Santa Anita Spot Plays in FrontRunner, Chandelier, and Rodeo Drive
Saturday is Breeders' Cup Challenge Saturday at Santa Anita and that means that five Grade 1 events with $300,000 purses are on tap at "The Great Race Place" as part of opening weekend at the 19-day autumn meeting.
The ladies get the "Win and You're In" action going in the Zenyatta (G1), but that is a race that I will avoid wagering on given the short morning line prices on my top two picks on my Brisnet Daily Selections available here.
The Awesome Again (G1) towards the end of the card also is a race that I will avoid wagering on due to a likely short priced winner that I cannot trust enough to back as the favorite.
However, the other three graded stakes events on the 11-race card have horses that I find worthy of "living and dying" with on the first of five Saturday's this fall at Santa Anita.
Race 7: Chandelier (G1)
#2 Moonshine Memories is the deserving 2-1-morning line favorite in the two-turn event for two-year-old fillies run over the main track off of her win in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) on closing weekend in San Diego County. However, I think she will have things a bit tougher as she goes a route of ground for the first time.
#8 Just a Smidge put in a "clunker" in her initial effort versus winners in the aforementioned Debutante, but I am convinced the impressive maiden winner on Opening Day at Del Mar is much better than what we saw earlier this month.
The daughter of Into Mischief enters Saturday off of two solid works over this racetrack for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and draws favorably to the outside in this field of eight. The 8-hole should allow the Kentucky-bred filly to stay clear of traffic and stalk the early pacesetters. The presence of Mike Smith for the first time is an obvious positive considering he and Baffert have connected at 45 percent dating back to the start of 2016.
I give Just a Smidge a huge chance to rebound from her last effort. 7-2 on the morning line seems like a very fair price.
Race 8: FrontRunner (G1)
The young men follow up the two-year-old fillies in the FrontRunner. Overall, the boys have been less impressive to me this summer than the ladies, but it is hard to knock #4 Bolt d'Oro after his first two races for trainer Mick Ruis.
The good-looking son of Medaglia d'Oro sold for $630,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga 2016 sale and has lived up to his price tag thus far.
After an eye-catching victory in his debut, the Ruis Racing colt rallied from off the pace to run down #1 Zatter to capture the Del Mar Futurity (G1). He is the clear one to beat in this spot, but I am slightly concerned about his inability to get out of the gate in good order, as well as Ruis' struggles in route races (2 for his last 36.) At a short price he may be a bit vulnerable.
The most likely to move forward and get the best of the morning line favorite is #8 Solomini. The son of Curlin impressed me with his stalking win on debut at Del Mar when he ran down the eventual runner-up in the lane and won going away for Bob Baffert. The Zayat Stables colt draws well to the outside and should improve going a route of ground.
I expect Flavian Prat to get the jump on Bolt d'Oro on Saturday and he may be good enough to beat him to the wire at a much better price. At 4-1 or higher he is well worth a Win wager.
Race 9: Rodeo Drive (G1)
While I am not willing to take a short price in the Zenyatta and Awesome Again, I am going to eat chalk in the sixth running of the Rodeo Drive (G1).
#10 Goodyearforroses was extremely impressive in her first start since late May in the John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar on September 2. Veteran jockey Corey Nakatani was unable to avoid ground loss into the first turn from her extreme outside draw, but he angled in and worked out a great trip the rest of the way. Unfortunately, the winner Cambodia got the jump on this daughter of Azamour and held off the Richard Baltas trainee in the final furlong.
Not only does Goodyearforroses not face anyone of Cambodia's quality in the Rodeo Drive, but she should move forward in her second start off the layoff. Her last two races likely win on Saturday, but if she continues to progress she handles this field relatively easily. At anything near her 5-2-morning line price I am all in on the Abbondanza Racing mare.
Let's get the meet started off in strong fashion!
Good luck this weekend!
(Goodyearforroses photo: Benoit Photos)