Santa Anita stakes plays for Jan. 30

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

January 29th, 2021

A pair of quality graded stakes races headline the Saturday action at Santa Anita. Relatively small fields have been entered for the events, but I still think that there will be value to be had in each endeavor despite siding with the morning-line choice on both occasions.

San Pasqual (G2)

A compact field of five will travel 9 furlongs on the dirt in the $200,000 event. The Richard Baltas-trained #2 Idol (9-5) has done little wrong in his four-race career, and I think that he is poised to be a star in 2021. By Curlin, the $375,000 yearling purchase is a late bloomer who gives the impression of a colt who will be a top handicap horse this campaign.

The bay combines tactical speed with a powerful closing kick, and he is proven on the oval following a smart runner-up showing in the San Antonio (G2) last time out. Kentucky-bred 4-year-old continues to train forwardly, and Gabe Saez coming out to ride is a major positive, as well. Idol will be formidable with his best.

I will play an exacta with the morning-line choice on top of #1 Tizamagician (9-2) for value. Mandela pupil loves the surface, and I really liked the way he battled back after being headed late in a recent allowance tally. With a pair of speed horses to his outside, I am hoping that Van Dyke tucks the improving son of Tiznow on the rail to the turn for home before putting in his closing kick.


  • $30 Exacta: 2 with 1 ($30)

Robert B. Lewis (G3)

An octet of talented sophomores will go postward in the Road to the Kentucky Derby contest. The deep field has numerous viable prospects from top barns in the cast, making it a competitive betting race. #1 Medina Spirit (5-2), one of two in the field for Bob Baffert, ran too well in the recent Sham (G3) to be ignored in this spot. Protonico sophomore was a game runner-up while finishing 13 lengths clear of his nearest foe in his stakes debut, and the Florida-bred has posted two solid morning drills in the interim. 

In addition to the morning-line favorite, I really like #2 Rombauer (8-1) as both a short and long-term prospect for McCarthy. Bay son of Twirling Candy was an excellent second in the American Pharoah (G1) on the course two back, and he didn’t run horribly when fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last time out. Colt has improved his Brisnet Speed number in every lifetime race, and Mike Smith riding adds to the appeal, too.

I have a lot of respect for each contender in the field but will mostly focus on the innermost pair of 3-year-olds on Saturday.


  • $10 Exacta Box: 1-2 ($20)
  • $1 Exacta: 1,2 with all ($14)