Looking back at Santa Anita March 30-April 2

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TwinSpires Staff

April 5th, 2017

By Scott Shapiro

A big week is coming up in Arcadia, California as the final West Coast prep for the 2017 “Run for the Roses” headlines what should be a great card at Santa Anita Park.

Before we get to the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the other stakes action slated for Saturday afternoon, let’s take a look back at how last week went at “The Great Race Place.”

It was a subpar week for the Daily Selections on as I hit on 10 of my 35 top selections. 28.6% can certainly be productive if there are several double-digit winners included, but unfortunately I only came through with one horse that paid more than $10 on a $2 wager.

The “Best Bets” over the four-day period connected at a 75% clip, but with win payouts of $3, $2.20 and $3.60, wagering on my most likely winners barely produced a profit. That being said, my 48.1% (13 of 27) over my first five weeks certainly has been a moneymaking endeavor thus far.

The lack of double-digit winners over the past few weeks was a bit alarming, so I decided to dive a bit deeper into the races that did produce horses hitting the wire first at a price over 4-1 to see if any trends could be discovered.

Out of the 35 races run at Santa Anita Park last week (March 30th to April 2nd) only 7 races produced horses that resulted in a win price greater than $10.

It was not surprising but is still worth noting that none of those winners came in a field with less than 8 participants and 4 of the 7 came in races run over the turf. More striking was that only three of them came in races that were included in the takeout friendly Players’ Pick Five and that only one came on Thursday or Friday.

Thirty five races is far from a significant sample so with this data in mind I dove back into the prior week (March 23rd to March 26th) to see if this was a trend worth following or just a fluke. It turned out that there was 8 winners paying more than $10 during that four-day span.

While field sizes of 8 or less did produce 3 of those double-digit runners, half of them came in races run over the lawn. Additionally, half of them came on a chaotic Saturday afternoon and only 3 of them on Thursday and Friday. The same number of 3 occurred within the Players’ Pick Five sequences conducted over the first five races of every Santa Anita card.

Most handicappers are aware they are more likely to find a price horse in a full field or in a turf race regardless of venue. However, two other things seemed a bit more unique to the current landscape at Santa Anita Park.

Firstly, the majority of competitive racing is being run during the latter half of the card making my favorite wager, the Pick 5, less than an ideal way to attack a card of late.

Secondly, the weekday cards in Arcadia have become increasingly difficult to get excited about unless you are willing to take short prices.

It will be interesting to continue to follow these trends as we head deeper into the spring, but for now I am making a concerted effort to modify how I wager on cards at Santa Anita, especially on Thursday and Friday.

Stay tuned into Brisnet and TwinSpires this week as I dive into Saturday’s card with a “How to Wager on the Santa Anita Derby” and an analysis of the late Pick 4. Also, there is a Pick Six carryover of $133,546 worth getting involved in on Thursday. 

Scott Shapiro is a Southern California-based handicapper. Follow him on Twitter @ScottShap34