Santa Anita: Exotics Plays for the 2023 Kona Gold Stakes

April 20th, 2023

A compact field of six will vie 6 1/2 furlongs over the Santa Anita main course in Saturday’s $100,000 Kona Gold S. (G3). The heat is led by defending champion #4 Brickyard Ride (6-5) from the barn of Craig Lewis, and while the fleet chestnut will likely be a short price at post time, I will still key him on top and try to make my money in the vertical exotics.

Brickyard Ride is among the swiftest horses from the gate in training and has led at both the first and second calls of at least 10 races in succession. By Clubhouse Ride, the six-year-old finished a solid third after leading into the lane in the recent San Simeon S. (G3) on turf while making his first run since May.

The California-bred returns to the dirt for his second run off the break, and I believe that he will overpower this cast on the front end on Saturday. The nine-time local victor has posted a quartet of solid morning drills in advance of this dash and retains the services of regular pilot Juan Hernandez.

Conditioner Doug O’Neill has the two main dangers to the favorite, in my opinion, including #1 Anarchist (5-2). By Distorted Humor, the four-year-old arrived in this barn for the 2023 season and has been runner-up in each of his trio of outings for these connections, including the San Simeon S. (G3) in his turf debut most recently.

The improving colt will be fit with a handful of morning moves leading up to this event, and I expect him to sit a nice trip from off the pace while saving ground to the top of the lane. Ramon Vazquez has the assignment.

The dual stakes-placed #5 Positivity (6-1) has not been seen since racing in Dubai in the winter of 2022 and could be any kind in his first showing since. The Paynter gelding flashed plenty of potential at this venue in the past with a 4-2-1-0 local line, which includes a second-place result to the top pick in the 2022 California Cup Sprint S. The bay five-year-old has shown the ability to fire while coming in fresh and rates an obvious top-three chance with Tiago Pereira inheriting the ride.

Kona Gold Exotics Wagers

  • $30 trifecta: 4 with 1 with 5 ($30)
  • $12 trifecta: 4 with 5 with 1 ($12)