Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, December 30, 2017
Santa Anita Park
The first Saturday of the 2017-18 meet at Santa Anita Park is a strong one! They’ve got three stakes races: the Robert Frankel, the Midnight Lute, and the American Oaks. First post time is 12:30 PM PST.
To help you out with all the action, we’re happy to have Robert Criscola (@itsgood2beking) providing FREE picks & analysis of the card! Robert’s been a Southern California handicapper on Danonymous Racing for a while now; be sure to give him a follow on twitter.
The Grade I American Oaks anchors a stakes tripleheader at Santa Anita this Saturday. There are nine races in all, with first post scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Let’s dive in!
Race 1: 12-5-9
#12 BUNNY YOGURT draws a favorable outside post as she gets back to the downhill course. She was rolling late but had to settle for fifth in her debut at Santa Anita before faltering in a one-mile heat at Del Mar. Her Dec. 13 works suggests she’ll run back to, or possibly improve on, her unveiling. That would give her a good shot at a square price. #5 PROUD HEROINE sheds blinkers after setting a meteoric pace and fading late last time out. The surface switch and move to Irad Ortiz Jr. should help her as well. #9 HIMMAH has shown some hanging tendencies overseas but stands to benefit moving to a firm course today.
Race 2: 1-4-6
#1 PEACE was unlucky to lose by a head last time after dueling for the lead three-wide most of the way. He’s drilled well for his second attempt around two turns. #4 RESTORING HOPE rallied boldly to miss by just a nose in his six-furlong debut at Los Al earlier this month; should make his presence felt again. #6 MIDNIGHT SOOT didn’t care for the grass last time out but has hit the board in both dirt starts to date.
Race 3: 5-6-9
#5 DAD’S A GAMBLER rallied well to be second off a layoff last month; the extra 1/16th aids his cause today. #6 DEVILS INFORMER should have more to offer late with the rust shaken off. #9 TRUE RANGER can pick off the tired ones in the stretch. #4 PUNDY might go off favored (thanks to his connections) despite not finishing within shouting distance of the winner in three straight. He’ll probably either cruise to victory or finish last but is the type of horse I’ll never bet.
Race 4: 6-1-3-4
The Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes
#6 RESPONSIBLEFORLOVE is a wild card worth going with in this wide-open event. She’s proven her mettle at this level but cuts back significantly, which may or may not work out depending on the kind of trip she gets. The pace scenario is unclear; she may go to the lead as she’s done in the past or concede to someone like #2 MIDNIGHT CROSSING. Hopefully Talamo keeps RESPONSIBLEFORLOVE close and enables her to flaunt her class in the lane. #1 PENJADE is 4-for-5 this year but lost in her only graded stake try. The speed figures aren’t overwhelming but Brown usually picks his spots well when shipping here. #3 LASEEN and #4 ELYSEA’S WORLD, a combined 0-for-17 this year, are best used underneath.
Race 5: 3-6-10
#3 CHARLIE COWDEN’s best efforts have come in sprints; he’s hit the board in two tries, the most recent coming despite a troubled trip in his last race at Los Al. Switching to Bejarano doesn’t hurt either. #6 MOON JUICE tries a new low and gets a rider upgrade to Pedroza; consider. #10 RIDGEFIELD ROCKET is the best of the rest.
Race 6: 5-10-3-4
#5 BEAUMARCHAIS has won four straight but takes a big step up in class today. However, he should be able to make the lead and could get brave once more. #10 SHEER FLATTERY has just missed in spots like this two straight times, running his record to 0-for-7 on the year; prefer underneath. #3 FOR GREATER GLORY and #4 CAMINO DE ESTRELLA add intrigue to a race that’s extremely difficult to get a read on.
Race 7: 8-4-1
The Grade I American Oaks
#8 RYMSKA is 3-for-3 this year and was visually impressive in Aqueduct’s Winter Memories Stakes last time out. She stands to benefit from the added distance she gets today, so she should be very tough to hold off here. #4 DADDYS LITTLE DARLING has suffered two straight narrow defeats in stakes, dropping her 2017 record to 1-for-8. However, her convincing score in the Dueling Grounds Oaks at a similar distance three-back makes her a reasonable alternative to the top choice. #1 MADAM DANCEALOT was a little flat in the QEII Challenge Cup last time out but offers value as she gets a rider upgrade to Nakatani and adds ground. She was very good at Del Mar over the summer.
Race 8: 8-4-5-7
The Grade III Midnight Lute Stakes
#8 CALCULATOR should be better-prepared for this start than he was for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint off the bench and projects to get a very fast pace to close into. Castellano sees fit to take the assignment. #4 MASOCHISTIC hasn’t been seen since Kentucky Derby day, when he quit over a wet Churchill strip. Layoffs are not unusual for him, and Baffert takes over his training. MASOCHISTIC is also unbeaten at 6.5 furlongs (4-for-4). The lone knock (and a big one at that) is the potential pace scenario, as he may get cooked early. #5 AMERICANIZE is one rival that will likely give MASOCHISTIC a hard time up front. He was an impressive gate-to-wire winner in the Damascus Stakes two-back but left a lot to be desired in his graded stakes bow, the Cigar Mile, when last seen. #7 TOUGH SUNDAY is another speed type that is eligible to improve off his comeback race going five furlongs on turf. He was third in this race a year ago.
Race 9: 13-10-12-1
#13 BANZE NO OESTE has won twice and placed another time in three recent starts at this level. He should get a fair pace to rally into, but the post (assuming he draws in off the AE list) is a concern. BANZE NO OESTE gets a tepid nod in another puzzling heat to close things out. #10 AIRLITE has won two straight while racing up front, with one coming over this course and distance against a similar field that featured a next-out winner. #12 LEWIS VALE has run well when gifted the lead in New York turf races but will be tested early here; difficult to toss. #1 SOUTH AMERICAIN lures Irad Ortiz; should roll late off the class drop.
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