Shapiro: How to bet the Late Pick 4 on Santa Anita’s opening day

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TwinSpires Staff

December 26th, 2017

by Scott Shapiro

Santa Anita Park has made some modifications to their wagering menu as we head into the start of the winter meeting, but the late Pick 4 will still be offered to horseplayers over the final four races of the day.

The Opening Day sequence commences with the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile in Race 6, includes both the Grade 1 La Brea and the Grade 1 Malibu, and features a guaranteed pool of $1 million on Tuesday afternoon.

Here are my thoughts on the four races and how I plan to attack the day after Christmas festivities:

Race 6

The aforementioned $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile run at eight furlongs over the Santa Anita lawn gets things rolling.

#8 Big Score is the 5-2-morning line favorite off of three straight underneath performances in two-turn graded stakes races over the past few months for trainer Tim Yakteen. The son of Mr. Big has consistently run his race in 2017 with his only off the board finish occurring in the mile and a quarter Grade 1 Belmont Derby in New York in July.

The George Krikorian homebred appears the clear one to beat based on resume and his past performances, but I am concerned with his lack of victories this year. He has failed to hit the wire first in six consecutive races, including a third place effort in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in late November.

I respect Big Score’s resume and his chances of running a big race on Tuesday, but not enough to single him in the late Pick 4.

#1 Kroy ships in from Florida for trainer Armando De la cerda off of a three-quarter of a length defeat in a non-graded stakes event at Gulfstream Park West in early November. Prior to that near miss the son of The Factor used his tactical speed to rattle off three straight victories at Gulfstream Park. He attracts the services of Javier Castellano and is dangerous if left alone on the front end.

#2 B Squared has done his best running versus Cal-breds, but he is an intriguing wild card contender for trainer Doug O’Neill. He stretches back out to a route of ground after failing to factor in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. I will include.

#6 Holiday Stone has not won from 10 starts in 2017, but should sit a perfect stalking trip under jockey Rafael Bejarano. His inability to get his picture taken this year is a concern, but 8-1 on the line alleviates the pain.

Race 7

The seventh is the co-featured La Brea. The seven furlong event for three-year-old fillies features four-time graded stakes winner #3 Unique Bella and 2017 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) and Zenyatta Stakes (G1) winner #7 Paradise Woods.

For my thoughts on How to Wager on the La Brea:

Race 8

The second of the two Grade 1 events on the Opening Day card is the seven-furlong Malibu.

The Malibu did not attract the same big names as the La Brea this year, but it is a wide-open rendition featuring several ways for Southern California horseplayers to go.

The seven-furlong affair appears light on early zip, so those that find themselves prominently placed should have a tactical advantage.

#6 Pavel was overmatched in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar against the likes of Gun Runner, Collected and West Coast, but he should find this challenge much more to his liking. The son of Creative Cause takes on fellow three-year-olds in the Malibu and should find himself in a perfect stalking spot under jockey Mario Gutierrez.

The Reddam Racing colt has won his only race sprinting over the Santa Anita main track and comes into his sixth lifetime start off of three solid works, including a five- furlong drill in 1:00.1 on December 11th. If he recovers from the pummeling he took in the Classic he should get the jump on his main rivals and have enough late to hang on the final furlong. He is my top choice.

#9 C Z Rocket ships in from Kentucky a perfect 3 for 3 for trainer Albert Stall, but may be up against it given the lack of front-runners entered in the Malibu. He has been able to overcome his inability to get out of the gates with the rest of the field thus far, but spotting this group too many lengths would be problematic.

#4 Favorable Outcome exits a monster effort versus high-level optional claimers at Aqueduct in late November. He does not possess much early speed either, but should be closer to the early pace than C Z Rocket. At 3-1 on odds maker John White’s morning line he is not a horse I have interest in wagering on, but if Javier Castellano can keep him within shouting distance on the backstretch he could be peaking at the right time. 

#1 City of Light is all but certain to be alone on the lead for trainer Michael McCarthy. The son of Quality Road has shown talent through his first four races, but needs to run a career best to be competitive in this spot. However, he may be capable of doing so though if jockey Drayden Van Dyke can set moderate early fractions.

#2 Edwards Gone Left moves up into the graded stakes ranks after two straight wins this fall for trainer John Sadler. His current form and price make him an attractive long shot option despite the class hike.

#3 Irish Freedom probably prefers more ground than he gets in the Malibu, but the Bob Baffert trainee cuts back to one turn after a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Native Diver. Mike Smith takes over riding duties for the initial time on Tuesday on a colt that has yet to win in three tries at Santa Anita Park.

Race 9

An optional claimer run at one mile over the sod closes things out on an outstanding Opening Day card.

#11 Lazaam has hit the board in all eight of his 2017 starts, but has just one win to show for it. The four-year-old gelding has consistently come with a strong run, but has failed to do enough to get to the wire first. His 2-for-21 record with 10 runner-up efforts makes him worth taking a shot against in the finale.

#5 Spanish Hombre is the other top choice on the line and merits strong consideration. The Kentucky bred has won 2 of his last 4 and projects to sit a nice stalking trip under Rafael Bejarano.

I will include Spanish Hombre as well as other runners that will offer greater value to close the day.

Ticket 1

Race 6:



Race 7:



Race 8:



Race 9 :



Ticket Cost:






Ticket 2

Race 6:



Race 7:



Race 8:



Race 9 :



Ticket Cost:






Total Budget: $108

Good luck on Opening Day and Happy Holidays!

You can find my full card Daily Selections each and every day for the Southern California circuit here: