Handicapping Santa Anita's Late Pick 4
California Chrome and Klimt are among the stars on hand at Santa Anita Saturday, towering over the competition in the Awesome Again (G1) and FrontRunner (G1), respectively. The Breeders’ Cup prep races kick off a string of six straight stakes but are not part of the Late Pick 4.
Three of the four races – Rodeo Drive (G1), Chandelier (G1) and Unzip Me – came up extremely contentious in the Late Pick 4 and the Zenyatta (G1) features a compelling match-up between Beholder and Stellar Wind.
Here are my thoughts on the sequence:
Inscrutable was my first thought when perusing the 14-horse field for Race 8, the Rodeo Drive at 1 ¼ miles on turf. As far as price players, Real Smart (#5) and Decked Out (#11) will be running late and offer some appeal at double-digit morning line odds. Zipsessa (#12) and Sobradora Inc (#14) are serious contenders, and I will spread eight-deep on one ticket.
Winner of the last two editions of the 1 1/16-mile Zenyatta, Beholder (#2) will be a single on many tickets in Race 9. However, Stellar Wind (#5) was able to pin her rival inside when employing stalk-and-pounce tactics in the Clement Hirsch (G1) and draws favorably once again, with Beholder having to deal with another speed horse (Vale Dori) to her immediate inside in the starting gate. Stellar Wind is too dangerous to leave out.
Twelve juvenile fillies will contest Race 10, the 1 1/16-mile Chandelier, including three of the top four finishers from the September 3 Del Mar Debutante (G1). But I like the chances of a couple fillies stepping up to try graded company, Zappercat (#4) and Bitzka (#6). The Richard Baltas-trained Zappercat turned in a spectacular debut at Del Mar August 20, registering a 90 BRIS Speed rating while rallying to win going away by 5 ¼ lengths, and the daughter of Ghostzapper should appreciate the added ground. Bitzka earned a field-best 91 Speed rating capturing the Barretts Debutante at Los Alamitos, improving to 2-for-2 after being claimed from an impressive 4 ½-length decision over $62,500 maiden claiming foes at Del Mar. Trainer John Sadler wins at a 21% first-time route and the unbeaten filly is bred for two turns as a daughter of Tiago and out of a Thunder Gulch mare.
Debutante runner-up American Cleopatra (#5) and the speedy With Honors (#1), who tries the main track after a couple of nice turf scores at Del Mar, will be used on back-up tickets.
A full field of 12 3-year-old fillies is set for Race 11, the Unzip Me on the downhill turf course, and I like the inside fillies, Tourny (#1) and Corps de Ballet (#2). Tourny was bet down to 3-5 in her U.S. bow and finished a good second in her first start in 12 months. Sadler has worked the Group 1-placed French import six times in the 45-day interim, including a recent half-mile bullet, and Tourny can continue to show more. Corps de Ballet likes the dimension of the unique about 6 ½-furlong course, posting both wins down the hill, and will be reunited with Tyler Baze, who was up for the previous wins. The Speightstown filly gained valuable fitness in a pair of one-mile race at Del Mar and appears poised to deliver her best today.
Coppa (#12) should take to turf (dam has produced three turf winners) and looms as a prominent front-end presence. Great Page (#11) is a candidate to fire in her U.S. debut for Jerry Hollendorfer and Miss Katie Mae (#7) ships in in good form for Graham Motion and will be running late with Flavien Prat. All three will be used on a back-up ticket.
I’ll play three .50-cent Pick 4 tickets in Races 8-11 ($72 total):
4,5,7,10,11,12,13,14 with 2,5 with 4,6 with 1,2 ($32)
5,11,12,14 with 2,5 with 1,5 with 1,2 ($16)
5,11,12,14 with 2,5 with 4,6 with 7,11,12 ($24)
And here is a ticket for a smaller budget:
5,11,12,14 with 2,5 with 1,4,5,6 with 1,2 ($32)