprinters in the Betty Grable on November 12 at Del Mar and then proved she could get a route of ground on the main track with a 2 1/2-length victory in the Bayakoa (G2) at Los Alamitos early last month. She comes into her first start of 2018 razor sharp and retains the services of Mike Smith.

If “Big Money Mike” can keep his mare close enough to likely pacesetter Mended (#3), she should be able to make it three in a row as the 9-5-morning line favorite.

If you are looking to include another mare, Mended appears the only one good enough to take down Majestic Heat. The John Martin trainee tries graded company for the initial time after rattling off 10 straight since being claimed for just $12,500 a year ago. She faces her toughest task to date and may get pressured by Resky Business (#6) or Shenandoah’s Queen (#7), but if left alone she could get brave.

Race 9

The Saturday festivities conclude with a $25K claimer down the hill.

Coastline (#8) is listed as the 3-1-morning-line favorite based on his resume, but he is hard to trust on the massive drop in class from trainer Phil D’Amato.

I prefer the value offered by my top choice General Ike (#9), as well as Red Carpet Cat (#5), Bourque (#7) and Johnny Reb (#10).

Here is how I will play the Saturday afternoon Pick 4:

Ticket 1: ($.50 Pick 4)
Race 6: 1+3+4+5+6+8+10+11+12
Race 7: 1+2+4+10
Race 8: 2
Race 9: 5+7+9+10

Ticket Cost: $72

Good luck at the windows!