Santa Anita Opening Day Dec. 26 Picks

Profile Picture: D.S. Williamson

D.S. Williamson

December 22nd, 2017

Opening Day at Santa Anita is this Tuesday on Dec. 26. Four graded races take place on opening day. It's likely that I bet on every single one of these races via my BetAmerica account. I won't waver from the picks I make today to when I put my wagers in on Tuesday morning.

These are the horses I believe win the four graded races on opening day at the Great Race Place. Every video posted is from each race's 2016 winner. Check it out!


Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes

Last year's winner, Hoppertunity, shows up this year. Why not? Hoppertunity has made over $4.3 million dollars during his career. This could be his swan song. On Jan. 1, Hoppertunity turns 7. Bob Baffert's other horse in this, Collected, is at 3/5 on the morning line. There's no way I take the short odds on Collected. I also can't back Accelerate at 5/1. His run in the BC Dirt Mile was down right pathetic.

Who do I like? I'm going with Prime Attraction. The four-year-old colt sired by Unbridled's Song freaked in the Grade 3 Native Diver. I'll give him a shot in a race where Collected figures to be prepping for the Pegasus World Cup.

1. Prime Attraction

2. Collected

3. Top of the Game

Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Stakes

Big Score figures to go off a huge underlay in the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Stakes the Day after Christmas. The Tim Yakteen trainee should go off as the chalk. Why? There are bigger knocks against Big Score's competition.

With that being written, I'm looking towards Colonist to get the job done. The connections are stellar. Jerry Hollendorfer trains. One of the best grass riders in America, Corey Nakatani, rides. Big Score and Bowie's Hero put a beat down on Colonist in the Del Mar Derby. No worries.

The Mathis Brother's Mile is only his third race on grass. I think he improves big time.

1. Colonist

2. Big Score

3. Kroy

Grade 1 La Brea Stakes

On the surface, it sure appears as if the Grade 1 La Brea on Dec. 26 will be a battle between the Jerry Hollendorfer trained Unique Bella and 8/5 morning line favorite Paradise Woods. I've got knocks against both. I'm not sure if Unique Bella is all that formidable anymore. She missed most of 2017 with an injury. Paradise Woods probably wants to go longer than 7 furlongs. My guess, is that Papa Mandella is using the La Brea as a prep for a longer race down the road.

I actually feel that the race sets up for Grade 2 Raven Run winner Miss Sunset. Trained by Jeff Bonde, Miss Sunset hasn't run since Oct. 11. Before the Raven Run victory, she was a straight speedball, even getting a half-mile in a 6 furlong stakes race at Del Mar in :44.4.

In the Raven Run, Miss Sunset switched it up. She settled behind the pace before exploding late. Her Brisnet LP (late pace) in the race was a nice 101. That gives jockey Julien Leparoux options in this race. He could attempt to run with Unique Bella, Princess Karen, and Paradise Woods. Or, Julien could hang back a bit.

1. Miss Sunset

2. Princess Karen

3. Paradise Woods

Grade 1 Malibu Stakes

The deepest race on the card might be the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes. The Malibu showcases some heavy hitters like Pavel, Dabster, CZ Rocket, Favorable Outcome, and Irish Freedom. The odds makers don't believe Irish Freedom's 109 Brisnet speed rating that he posted in the Grade 3 Native Diver is legit. I believe it's legit.

With Irish Freedom, Baffert might have his next, great, four-year-old colt. West Coast will get the hype in 2018. Irish Freedom, a son of Pioneerof the Nile, could turn out to be the best in Bob's barn. He's definitely the one I'm going with on top.

1. Irish Freedom

2. Dabster

3. CZ Rocket