Player Quick Pick: Santa Anita for 1/31/2015

Profile Picture: D.S. Williamson

D.S. Williamson

January 31st, 2015

Three graded stakes races are on tap at Santa Anita on Saturday, January 31, including the Grade 1 Las Virgenes. The race that looks like one on which horseplayers should key in on might be the Grade 2 Palos Verdes, Race 6 on the card. There could be a horse in the Grade 2 sprint that could keep his morning line odds if not drift higher.

Santa Anita Park Race 6 – 6:05 pm ET

G2 Palos Verdes Stakes for 4&Up going 6f

3-Conquest Two Step – 4/1 – The second place finisher in the Grade 1 Malibu to Shared Belief, Conquest Two Step had to steady at the 5/8ths in that race, but still came on to lose by only a neck. What’s impressive is that the pace wasn’t all that crazy fast in the Malibu. Chitu got the first quarter in 23 seconds. The half was in 45 flat. Fast?  Yes, but not overly fast for a Grade 1 over the Santa Anita dirt. Conquest Two Step had a blistering 5 furlong work in 58 seconds on Jan. 23, just 8 days ago, meaning that he should be on his toes for this. Jockey Joe Talamo has been aboard for the past 5 races and trainer Mark Casse is winning at 19%. There is more than enough speed with Distinctiv Passion, Big Macher and Secret Circle signed on to set things up for the son of Two Step Salsa.

1 –Distinctiv Passion – 2/1 - Look, he ran a half mile in 42.4 seconds, six furlongs in 1:07.3, and still won the Grade 3, 6.5 furlong Midnight Lute by 1.75 lengths. The horse is the fastest sprinter in the country to the half-mile pole, no doubt. The difference with today is that Conquest Two Step is all about pace. The horse closes into fast paces, meaning that even if nobody goes after Distinctiv Passion early, or nobody else in the race can hang with him, Conquest Two Step is going to close no matter what. The Jeff Bonde trained, Mike Smith ridden, five-year-old horse will get the lead and Mike will be on the engine since he breaks from post-position one. Another win is not out of the question, but the fastest sprinter on the West Coast faces the best closing sprinter on the West Coast in the Palos Verdes. What a race!

4-Secret Circle – 5/2 – The Bob Bafffert trainee failed in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute as a .30 cents on the dollar favorite. It should have been expected. The Cigar Mile is one of the toughest, deepest races available in any year. It’s also at a mile. Secret Circle ran second in the Cigar Mile, meaning that bouncing in his very next effort should have been forecasted. He figures to come back big time in this. The thing about the winner of over $2.43 million is that he can press the pace if he needs to, or, if the pace is too hot, he can close from about 2 lengths off. You have to figure jockey Martin Garcia is going to go right after Distinctiv Passion if Big Macher isn’t up to his usual great stuff in the Palos Verdes on Saturday.