How to bet the 2023 Santa Monica Stakes

February 1st, 2023

A six-pack of fillies and mares will travel seven-eighths on the Santa Anita dirt in Saturdayโ€™s $200,000 Santa Monica S. (G2). The race lacks a clear-cut front runner, and I think that whichever contender takes the edge out of the gate will have a chance to lead at every call.

The Peter Miller-trained #3 Samurai Charm is not the most talented contender in the cast, and she is winless from four assignments at Santa Anita in her career, but I still feel that the six-year-old is worth a shot with Flavien Prat in the silks. By First Samurai, the dark bay mare has been in solid form with two wins from three tries since cutting back to sprint races, with her lone setback occurring when an even fourth in the Las Flores S. (G3) at six panels here last time out.

Samurai Charm stretches out to seven furlongs on Saturday and comes in with a recent bullet morning drill to signal her readiness for this affair. While not overly consistent, she has won half her 14 lifetime races, and the six-year-old has posted some of her best results when gaining the early edge.

I will use a pair of other horses in the field with the aforementioned top selection, led by La Brea S. (G1) heroine #2 Fun to Dream. Trained by Bob Baffert, the gray Cal-bred is once-beaten in her six-race career, which includes a sterling three-for-three line at The Great Race Place. The Arrogate four-year-old has trained in swift fashion following her biggest triumph to date and looms a menacing figure with regular pilot Juan Hernandez.

#5 Awake At Midnyte, a closing runner-up in the La Brea, has been first or second in each of her four attempts on the course and wouldnโ€™t be a surprise for conditioner Doug Oโ€™Neill. The Nyquist chestnut has been working very well on the training track at the venue as of late and has the tactical presence to stay in touch with the leaders from the opening bell. Regular rider Mario Gutierrez will ride the five-time graded stakes placed filly.

Santa Monica Wagers

  • $15 win and place: #3 Samurai Charm ($30)
  • $5 exacta: key box 3 with 2, 5 ($20)