Keeler Johnson's Post-Breeders' Cup Santa Anita Spot Plays

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 1st, 2018

If the Breeders’ Cup has you in the mood for playing the races and you find that you’re not ready to call it quits at the end of the Saturday card, never fear—there’s plenty more memorable racing on Sunday, including a nice card at Santa Anita that features two graded stakes races.

After looking over the day’s events, I’ve come up with a few spot plays to consider, including a filly with a chance to upset more heralded rivals and trigger a solid payoff. Let’s dig in!

Race 4 (Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes): #8 Fahan Mura

#8 Fahan Mura couldn’t quite hold off #1 Vasilika and #3 Cambodia while traveling nine furlongs in the John C. Mabee Stakes (gr. II), but this very fast daughter of English Channel might be able to turn the tables while cutting back to a mile. Last time out, Fahan Mura won the one-mile Swingtime Stakes at Santa Anita after posting blazing fractions of :44.75 and 1:08.25, an effort that brought her record over the Santa Anita turf course to a perfect 5-for-5. She should offer a nice price in this competitive field, and she might just forget to stop in the final furlong.

Race 8 (Grade 2 Twilight Derby): #8 River Boyne

I think you can argue that #8 River Boyne moved too soon in the Del Mar Derby (gr. II) last time out, as he tracked a steady pace early on and took the lead in the homestretch, only to flatten out late and finish third in a race dominated by closers. Previously, this Jeff Mullins-trained colt had made a name for himself with three impressive stakes victories at Santa Anita and Del Mar, including a late-running score in the La Jolla Handicap (gr. III). If River Boyne returns to his typical closing tactics, I think he’ll extend his record at Santa Anita to a perfect 5-for-5 and win the Twilight Derby.

Race 10 (Maiden Special Weight): #8 Leader of Men

This one-mile turf maiden race for three-year-olds doesn’t appear to have drawn the toughest field, so perhaps the first-time starter #8 Leader of Men can take advantage. A well-bred son of War Front out of the graded stakes-placed mare Refugee, Leader of Men is a half-brother to the Grade 1 winners Executiveprivilege and Hoppertunity, but with War Front as his sire, Leader of Men figures to handle the grass just fine. His work tab isn’t overly eye-catching, but he’s been breezing steadily since the end of July, and trainer Simon Callaghan wins at a solid 15% rate with debut runners. If Leader of Men has a fraction of the talent possessed by his two high-class half-siblings, he should win this race.

Good luck!