Shapiro's Pick 4 analysis for Santa Anita's Breeders' Cup preview day

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TwinSpires Staff

September 29th, 2017

by Scott Shapiro

Five Breeders’ Cup spots are on the line on Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita Park, starting with the Zenyatta Stakes (G1) featuring Santa Anita Oaks (G1) winner Paradise Woods in Race 5 and concluding with the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) featuring Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1) victor Cupid in Race 10.

“The Great Race Place” offers horseplayers a Pick 4 sequence over the final four races of the day. The four-race slate commences with the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) and concludes with a wide-open rendition of the $70,000 Unzip Me Stakes for three-year-old fillies.

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

As often is the case on big days there is a solid chance of logical runners finding the wire first, so my advice is to avoid spreading too deep and instead attempt to hit it on a concentrated ticket. If you want to invest more try to connect multiple times.

Here are my condensed thoughts on Races 8 through 11, and my suggested ticket for Saturday’s Late Pick 4.

Race 8

The $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes gets things started. The race won in 2014 by eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and in 2015 by the next year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist appears to be a three-horse race on paper.

My top pick is Solomini (#8). The son of Curlin stalked the pace in his first start at Del Mar going 6 1/2 furlongs and ran down a solid pacesetter in Bahamian in impressive fashion. He should improve on the stretch out to two turns and draws well to the outside, which should allow jockey Flavian Prat to once again stalk the early leaders and get first run on morning-line favorite Bolt d’Oro (#4).

The top two finishes in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) are the other two that have significant chances to get their picture taken.

Bolt d’Oro enters the FrontRunner a perfect two-for-two and is hard to knock. However, trainer Mick Ruis has struggled when sending horses a route of ground and this one has been unable to get out of the gate in good order. He can win, but the price is too short for me to get excited about.

Zatter (#1) ran huge in the Del Mar Futurity, but needs to prove to me he can get two turns. He draws the rail after two outside voyages in his first two starts, so is all but certain to be sent from the gates. I will let him beat me as the likely second choice.

Race 9

I am all in on Goodyearforroses (#10) in the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1).

The Irish-bred mare was wide into the first turn, but got a great ride from veteran Corey Nakatani in her first start off the bench in the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) at Del Mar. She ran huge, but could not get to Cambodia in the final furlong.

Her last two efforts are likely good enough to win this and I think she is capable of moving forward over a turf course she has two wins and a second over in three starts. She should handle this group and earn a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) in November.

Her price will be relatively short, but she looks extremely tough to beat.

Race 10

The top two older males in this division are training up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), so the Awesome Again Stakes came up lighter than many had hoped. Despite Hall of Famer Bob Baffert leaving Arrogate and Collected in the barn, he has the two most likely winners on Saturday.

Cupid (#8) looks tough to beat in his second start of the form cycle. He was likely not at a hundred percent in winning the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar in August. He draws to the outside in this field of eight and should get a perfect trip under jockey Rafael Bejarano.

Mubtaahij (#6) is the wild card in the Awesome Again. The five-year-old has not raced since a fourth-place effort in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) in late March. He gets blinkers for the first time and reportedly has been training incredibly well. Normally I would want to see one off the bench, but Baffert is deadly off the layoff, so I will include him in his first ever start at Santa Anita Park.

Race 11

The Unzip Me Stakes appears by far the most wide-open of the four races in the late Pick 4. I will include several to close things out.

Tapped (#4) should love the one-turn configuration in her first start for trainer Richard Baltas. She gets blinkers and Mike Smith after two off-the-board efforts at Del Mar.

Kenda (#3) has run all of her best races down the hill. She will need to avoid traffic trouble from her inside post, but I trust Flavian Prat to do so.

Storm the Hill (#5) has a win and a third down the hill. She gets a rider upgrade to Corey Nakatani and should relish the turn back to one turn on Saturday afternoon.

Take a Deep Breath (#1) makes her first start in Southern California for Glen Hill Farm and Tom Proctor. She will need to move forward to win this, but 15-1 on the line for these connections makes her worth including.

Spin Me a Kiss (#9) has won two in a row, three of her last four, and draws well towards the outside for trainer Phil D’Amato. She is not my top choice, but would not surprise.

Miss Southern Miss (#11) has a win in her only start over the turf. Kent Desormeaux should have her in a good spot when they turn for home.

Here is how I will play the late Pick 4:

Ticket 1: ($2 Pick 4)

Race 8: 4+8
Race 9: 10
Race 10: 6+8
Race 11: 1+3+4+5+9+11

Ticket Cost: $48

Good luck at the windows!