Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Plus Que Parfait

Imperial Racing LLC’s Plus Que Parfait punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a score in the U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2). The sophomore sits in fourth place on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 104 points.

The chestnut started his career on the turf at Ellis Park as a juvenile and finished third at first asking. He graduated in his third effort in a maiden special weight event at Keeneland and capped his two-year-old season by finishing a closing second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).

Plus Que Parfait started 2019 slowly, though, finishing off-the-board in both the Lecomte Stakes (G3) and Risen Star Stakes (G2). His triumph at Meydan was a fine form reversal, but his class remains in question due to the pair of subpar showings at Fair Grounds.

He was bred in the Bluegrass State by Calloway Stables LLC and passed through the sales ring on a pair of occasions. The youngster was an RNA for $24,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale prior to bringing the gavel down at $135,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

The contender is by Point of Entry, who has sired six stakes winners from a trio of crops to have raced. 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) third Analyze It is among his top performers to date.

The first dam of Plus Que Parfait is the unplaced Awesome Again mare Belvedera, who counts herself as a half-sister to 1999 Canadian Oaks starlet Touch Dial. This is the same female line that produced three-time Australian Group 1 winner Toldeo.

Awesome Again has been a very productive broodmare sire, as his daughters are responsible for at least 71 stakes winners and have banked more than $62 million overall. Five individual champions are among those, led by 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) hero Accelerate.

His second dam is the Badger Land mare Forever Land, winner of the 1991 Astoria Stakes (G3). She was a sprinter who never built on her two-for-two juvenile campaign, garnering just one more tally in her final 14 starts.

Plus Que Parfait does not boast the deepest catalog page in the Kentucky Derby field. He is far from a blue-blood and there are speed influences through the first few generations of his female line.

The ridgling did finish well going 1 3/16 miles at Meydan, though the overall quality of that field is debatable. He will be hard pressed to improve off of that performance facing 19 foes going 1 1/4 miles at Churchill
Downs
.

Plus Que Parfait appears to be a Kentucky Derby outsider.

PHOTO: Plus Que Parfait and jockey Jose Ortiz win the U.A.E. Derby (G2) at Meydan on March 30, 2019 (c) Dubai Racing Club/Mathea Kelley

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Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Omaha Beach

Fox Hill Farms Inc.’s Omaha Beach picked up his second consecutive graded stakes win following a one-length tally in the Arkansas Derby (G1). The colt has earned 137.5 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and will vie for favoritism at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Omaha Beach raced on the lawn in his first trio of outings as a juvenile and hit the board on each occasion. The Richard Mandella trainee was switched to the dirt for his three-year-old debut and checked in a sharp second at Santa Anita Park. A nine-length maiden victory followed, and the dark bay colt then captured the Rebel Stakes (G2) when topping unbeaten champion Game Winner by a measured nose.

The colt was bred in the Bluegrass State by Charming Syndicate, and he didn’t meet his reserve after a final bid of $625,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He was purchased privately after the sale by his current owner.

Omaha Beach is by top sire War Front, who has celebrated great success on both sides of the ocean. From 10 crops to date, War Front has sired eight individual champions and more than 80 stakes winners. The son of Danzig is well represented for the Kentucky Derby (G1) with Omaha Beach and Risen Star Stakes (G2) victor War of Will.

Omaha Beach is out of the winning Seeking the Gold mare Charming, who counts herself a half-sister to champion Will Take Charge as well as 2012 Florida Derby (G1) star Take Charge Indy. Omaha Beach was preceded in Grade 1 glory by his half-sister, champion and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) heroine Take Charge Brandi.

His second dam is the Dehere mare Take Charge Lady, who was the 2013 Broodmare of the Year. She was also a multiple Grade 1 winner who finished second in the 2002 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Dehere has been an outstanding broodmare sire. His daughters have produced more than 100 stakes winners, including champions Will Take Charge, Long Train Running and Midnight Lute. Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) star City of Light, and Grade 1 winner and sire Graydar, are also out of Dehere mares.

Omaha Beach is from a rapidly evolving female line and his sire is among the best at his craft. The sophomore has been finishing off his route races like a colt that will not have distance limitations. And his connections are as likable as any in the thoroughbred industry, in my opinion.

I believe Omaha Beach possesses all the tools to be crowned a Kentucky Derby winner.

PHOTO: Omaha Beach captures the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on April 13 under jockey Mike Smith (c) Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park

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Keeneland Spot Plays for Saturday, April 13, 2019

Four stakes races, topped by the $350,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1), will lead a superb 11-race card at Keeneland on Saturday. I have tabbed six longshot contenders of interest to me who will offer very good value.

RACE 3: Maiden Special Weight

I Can Do Anything (#1) (15-1) showed speed before faltering late in a maiden special weight dash at Saratoga in the summer of 2017. The gray gelding is unraced since but is training swiftly for Stanley Hough, who can have them ready off the layoff. The main rivals of the five-year-old gelding are drawn widest and he could get first run beneath jockey Florent Geroux.

RACE 5: Allowance/Optional Claimer

Harbor Lights (#3) (10-1) is not the most talented filly in the field, but the Steven Asmussen pupil might receive a winning trip. The chestnut miss has been something of an all-or-nothing commodity to this point, though she has a lot of reason to improve second off the shelf. The four-year-old will take back behind a swift and contested pace before making her move late at a price.

RACE 6: Allowance

Fiber Optic (#12) (8-1) lands in a competitive field while drawing widest in the cast for conditioner Ian Wilkes. The Morning Line filly showed a sharp turn of foot in a last-to-first victory at Gulfstream Park in her debut offering. She could be a nice prospect as horses simply don’t win for this outfit first time out.

RACE 8: Giant’s Causeway Stakes

The Christopher Davis-trained Student Body (#5) (10-1) looked the part in her front-running score in the Mardi Gras Stakes at Fair Grounds most recently. The Colonel John mare looks like the speed of the speed in her second try on the weeds. The five-year-old bay will be a healthy price in a big field and is proven over turf with some give in it.

RACE 9: Lexington Stakes (G3)

Shang (#1) (10-1) didn’t beat much at 1-5 odds versus Louisiana-bred foes at Fair Grounds last out. However, the Shanghai Bobby colt flew home while being eased up late in an excellent performance. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt faces tons better in this spot but he will get a fast pace to rally into late with Irad in the controls.

RACE 11: Maiden Special Weight

I have a pair of horses of interest in the finale, but will settle with one. Newcomer (#3) (10-1) showed brief speed before being outrun late in his debut for trainer Ian Wilkes. The First Defence gelding exits what was a live heat, as runner-up Honest Mischief registered a robust 108 BRIS Speed number in a maiden romp here on April 6. The sophomore will move forward in this spot in a field lacking a standout.

PHOTO: Student Body, ridden by Miguel Mena and trained by Chris Davis, charges past the competitions in the 76th running of the Mardi Gras Stakes at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on March 5, 2019 (c) Hodges Photography/Amanda Hodges Weir

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Late Pick 4 the play on 2019 Arkansas Derby Day

The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) will top a fine 12-race card at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. My major focus on the day, other than the feature, will be on the late Pick 4. It’s a fairly logical sequence, but I feel that the favorite might be upended in each of the four legs. Hence, the return could be a generous one.

RACE 9: Oaklawn Handicap (G2)

A field of nine will vie in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) going 1 1/8 miles. A trio of runners will be forwardly placed in the first leg of the late Pick 4, and I will use all three. I expect a moderate early tempo and for one of them come out on top.

Pioneer Spirit (#2) (10-1) is the value play. The Brad Cox trainee had a good prep win last time and could be the inside speed of the field if sent early on by jockey Luis Saez.

Last-out Essex Handicap third Giant Expectations (#6) (3-1) and Grade 2 winner Quip (#7) (4-1) both have speed and class, and will make the ticket.

RACE 10: Allowance/Optional Claimer

This first-level allowance tilt brings out 10 in a tricky handicapping assignment. Lighthawk (#2) (3-1) has shown vast improvement in his last two for trainer Ron Moquett. The logical Tapit gelding is a must use as the potential one to beat.

Combatant (#4) (5-2) must also be included. The dual Grade 2-placed son of Scat Daddy has faced stakes foes in his last 13 races and will appreciate the class relief. He is no sure thing, though, with just a single tally on his resume.

Doug O’Neill’s Meistermind (#1) (8-1) and recent maiden winner Tiz McNamara (#10) (5-1) wouldn’t surprise and are both worth inclusion.

RACE 11: Arkansas Derby (G1)

Eleven will go postward in the Arkansas Derby. Many view this as a two-horse race and, while I agree, it’s likely a different pair that I will side with than the majority will.

Galilean (#7) (10-1) is my top play at a price. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee had trouble when a good third in the first division of the Rebel Stakes (G2) and will appreciate the added ground to work with today. Flavien Prat comes along to ride the son of Uncle Mo.

Omaha Beach (#3) (2-1) is a rising star and won in easier fashion in the second division of the Rebel last time than his chart might indicate. The War Front colt continues to fire morning bullets in preparation of this race for trainer Richard Mandella. His draw inside of the other pace in the field is the lone concern.

RACE 12: Maiden Special Weight

I tried to pare down the finale but the top contenders in the cast are difficult for me to separate. The closing leg looks to produce a logical result and I have a lot of confidence in closing the wager using a quintet of runners.

Rotation (#3) (3-1), Flatout Winner (#5) (5-1), Cowboy Diplomacy (#6) (5-2), Speed App (#7) (10-1) and Verve’s Humor (#8) (7-2), are the ones.

SUGGESTED WAGER

50-cent Pick 4 play
2,6,7 with 1,2,4,10 with 3,7 with 2,5,6,7,8 = $60

Good Luck!

PHOTO: Galilean surveys Oaklawn Park on April 11, 2019 (c) Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park

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Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Vekoma

R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables’ Vekoma earned a berth in the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 4 with a convincing tally in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. The once-beaten colt earned 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby to book his spot in the starting gate for conditioner George Weaver.

The Blue Grass winner was bred in Kentucky by Alpha Delta Stable LLC. He was purchased for $135,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from the Lane’s End consignment.

Vekoma is by top sire Candy Ride, who is also represented on the Derby Trail through his son, champion Game Winner. Candy Ride’s popularity has grown in recent years, in part due to the success of Horse of the Year and near $16 million earner Gun Runner. In total, progeny of Candy Ride have amassed at least 83 stakes wins to date.

Vekoma’s first dam is the Speightstown mare Mona de Momma, who was victorious in the 2010 Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs and Las Flores Handicap (G3) at Santa Anita Park. Mona de Momma was a one-turn specialist who finished well back in her lone route attempt.

Eclipse Award winner Speightstown was a brilliant racehorse who concluded his career with a convincing score in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Lone Star Park. The son of Gone West has been a good broodmare sire, with his daughters producing at least 20 stakes winners to date, though the majority of those have ben sprinter/miler types.

The second dam of Vekoma is the Linkage mare Society Gal, who is a half-sister to a pair of stakes winners including influential sire Mr. Greeley. This is the same female line as multiple Grade 1 queen Paradise Woods as well as 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) and 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) star Street Sense.

Vekoma has done little wrong to date with three wins and a good third from four lifetime tries. The Kentucky-bred chestnut was much the best at Keeneland in his debut at nine furlongs, and the colt might be able to carve out 1 1/4 miles under the right circumstances.

However, I think his questionable action combined with a pedigree that is geared towards middle distances, will make the 10-furlong voyage in a 20-horse field at Churchill Downs a huge obstacle for him.

Vekoma is clearly one of the more talented horses in his generation, but I feel that he will be a cut below at the Kentucky Derby distance.

PHOTO: Vekoma and jockey Javier Castellano win the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland on April 6, 2019 (c) Coady Photography/Keeneland

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Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Maximum Security

Gary and Mary West’s homebred Maximum Security earned 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby following his wire-to-wire tally in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. The Jason Servis trainee improved to an unbeaten four-for-four after his 3 1/2-length triumph beneath Luis Saez.

Maximum Security is the first graded winner by 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) hero New Year’s Day. By the brilliant Street Cry, New Year’s Day is a half-brother to 2016 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) victor Mohaymen, as well as 2019 El Camino Real Derby runner-up Kingly.

Maximum Security’s dam is the winning Anasheed mare Lil Indy, who is also responsible for an unnamed yearling colt by Flashback. Lil Indy counts herself as a half-sister to three-time Grade 1 victor and sire Flat Out, who won back-to-back editions of the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park in 2011-12.

Anasheed has had little impact as a broodmare sire in North America, though he has yet to be given a serious chance in the states. The well-bred son of A.P. Indy was sold to Russian interests for stud duty in 2010, but he hails from one of the classier families in racing.

His first dam is European champion Flagbird, one of seven stakes winners produced by Grade 2 queen Up the Flagpole. This immediate female line includes an honor roll consisting of Horse of the Year Mineshaft and his dam, two-time Grade 1 queen and Broodmare of the Year Prospector’s Deelite; multiple Grade 1 heroine Tomisue’s Delight; Grade 1 star Mr. Sidney; 2008 Ashland Stakes (G1) winner and Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up Little Belle; 2017 Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) victress Dickinson; 2013 Louisiana Derby (G3) star Revolutionary; etc.

Maximum Security is by a $5,000 stallion and has a broodmare sire who has yet to impact racing in the United States. In addition, he also began his career at the modest $16,000 maiden claiming level.

But make no mistake – the Kentucky Derby contender has an intriguing bloodline. It’s more than conceivable that he will withstand the 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs on May 4. The unbeaten sophomore finished fast going 1 1/8 miles in his final Derby prep to indicate that he might not have distance limitations.

I think Maximum Security is among the most fascinating horses on the Triple Crown trail.

PHOTO: Kentucky Derby contender Maximum Security posting a convincing win in the Florida Derby (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

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Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Tacitus

Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Tacitus moved to the top of the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard following his 1 1/4-lengths victory in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct. The once-beaten sophomore will aim to give Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott his first Kentucky Derby (G1) winner on May 4.

Tacitus has won three races in succession, with a score in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) preceding his Wood Memorial triumph. The well-bred sophomore is three-for-four lifetime and has shown a powerful turn of foot from a pair of 2019 starts.

The winner is by 2004 Wood Memorial (G1) hero Tapit, who is viewed by many as the top stallion in North America. He has sired three previous classic winners, and the son of Pulpit has been a source of class and stamina since arriving for stud duty at Gainesway Farm.

Tacitus is out of champion Close Hatches. Also trained by Mott, the classy daughter of First Defence was a five-time Grade 1 heroine who strung together victories in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) and Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) during her championship season. Her full sister, Lockdown, rallied for third in the 2017 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

First Defence has yet to establish himself as a consistent broodmare sire as of yet, though he is having a serious impact on the 2019 Road to the Kentucky Derby. In addition to Tacitus, El Camino Real Derby romper Anothertwistafate is also out of a mare by First Defence.

While the catalog page is not littered with black-type performers through the first three dams, this is a robust female line full of champions, classic winners and sires when going back a few generations. It traces to Broodmare of the Year Best in Show, one of the most acclaimed broodmare lines established in recent Thoroughbred history.

Tacitus is in-bred through Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew. His running style has shown that he covets going long, and being in the hands of Mott will allow him every chance to improve as the distances increase.

The Kentucky Derby (G1) contender is lightly raced with just four career starts under his belt. He has every right to continue his ascension with additional seasoning. Tacitus is one to seriously consider for the Run for the Roses and the following two legs of the Triple Crown.

PHOTO: Tacitus and jockey Jose Ortiz win the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs on March 9, 2019 (c) SV Photography

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Reformed claiming horses taking center stage in 2019

Claiming runners turning into prominent horses is not a new thing in horse racing. We could look back to the early 1940s when a horse named *Princequillo was claimed for a reported $2,500. He not only outran his price tag to become among the top distance horses of his times, but Princequillo was twice a leading sire and six times the leading Broodmare Sire in North America. He may be most recognized through his daughter Somethingroyal, dam of Secretariat.

Legendary horses such as two-time Horse of the Year John Henry, Hall-of-Fame recipient Stymie, three-time Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) star Lava Man and dual-classic winning champion Charismatic are a few of the most prominent rags-to-riches horses that come to mind.

It has been a banner early part of the 2019 season for horses previously entered in claiming events. Not only have a pair of legitimate Kentucky Derby (G1) contenders emerged, but a few division leaders are on the list as well.

Maximum Security

Unbeaten three-year-old has won in each of his four lifetime races, capped by a dominant score in the Florida Derby (G1) last time out for Jason Servis. The superb son of New Year’s Day will go postward in the Run for the Roses as the potential one to catch. Maximum Security debuted for a modest $16,000 first time out at Gulfstream Park in December.

Tax

Withers (G3) victor proved his graded tally was no fluke after finishing a fine second in the Wood Memorial S. (G2) over the weekend. Trained by Danny Gargan, the well-bred gelded son of Arch will move on to Louisville as a fresh runner, and one that is bred for the Derby distance, as well. Tax ran initially for a $30,000 tag before being haltered for $50,000 from his second lifetime start.

World of Trouble

Another from the Servis shedrow, the son of Kantharos is among the most talented and most versatile one-turn horses in training. Florida-bred colt finished a big second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) in the fall, and he bagged the Carter H. (G1) on the Aqueduct main oval on Saturday.

He owns stakes wins on a fast surface, a sloppy oval and on the turf, too. World of Trouble debuted for a $25,000 tag in August 2017.

Vasilika

Jerry Hollendorfer’s mare started out with humble beginnings, facing maiden claiming foes in seven of her initial eight lifetime starts. Kentucky-bred daughter of Skipshot was claimed in February of 2018 for $40,000 by her current connections and the rest is history.

The five-year-old is 11-for-13 since, amassing six graded wins along the way including the 2018 Rodeo Drive S. (G1). She is untested from a trio of graded wins in 2019 and clearly the top turf distaffer based in the Golden State right now. Combining her residual value with her on-track credentials, I would consider Vasilika to be among the most successful claims in recent times. She is an absolute gem!

Zulu Alpha

Gelded son of Street Cry was not a cheap claim, picked up for $80,000 in September, and has been sharp in 2019. The six-year-old is perfect from two tries, taking the William L. McKnight S. (G3) and Mac Diarmida S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park. The turf stayer is unbeaten at marathon distances since being moved to the barn of Mike Maker and with another top performance or two, Zulu Alpha can stamp himself as one of the better long-distance turf performers in the U.S.

These five diamonds in the rough are paving the way in 2019 and proof that the claiming game is alive and well!

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Harness Racing

Live harness racing returns to Hoosier Park

Harness racing action at Hoosier Park commences on Friday to kick-off their much-anticipated meet. The Anderson, Indiana, venue will host races on Friday and Saturday during opening weekend, and from Thursday through Saturday on April 4-6.

Following that, the popular harness racing attraction will be held five days a week on Tuesday through Saturday, until the conclusion of the meet on November 9.

There are numerous stakes events held at Hoosier Park, starting with the Spring Overnight Series. The Circle City Series, Madison County, Jenna’s Beach Boy Pace and the Caesars Trotting Classic are some of the big draws during the meeting.

The signature event at the venue is the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes, which takes place on August 9 and often attracts the top pacers in North America.

A total of 128 horses have been entered for the season opener that includes eight races dedicated to the newly formed Harrah’s Hoosier Park Claiming Challenge. First post, as it will be on each racing day, is 6:30 p.m. (ET).

New to the bettors at Hoosier Park for 2019 is the guaranteed $20,000 Trifecta Pool in Race 10 on Wednesday nights, as well as the $10,000 guaranteed Pick-4 pool on Thursday evenings (Races 3-6). These two incentives are worth keeping track of with robust pools, and full fields, to bet into.

Hoosier is also guaranteeing the High 5 pool at $10,000 a day in April.

2018 marked the 25th anniversary of Hoosier Park and Trace Tetrick picked up his fifth consecutive driving title. He brought home 309 winners to earn his seventh overall title at the venue, and he ranks as Hoosier Park’s all-time leading driver.

The trainer’s title has been something of a two-horse race in recent times. After tying with trainer Jamie Macomber for the leading trainer title in 2017, Jeff Cullipher took the next step and secured the 2018 leading trainer title outright. He ended the campaign with 199 winners, just ahead of the 196 saddled by Macomber.

Twinspires.com is fully backing the Hoosier Park meeting with a bevy of top-notch promotions. Listed below are the promotions dedicated to the Hoosier faithful.

  • The Bet Back Promotion for opening weekend – Opt in now to get your Bet Back on every race if your horse finishes second or third!
  • Hi-5 promo – Each race day in April you can earn your share of a weekly $1,000 bonus at Hoosier Park when you play the Hoosier Hi-5! Want to earn even more bonus cash? Just wager $25 into the Hoosier Hi-5 10 days in April to split an additional $1,000!
  • Gait Insurance – Get your Win bet refunded if your horse breaks stride and loses the race! That’s right, we’ll refund your wager if your horse breaks stride at any time during the race and loses!
  • Exotics Winsurance – Every Thursday you can unlock Winsurance on all your exotic wagers at Hoosier Park! Just wager $50 into the guaranteed Pick 4 pool to get 25 percent back on ALL your losing exotic wagers!
  • High Rollers Club – Earn $50 a day in April at Hoosier Park! Each day you wager at least $1,000, you’ll earn a $50 bonus! With 19 race days on the calendar, you can earn $950 in bonus cash, but if you bet at least $1,000 every day we’ll throw in an additional $50!
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Santa Anita stakes Spot Plays for 2019 Beholder Mile Day

Four graded stakes races will be contested at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, with a pair of Grade 1 tilts among them. I have a few horses of interest to me in the marquee events.

RACE 5: FRANK E. KILROE MILE (G1)

A compact but excellent field of six will go in the grassy event. River Boyne (#6) (5-2) is six-for-seven on the Santa Anita turf, with his lone setback coming on a good course last out. The Jeff Mullins trainee has tactical speed in a race with no pace, and he figures to get a perfect trip under Rafael Bejarano.

RACE 6: SAN CARLOS STAKES (G2)

St. Joe Bay (#4) (5-1) missed by a head in the 2018 edition of this race at huge odds and is worth a long look once again. The John Sadler trainee comes in fresh for a solid layoff barn, and he looks like the one to catch early on in a field without an abundance of early foot. Victor Espinoza gets the nod atop the seven-year-old.

RACE 7: SANTA ANA STAKES (G3)

Fillies and mares will travel 10 furlongs on the grass course in this affair. Zaffinah (#7) (4-1) ran what I thought was a strong third in the Megahertz Stakes (G3) behind Vasilika most recently. The Jack Carava trainee has a versatile running style, and I think she will endure the 1 1/4-mile trip from off the pace against a questionable cast.

RACE 9: BEHOLDER MILE (G1)

An ultra-talented group of fillies and mares will contest the co-feature in a challenging handicapping assignment. I could have gone a few ways in the affair but for value I will give Mopotism (#7) (6-1) top billing. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the Uncle Mo mare has run some sneaky good races at the top level, and two of her main rivals in this spot are question marks at two turns. The five-year-old bay should get a robust pace in which to rally.

PHOTO: River Boyne and jockey Flavien Prat win the Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) on December 26, 2018, at Santa Anita Park © BENOIT PHOTO

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