Santa Anita opens Saturday with an exciting 11-race program. Six stakes will be offered, including five graded events, and the Late Pick 5 features an all-stakes sequence.
Here is how I will play the All-Stakes Late Pick 5:
Race 7 – $200,000 San Antonio S. (G2), 5:09 p.m. (ET)
I will use three horses to open the sequence. #8 Mucho Gusto makes his first start in 301 days, and the San Antonio is a prep for his title defense in the Pegasus Cup World Cup (G1) in late January. I won’t single the short-priced favorite, but Mucho Gusto is trained by Bob Baffert and owns a 3-for-3 record at Santa Anita.
#3 Extra Hope is my top pick – the 4-year-old colt enters on the upswing for Richard Mandella, easily winning the Native Diver (G3) most recently. #4 Sharp Samurai will also be included following a good third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Race 8 — $300,000 La Brea S. (G1)
I am five-deep in the contentious 7-furlong test for 3-year-old fillies. #2 Merneith and #8 Motivated Seller, 1-2 in the Nov. 7 Fort Springs S. on the Breeders’ Cup Saturday undercard, look like major players for Baffert and Chad Brown, respectively.
#4 Secret Keeper, #5 Finite, and #11 Stellar Sound are also on the ticket.
Race 9 — $300,000 American Oaks (G1)
#9 Sharing is my single. The Speightstown filly will be stretching out to 1 1/4 miles, but she’s eligible to outclass the competition.
A five-time stakes winner, Sharing has been dogged by foot issues during her 3-year-old season. She returned from a layoff to post a stylish victory in the Edgewood S. (G2) at Churchill Downs in early September, but the chestnut didn’t post an official work for nearly two months afterwards. And she missed nearly another three months in advance of her close fourth in the Nov. 29 Matriarch S. (G1) at Del Mar.
I am encouraged to see Graham Motion bring her back off a 27-day rest – Sharing recorded a 6-furlong work in the interim, as well – and expect her to improve upon her last outing. After facing elder rivals last time, Sharing drops down to face an easier group of sophomore rivals, and her tactical speed should ensure a good trip with John Velazquez.
Race 10 – $300,000 Malibu S. (G1)
#4 Charlatan will be up close from the start, pressing the inside speed, and he’s eligible to run big off the bench for Baffert. #6 Independence Hall returns to stakes competition off a sharp prep, rallying to win going away in a Nov. 8 allowance at Del Mar. He should receive an ideal setup.
I will play against 6-5 morning line favorite Nashville, who won’t get an easy lead in his first graded attempt.
Race 11 – $75,000 Lady of Shamrock S.
#2 Miss Extra and #8 Counterparty Risk look very capable at expected short odds. I also will include #6 Last First Kiss, who switches back to turf after eight dirt starts . She’s bred for the sod – half-sister Don’t Blame Judy finished second in June’s Possibly Perfect S. on Santa Anita’s turf course – and I expect Last First Kiss to show speed in a field lacking pace; she’s a wire-to-wire threat at long odds if left alone on lead.
50-cent All-Stakes Pick 5 Ticket
3,4,8 with 2,4,5,8,11 with 9 with 4,6 with 2,6,8 ($45)