Shapiro’s Late Pick 4 analysis for Robert B. Lewis Day at Santa Anita Park

Profile Picture:

TwinSpires Staff

February 2nd, 2018

Itsinthepost captured the San Gabriel to kick off his six-year-old campaign on January 6 (c) Benoit Photos

by Scott Shapiro

A foursome of graded stakes events headlines a strong Saturday afternoon card at “The Great Race Place.”

The Palos Verdes (G2), featuring Twin Spires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) champion Roy H, as well as the Robert B. Lewis (G3), with 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points going to the victor, come earlier in the card. However, the San Marcos (G2) on the lawn and San Pasqual (G2) over the main track comprise half of the races included in Saturday’s late Pick 4.

Click for Scott Shapiro's full card Daily Selections each and every day for the Southern California circuit

Here are my thoughts on Races 6 through 9:

Race 6

The four-race sequence commences with a competitive non-winners of two event run at one mile over the Santa Anita dirt.

The top two choices on odds-maker John White’s morning line both appear in with major chances. Mercer Island (#3) is taking a massive drop in class for trainer Peter Miller, while Moonlight Blue (#8) rediscovered his form last out in a similar spot for Vladimir Cerin. Neither will surprise.

Reverned Al (#2) appears to be the best value option in the 6TH. This Harris Farms homebred was well backed in his first start off a two-month freshening on January 15, but a poor break and racing against the flow led to a better-than-looks fifth-place finish. Trainer Blake Heap stretches him out to a route of ground for the initial time on Saturday. If the son of Lucky Pulpit can avoid another slow start and takes to the increased distance there is no reason the Cal-bred cannot spring the upset.

Race 7

The second leg of the late Pick 4 is the 66th running of the $200,000 San Marcos.

The 1 1/4-mile event over the Santa Anita sod features 9-5-morning-line favorite Itsinthepost (#5). The French-bred handled a similar group last out in the San Gabriel (G2) despite racing at a shorter distance than what he prefers. With a clean voyage he should be very tough to beat stretching out to 1 1/4 miles in a race he ran second in last year for trainer Jeff Mullins.

The favorite is the clear one to beat, but if he fails to fire, or Tyler Baze gets him into an uncomfortable spot early, perhaps Free Rose (#2) can spring the upset for trainer Richard Baltas. These connections have won big two-turn turf races with double-digit prices over the past couple of years in Southern California and can do so again if this son of Munnings can get back to his three-year-old form.

Race 8

The second of the two graded events included in Saturday’s late Pick 4 is up next.

The San Pasqual drew a competitive group of older handicap horses going 1 1/8 miles over the main track.

My top choice in this group is Top of the Game (#9). This son of Desert Party is a perfect four-for-four over this surface and draws well to the outside for trainer Vladimir Cerin. The conditioner’s decision to scratch out of the San Antonio (G2) on opening day backfired when his gelding ran dead last in the San Gabriel over the turf. If this five-year-old can get back to his form on the dirt over the past year and a half he should be able to get the best of this group.

If Top of the Game is tailing off, Prime Attraction (#8) and Pavel (#1) make for intriguing backup options.

Prime Attraction regressed significantly last time off a career-best performance in the Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar. The lack of speed signed on and his form at the end of 2017 make him worth including.

Pavel disappointed as my top choice in the Malibu (G1), but trainer Doug O’Neill stretches him back out to two turns on Saturday. His best races put him right in the mix with this bunch.

Race 9

The finale is a wide-open optional claiming event run down the hillside turf course.

Bowie (#11), Del Mar Ann (#10) and Gone to Town (#1) are my top choices in here, but I lack a strong opinion to close the day. I recommend using several if your budget allows you to do so.

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

Ticket 1: ($.50 Pick 4)
Race 6: 2+3+8
Race 7: 2+5
Race 8: 1+8+9
Race 9: 1+10+11
Ticket Cost: $27

Ticket 2: ($.50 Pick 4)
Race 6: 2
Race 7: 2+5
Race 8: 1+8+9
Race 9: 1+2+3+5+8+9+10+11
Ticket Cost: $24

Ticket 3: ($2 Pick 4)
Race 6: 2+3+8
Race 7: 5
Race 8: 9
Race 9: 1+10+11
Ticket Cost: $18


Good luck at the windows!