Shapiro’s Big ‘Cap Day Late Pick 4 analysis

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TwinSpires Staff

March 9th, 2018

by Scott Shapiro

The Santa Anita Handicap (G1) may not be what quite what it used to be, but Big ‘Cap Day still offers horseplayers a Saturday full of high quality competitive racing that includes four graded stakes events.

The return of World Approval in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and the battle between Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie in the San Felipe (G2) will allow us to build our bankrolls for a challenging and potentially lucrative late Pick 4.

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The sequence begins with the $75,000 China Doll, includes the 81st running of the Santa Anita Handicap and concludes with a 12-horse maiden special weight group on the lawn. What more could one ask for?

Here are my thoughts on the sequence.

Race 8

The 15th running of the China Doll Stakes drew a field of 12 three-year-old fillies led by lukewarm 7-2 morning-line favorite Californiagoldrush (#4).

The daughter of Cape Blanco has done nothing wrong so far and retains the services of jockey Flavian Prat, who was able to work out a perfect trip in this gal’s win versus high-level optional claimers last out. A similar voyage gives her a huge shot to make it three in a row to start her career.

I made Californiagoldrush my choice for second, but my top pick goes to Ms Bad Behavior (#1).

The daughter of Blame has been a new horse since trainer Richard Baltas moved her to the lawn in January. She has yet to try a route of ground, but she should have no issues with the increased distance based on pedigree. Look for Kent Desormeaux to get the jump on Califonriagoldrush and have enough late to get the job done.

Race 9

The second leg of the late Pick 4 is a conditional claimer 6 1/2 furlongs over the main track.

Liberty Jack (#12) looks tough to beat in this spot.

The son of Munnings came with an impressive late run for the level two back to break his maiden, then was overmatched against starter allowance foes on February 10. Trainer William Morey has had an amazing meet and spots his gelding to win in this $12,500 claiming event. I love the fact that apprentice Evin Roman gets back onboard after not riding this four-year-old last out.

Race 10

The quality of the Santa Anita Handicap has certainly decreased of late with the emergence of the Pegasus World Cup (G!) in January and, of course, the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) later this month, but that does not make this year’s rendition any easier to handicap.

The eight-horse field may not contain the game’s biggest stars, but it offers handicappers a very challenging analytical puzzle as the third leg of the late Pick 4.

Accelerate (#7) is the deserving 5-2-morning-line favorite based on his last two efforts in graded races over this surface, but his ability to get 1 1/4 miles remains a major question mark. I will take my shot against the Hronis Racing runner and hope to catch a price.

Prime Attraction (#2) and Mubtaahij (#8) interest me most, but spread as deep as you can in the 2018 Big ‘Cap.

Race 11

The finale is a nine-furlong maiden special weight event over the Santa Anita sod.

I am against Pacific Strike (#3) in this spot. She lacks early speed and has shown little explosion in four starts for trainer Peter Eurton. I will pass at 7-2 on the morning line.

Fluffhead (#11) is an intriguing price option in this spot for trainer Robert Falcone Jr. The young conditioner has had his horses ready to run in his first winter at Santa Anita, evidenced by his five-for-13 record. This filly broke slowly and raced against the flow in her debut, but retains Flavian Prat and should improve immensely with the racing experience under her belt.

I also give serious looks to the more logical Hope Wins (#1) and Rancor (#5).

Heaven Escape (#2) is likely to get overlooked in the wagering. She could outrun her odds for trainer Paulo Lobo.

Here is how I will play the Saturday afternoon Pick 4:

Ticket 1: ($.50 Pick 4)
Race 8: 1
Race 9: 1+5+9+10+11+12
Race 10: 1+2+6+8
Race 11: 1+2+5+11
Ticket Cost: $48

Ticket 2: ($.50 Pick 4)
Race 8: 1+2+4+7+9
Race 9: 12
Race 10: 1+2+6+8
Race 11: 1+2+5+11
Ticket Cost: $40

Ticket 3: ($1 Pick 4)
Race 8: 1+4
Race 9: 12
Race 10: 2+6+8
Race 11: 1+5+11
Ticket Cost: $18


Good luck at the windows!