The $100,000 Astra (G3) at 1 1/2 miles on the turf headlines the action, and the late Pick 4, at Santa Anita on Sunday. The closing four contests present an opportunity to make a decent score, as the favorite appears to be vulnerable to me in at least three of the legs of the sequence. I will single to commence the wager and hope that a few upsets occur follow along the way.
Race 6 — Optional Claiming
#3 Gates of Heaven (7-2) showed marked improvement in his graduating run in late November for conditioner Shelbe Ruis, who is off to a fast start at the current meeting (4-3-0-1). The son of Kantharos put it all together when drawing off most recently, and he seems poised for another big performance off the shelf in his initial try on the surface.
I think that #2 Uncle Boogie (9-5) is a play against with his decreasing Brisnet Speed figures in each start to date. Bob Hope (G3) runner-up loses Prat to another contender, and I will let him beat me on Sunday.
Race 7 — Astra (G3)
A well-matched field of nine fillies and mares will contest the feature. The second choice on the morning line, #3 Altea (3-1), is 2-for-24 lifetime, and she can’t be trusted despite her class edge.
#8 Quick (5-2) is an obvious inclusion for Sadler with consistent form and her third in the Red Carpet (G3) last time out. But she is no sure thing, either. Defending champ #9 Ms Peintour (4-1) has raced just once in a year, and she draws widest in the field, as well.
While I will include the three favorites in the wager, I expect the winner to come from the trio of #1 Avenue de France (6-1), #2 Miss Addie Pray (15-1) or #5 Hermaphrodite (6-1).
Race 8 — Allowance
Bob Baffert’s #5 As Time Goes By (8-5) will be a popular single in the sequence and is a must use. Well-bred 4-year-old was a sharp special weight winner most recently, and the American Pharoah filly should handle the added ground with ease in her first against winners. But defeating this lass could really spike the Pick 4, so I will add another in the case that she fails to deliver.
#3 Miss Megan (5-2) tired late in her last pair of outings, but she fits well in this spot for d’Amato. Lightly raced California-bred was a fine winner on the course in February, and the daughter of Richard’s Kid is capable of firing a big one on her best day.
Race 9 — Maiden Claiming
One-mile test on the lawn for the boys lacks a standout to me. It will be a spread race to close out the play, and I envision getting a price in the 11-horse maiden event.
#1 Direct Line (6-1) is my top pick and might be the one in his second grassy endeavor for Eurton. #2 Mongolian Kingdom (6-1) drops in class and tries the green for the initial time. Bay colt is bred to thrive on the surface change.
#3 Commanding Chief (5-2), #4 Malibu Dreamin (6-1), #6 Leme At Em (12-1), and #8 Croi Mor (8-1), also make the ticket.
Pick 4 Wager
- $.50-cent Pick 4: 3 with 1,2,3,5,8,9 with 3,5 with 1,2,3,4,6,8 ($36)