Santa Anita features a stellar 11-race card on Saturday’s opening day. Seven stakes races will be contested, led by a trio of Grade 1 tilts featuring some of the top horses in training in the Golden State.

I will be attacking the action later in the card, where I think a pair of short-priced favorites could get beat and spike some healthy multi-race exotics.

Race 7 —  La Brea (G1)

Seven-furlong affair on the main strip attracted a well-matched field of nine sophomore fillies. I expect the pace to be moderate for a top-level event, and am focusing upon forwardly placed runners.

#7 Hard Not to Love (6-1) makes her stakes debut for John Shirreffs, and she might be the one to catch if Mike Smith sends her. Daughter of Hard Spun has flashed sprint speed in each of her four assignments, and while this is a major class hike, I trust that the connections know what they have with the filly.

#8 Motion Emotion (15-1) could be the most intriguing contender in the cast. Richard Baltas trainee has some back class, and she also possesses plenty of speed from the gate. While the Take Charge Indy filly might not be as talented as a few in the field, she will prosper on the cut back in trip and rates an upset chance at big odds if able to clear early.

Bob Baffert’s #9 Mother Mother (6-1) is twice Grade 1-placed and has a pair of pace contenders drawn directly inside of her. $450,000 filly is training in swift fashion, and she could get first run turning for home from just off the pace beneath Rosario.

#1 First Star (4-1) has been impressive from three lifetime races to date. Ron Ellis pupil was a big second in the Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland, and she has fired bullets in her two most recent morning drills. Van Dyke will keep her in touch throughout from a cozy rail post.

Race 8 — Robert J. Frankel (G3)

Grassy affair for fillies and mares will be run at nine furlongs. Eight will go postward, and I feel confident going two-deep in this spot. Grade 1 heroine #7 Mirth (5-2) and 2018 runner-up #2 Excellent Sunset (7-2) look best to me today.

Race 9 — Malibu (G1)

Just five will go postward in the seven-furlong contest. The brilliant #5 Omaha Beach (4-5) is the one to beat and has a lot going for him for Richard Mandella. War Front colt loves the Santa Anita surface, he is training superbly, and the 3-year-old draws outside in the compact field. The sophomore will be a single on many tickets.

But in a Grade-1 race where the other contenders are saddled by either Baffert or Chad Brown, nothing is a given. I have always thought that #2 Complexity (5-2) could turn into something extraordinary, and this could be time for him to validate my belief.

The 2018 Champagne S. (G1) winner comes in following a splendid allowance coup at Aqueduct, and I love that he got a local work on the oval in preparation of today. Javier Castellano will be in the silks. Complexity will offer more value in the Pick 3 pools than his 5-2 morning line odds.

Suggested Wager (race 7):

  • $1 Pick 3: 1,7,8,9 with 2,7 with 2,5 = $16

Good Luck!