Shapiro: Upset possibilities this weekend at Santa Anita
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
Lots of sports fans spent the last several days trying to uncover a double-digit seed in the NCAA tournament good enough to get through the weekend into the Sweet 16. There is no doubt that I have watched my share of hoops over the last couple of days, but I also spent plenty of time searching for horses that could spring an upset this weekend at Santa Anita Park.
I may not have uncovered an underdog quite like the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, but here are a few runners that could help make it a profitable weekend at “The Great Race Place.”
A conditional claimer at a mile over the turf gets things started in the Pick 6.
#4 Miner’s Light drops in class and cuts back in distance after a sixth-place effort in his first start since arriving in the Peter Miller barn. The son of Mineshaft has just 1 win in 10 lifetime tries, but should get an honest pace to set up his late kick on Saturday afternoon.
Look for jockey Drayden Van Dyke to angle in and save ground early and come with a strong run when they turn for home. At his 5-1 morning line price or higher the five-year-old gelding is worth a shot to pick them up late and get back to the winners’ circle for the first time since last May.
#9 Yes I’m Ready has reportedly worked like a good thing in the mornings for trainer Art Sherman, but the son of Yes It’s True has been unable to transfer that to success in the afternoons. Sherman dropped the three-year-old in for a tag for the initial time last month, but he still failed to finish with solid energy disappointing his backers as the 3-2-choice.
Since that last race, Yes I’m Ready has been gelded and now attracts the services of veteran jockey Corey Nakatani for the first time. He draws favorably towards the outside and should be able to relax a bit as Sherman takes the blinkers off after experimenting with them over his past two starts.
Yes I’m Ready has burnt his share of money over his first 4 starts, but I am willing to give him one more shot at 12-1 on the line in hopes that the rider upgrade and the equipment change make the difference.
This optional claimer at 6 1/2 panels appears to be ripe for an upset.
#4 Tina’s Exchange is the 5-2-morning line favorite based on four runner-up finishes and a maiden win in 5 tries, but he is far from a cinch.
#3 Stringent may need a race off the bench, but he is in with a big chance if ready to fire fresh for veteran conditioner David Hofmans. The son of Lemon Drop Kid had a solid first half of 2017 despite failing to find the winners’ circle in five starts, but tailed off in the summer and has not been seen since.
The six-year-old gelding attracts the services of hot riding apprentice Franklin Ceballos and is dangerous if the young jock can relax his mount just off the early pace. At 5-1 on the line I am willing to gamble that Stringent can rediscover his past form and get the job done in the second leg of the late Pick 4.
Race 8: The Santa Ana (G2)
The featured $200,000 event conducted over the Santa Anita sod definitely goes through Slam Dunk Racing’s #1 Madame Dancelaot. The four-year-old makes her second start off the bench for trainer Richard Baltas after a fifth-place effort last time out in the Buena Vista (G2). She likely needed her last when beaten just two lengths and is the most likely winner in Sunday’s feature. However, I prefer the value of #3 Laseen.
The seven-year-old mare has been competitive with graded stakes turf routers in the past and now gets a massive rider upgrade to veteran Kent Desormeaux after less than ideal voyages sprinkled throughout her last 12 races for veteran conditioner James Cassidy. If Desormeaux can avoid traffic issues he has a huge shot to hit the board at 8 to 1 and can spring the upset if Madame Dancealot fails to move forward with the race in 2018 under her belt.
I will bet Laseen to win at 8-1 or higher and play exotics with her and Madame Dancealot on top.
Good luck this weekend!
You can find my full card Daily Selections every day for the Southern California circuit here: