Heading out to The Great Race Place today, on what appears to be a gorgeous day? Well, I happen to believe Santa Anita is offering a better deal today than any savings rate you’re gonna get at Bank of America … yeah, a little more risky, but hey … why not take a few risks in this lifetime? And a word to the wise — never wager what you can’t afford to lose because no matter what you hear from anyone who gives you a tip, there are four or five other people giving out tips on different horses in the same race.
So, down to business. Here’s who I like today on a card that appears to be offering some nice price plays:
First — PHILO BEDDOE goes for a trainer, Gary Stute, who is having a great meet. He’s tied for fifth in the trainer standings with 11 wins, and remember, this guy has only eight horses in his barn. The 3-year-old colt should improve second time out, but you need a better price than the 5-2 he debuted with. MR. EXCESSIVE is a speed play who, if he defies the anti-speed track bias, could go wire to wire. You need better than 3-1.
Second — SELF INSURED flashed brief early speed against better on Feb. 10 and I look for him to go back to his usual late-running tactics and close in the stretch today. He’s live. DAWN’S EARLY SKY is another dropper from the Mel Stute barn who gets the services of the comebacking Corey Nakatani, one of the best turf riders in the game.
Fourth — Trainer Robert Bean doesn’t win often, but he’s got perhaps today’s top long-shot play here in HOT GRIP, who will be closing in the stretch for Chantal Sutherland, a jockey who is enjoying a fine meet until she heads home to Canada for the Woodbine meet in April. Hot Grip will go postward at better than 20-1 and is a definite across-the-board play.
Fifth — JAMES THE THIRD should be rolling in the final eighth of a mile with Gerry Olguin in the saddle. Forget the fact Garrett Gomez does not retain the mount because Garrett is in Louisiana to ride in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Olguin figures to only help the price. If he goes postward at better than 10-1, play him across the board.
Sixth — BONDI BABE and AMERICA’S STARLETT are the plays here. Bondi Babe may go off at too short a price, but you should get close to 20-1 or more on America’s Starlett, which makes the 3-year-old filly an automatic play across the board. There is an interesting trip horse in here — SUZICUTIE, who could have won last time with a better journey. Keep an eye out on that one as well.
Seventh — Rafael Bejarano gets the mount on the Mike Mitchell-trained MONZANTE, who was 4-wide into the stretch in the Grade II Strub Stakes on Feb. 2. The 4-year-old gelding is going to be tough to beat in this spot. SMOOTH AND SAVVY is a decent long shot here.
Eighth — Julio Canani sends out WHIMSICAL MISS in a spot where she could find the winner’s circle for Joe Talamo. Watch the odds, though. Don’t take anything less than 3-1 on this filly.
Ninth — GOLDEN DOC A has the talent and class to follow up her Grade I win in the Las Virgenes on Feb. 9 with another in the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks. This would have been a great race if the ailing Country Star and Indian Blessing were here. Indian Blessing is running in the Fair Grounds Oaks today in Louisiana.
Tenth — Let’s end the day with a nice long shot — I’LL PREY FOR YOU, who should go to the gate at better than 10-1. Play him across the board and key him in exactas to BITTER BILL AND EXCEEDING.
Good luck today!!!