Shapiro: Santa Anita's Late Pick 4 on Saturday worth hitting multiple times
After winning a desperate photo in the finale and cashing in on one of my late Pick 4 tickets to the tune of $849.35 on a 50-cent wager, I am back with another analysis of the final four races of the Saturday card at Santa Anita.
The size of the fields last weekend justified playing several tickets and spreading a bit around my top choices, but that is not the case this week.
With a three-horse field in the co-featured Beholder Mile (G1) and the likelihood of at least a couple short-priced winners, it is important to limit the combinations and try to hit it several times instead.
Here are my thoughts on the four races:
The first leg of the sequence is an optional claimer for three years old and upward run at six furlongs over the main track. #3 Quality Line is listed as the 9-5-morning line favorite and is the likeliest winner of this sprint since he is coming out of the best races and has run the fastest. However, he was all out to get by a 67-1 shot in his maiden breaking performance last month and now takes on winners for the first time. I will include the Lucky Charm Stable gelding, but also have interest in a few others that will provide better value.
#1 Scatter the Moon made a nice middle move and won in his debut at Turf Paradise in April, #4 Tanners Pride broke through the maiden ranks when dropped into take on claimers for the first time and #6 Derby Music drops in class and goes turf-to-dirt for trainer Ruben Gomez. All three have a chance to spring the upset in a tricky race.
Race 7 - Shoemaker Mile (G1)
The 74th running of the Shoemaker Mile is the race I look forward to most on Saturday. It offers a solid value of turf veterans competing for a purse of $400,000.
I am expecting #1 Heart to Heart, #2 What A View and # 5 Free Rose to battle early on in this event setting things up for two rivals that come from off the pace.
#3 Bal a Bali had a less than perfect voyage in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs. He returns home to a course he has won two-of-six over and cuts back to one mile, a distance he is seven-for-12 over in his outstanding career. Mike Smith jumps aboard the Brazilian champion who should be ready for a big effort for Hall of Fame conditioner Richard Mandella.
#4 Farhaan made an impressive late run to beat a Grade 3 field in the Thunder Road in late April. The Matthew Schera-owned son of Jazil has done little wrong since entering the Phil D'Amato barn earlier this year. D'Amato gets a rider upgrade as he legs up Flavian Prat for the first time on Saturday afternoon. He should be rolling late.
Race 8 - Beholder Mile (G1)
The co-featured $400,000 event contested over the main track was reduced to a compact group of three after the scratches of long shots #3 Show Stealer and #5 Faithfully on Friday morning. Despite the small field., the trio does provide racing fans with two Eclipse Award winners and a Bob Baffert runner coming in on a six-race win streak.
I would love to be creative in this one, but I cannot get past #2 Stellar Wind. The five-year-old mare is well rested since an impressive win in the Apple Blossom (G1) to start her 2017. She gets back to a racetrack she has won four of six over with her lone out of the money effort coming after an awkward start in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1). She draws outside of her main rival #1 Vale Dori and should be able to dispose of her in the lane.
The finale is an open company maiden special weight event run down the hillside turf course.
I will toss the 2-1-morning line favorite #4 Tina's Exchange. The four-year-old gelding has tactical speed that always puts him in a good spot, but he is hard to relax and has struggled to finish with energy. I think he's vulnerable, and I'll use two horses instead of the morning line chalk.
#3 Conquest Smartee may go off the favorite when all is said and done. He just missed in his first start down the hill in March, trainer John Sadler has given him some time off, and he has trained forwardly for his second try in Southern California. He should save ground early and be rolling late.
I will also include #8 Bucky's Pick. This three-year-old colt performed well while on the lead going two turns at odds of 16-1. He hit the wire third, but was disqualified and placed sixth. He draws well for his first try down the hill, will get the jump on Conquest Smartee and provide better value.
Here is how I will wager on the late Pick 4:
$5 Pick 4
1+3+4+6 with 3+4 with 2 with 3+8 = $80
(Bal a Bali photo: Benoit Photos)