Hanson: Stakes spot plays for Oaklawn, Santa Anita on March 13
The Rebel (G2) and Beholder Mile (G1) are the feature events of this Saturday's stakes action, but for wagering purposes we'll be eyeing some of the other stakes on the respective Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita undercards.
Essex H. -- Oaklawn Park Race 7 (4:08 p.m. ET)
#7 NIGHT OPS (3-1) was most likely in need of a race when a non-threatening third behind #5 Silver State in the Jan. 23 Fifth Season S. Winner of this race last year, the Fifth Season marked his first outing since an authoritative victory in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. (G3) on July 5. Both published works in March have been fairly sharp, including a bullet five furlongs last week, and the five-year-old could be sitting on a better performance for Brad Cox.
Temperence Hill S. -- Oaklawn Park Race 9 (5:13 p.m. ET)
#10 CAMPAIGN (7-2) is another making his second start back from an extended layoff. In his case he did little more than get some afternoon exercise when distantly trailing throughout the Feb. 6 Thunder Road (G3), a one-mile grass event. The rest of his past performance lines show that he's strictly a marathon type who should appreciate the step back up to 1 1/2 miles here. Although a bit of a deep closer, he took to this track well when narrowly missing in the inaugural running of this event last March as the favorite.
Sadler barn has been cold this meet, which is something to keep in mind, but at least his price should be significantly higher than the 3-2 on offer in last year's renewal.
Hot Springs S. -- Oaklawn Park Race 10 (5:45 p.m. ET)
The belief that Sadler will heat up extends to selecting #2 FLAGSTAFF (9-2) as well. The Grade 2 veteran was favored in the King Cotton S. last month but broke a little tardily over a sloppy track and wound up only fourth behind #1 Boldor. The addition of blinkers here will hopefully correct the slow starts that have occurred in both local starts, and he wasn't far behind eventual champion and likely favorite #6 Whitmore in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) last spring.
Whitmore, now eight, wasn't always consistent last season and perhaps is worth trying to beat at short odds as he attempts to win this race for the fifth consecutive year.
San Simeon S. (G3) -- Santa Anita Race 7 (6:46 p.m. ET)
His credentials as a sprinter aren't really known as his only race at less than a mile was over the hillside turf course (he finished second in his debut), but #3 BOB AND JACKIE (4-1) is worth considering off second-place runs in the San Gabriel (G2) and Thunder Road (G3) going longer. With quicker rivals in here, he likely reverts to stalking tactics in this six-furlong dash, and hopefully he can produce the necessary kick in the lane to wear down the speed while holding other off-the-pace types at bay.