Doubles the way to play Santa Anita on Saturday
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
Saturday's card at Santa Anita is far from exceptional, but includes the San Luis Rey (G2) as well as a few opportunities to pad our bankroll as we head into the heart of the spring racing calendar.
With a few heavy favorites sprinkled throughout the card likely to prevent a massive Pick 5 or late Pick 4 payout, a horizontal player is probably best served using the majority of their Saturday budget in a different manner.
Doubles are often forgotten, but are always worth serious consideration. They have a lower takeout rate in California than the Pick 3 and Pick 4 and are a great way to combine multiple strong opinions. Saturday seems like the perfect day to use Doubles as my primary wagering option.
There are several two-race sequences that are playable, but the start and the end of the card is where I find my strongest opinions given both confidence and value.
With a single in the first and a vulnerable favorite in the second, Race 1 is a perfect place to commence. A $25,000 open claimer run at about 6 1/2 furlongs down Santa Anita's hillside turf course gets things rolling.
#2 Unusual Fleet is my top choice in here and a horse I will wager on to start the day. The six-year-old gelding comes back quickly after a solid third place effort in a race void of early speed over this course. The Richard Baltas runner has performed well on short rest before and stands out against a group that has had virtually no success over the unique configuration. This time the pace should be honest and with a good trip this son of Unusual Heat should get the day started in formful fashion.
The second race is not quite so straightforward. 7-5-morning line favorite #4 Summertimemischief is a filly that has had her chances. The Kathy Walsh trainee has failed to hit the wire first in nine tries over different courses and distances. Recently, she has failed twice at less than 2-1 including a distant third place effort going two turns last time out. The daughter of Into Mischief does not face any world-beaters in here, but she has faced equally poor groups before. She is definitely worth taking a shot against in this spot.
#2 Canned Heat is my top choice in here for Vladimir Cerin. The lightly-raced five-year-old was part of a hot pace in her first start off the layoff last time out and had little left in the lane. She should move forward with a less contentious pace and a 2017 start under her belt. I will also include #3 Righteous Dixie. This Trappe Shot filly has been slow from the gate over her first 3 starts but with a clean break should run by this field late.
My other spot play will come at the tail end of Saturday's card.
The eighth is an optional claimer run at one mile over the main track. #1 Giant Influence is the 3-1-morning line favorite off of a strong maiden win last time out. However, that victory came in a race washed off the turf and at one turn so expecting a similar result on Saturday may be unwise.
I will try to beat Giant Influence with California-bred #2 Indygo Holiday. This Sean McCarthy gelding returns to a realistic level after being soundly defeated in the Tiznow Stakes last time out. A clean trip from just off the pace will make him tough to beat.
The finale is the aforementioned San Luis Rey. This ten-furlong turf event drew a full field headlined by #4 Ashleyluvssugar. I respect this son of Game Plan quite a bit and will include, but also give a big look to #10 Itsinthepost. This French-bred has been ultra consistent and has performed quite well since moving into stakes competition in 2017. Tyler Baze should find a good spot towards the front early and hopefully hold off the closers in the final eighth of a mile.
Here are my Saturday afternoon wagers:
$25 Daily Double 2 with 2+4 = $50
$25 Daily Double 2 with 4+10 = $50
Total budget = $100