Opening-Day Santa Anita Plays

Profile Picture: James Scully

December 23rd, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Thoroughbred racing slows down to a crawl in the days leading up Christmas but that changes Friday, December 26, with the traditional opening of the Santa Anita winter/spring meet.

Shared Belief is the star of the opening-day festivities, attempting to regain his winning ways in the seven-furlong Malibu, and the champion gelding rates as a single in most of my Pick 4 wagers. The sequence is appealing because all four races drew at least 10 runners, with fast and firm conditions expected.

I’ve got a couple of other strong opinions that are both listed at 6-1 on the morning line.

Here’s a look at the final four events on Friday’s program:

Race 6 -- La Brea

An intense speed duel appears likely and I will be playing Thank You Marylou (#3), who exits a third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. She turned the corner when adding blinkers three starts back, registering her first graded stakes tally and triple-digit BRIS Speed rating, and her stalk-and-pounce run style should prove highly-effective. The in-form filly shipped back out west early for trainer Mike Maker, recording a five-furlong bullet work over the track last Sunday.

Wagering strategy: $20 win & place on Thank You Marylou (6-1 morning line) and she’s a single on a couple of Pick 4 tickets below. Jojo Warrior (#10), More Complexity (#6), Stonetastic (#7) and Taris (#1) will also be used in Pick 4s.

Race 7 – Mathis Brothers Mile

Don’t have a strong opinion. Can’t leave Heart to Heart (#7) out but the front-running colt won’t be lone speed in his California debut. Tonito M. (#6) is intriguing at 10-1 on the morning line – improving form and nice turf breeding – and Home Run Kitten (#9) is a must use given his affinity for Santa Anita’s turf and 3-2-0-1 record at the distance.

Wagering strategy: Willing to spread five deep in most Pick 4 tickets, adding Long on Value (#10) and Talco (#12) to the mix.

Race 8 – Malibu

Six furlongs to 1 ¼ miles, Shared Belief has proven extremely versatile and easily superior to the competition when not a victim of interference. He arguably lost all chance when slammed sideways at the start of his lone setback, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and that’s the only reason he’s running here. Shared Belief is clearly the fastest member of this field and will have to show up with less than his best to lose.

Wagering strategy: Shared Belief will be singled on most tickets; the lone saver play will include the Baffert quartet of Chitu (#2), Indianapolis (#3), Pimpernel (#5) and Midnight Hawk (#6).

Race 9 – Turf maiden special weight

Indian Princess makes an anticipated turf debut. By Indian Charlie, a respectable 12% turf sire, the juvenile filly’s female side is geared toward grass racing, with her dam, a daughter of turf sire King of Kings, already producing a pair of winners on sod. And trainer Mike Puype (a 16% overall trainer) is a sensational 21% first-turf from a large sample size. Indian Princess turned in an even effort when making her career bow at Los Alamitos on September 21 and displayed improved tactical speed last time, finishing a good third versus maiden special weight foes on Santa Anita’s main track November 2. She puts it all together today with the surface change.

Wagering strategy: $20 win and $20 place on Indian Princess (6-1 morning line) and she’s a single on a couple of Pick 4 tickets below. Rue de Cry (#1), Scattagirl (#5), Erte (#6), Foolish Ways (#7) and Paulina’s Love (#8) will also be used in Pick 4s.

50-cent Pick 4s

Ticket #1 - $15


Ticket #2 – $12.50


Ticket #3 – $12.50


Ticket #4 -- $15