Key Bets & Races for Saturday, December 26

Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes – Race 6 at Santa Anita– Post 5:40 PM Eastern Time (2:40 PT)

Kroy gets the rail for this mile trip, as well as Javier Castellano, for a relatively unknown trainer in California but one who is well known all over the east coast, with 50 wins in 250 races this year. Kroy won three in a row in July, August and September, before a 3/4 length defeat last month, the last 3 starts all in stakes and with 3 of the four earning him 106, 107 and 109 Equibase figures which are stakes quality, ALL coming since Blinkers were added. Kroy can run on the lead or from off the pace and with this top jock in the saddle is likely to be in the thick of the action from start to finish. Harbour Master is ready for these as 2 of his last 3 races have been the best of his career. He finished 4th to older three back, then 2nd, then first and although Desormeaux gets off to ride Bowies Hero, Espinoza getting on is not a negative one bit. B Squared is 2 for 3 on grass, the first of the two in April at this mile trip and the 2nd in a downhill sprint trip over the course in October. Both wins came in Cal-Bred stakes races but the last of the pair earned him a 116 Equibase figure and we can ignore his most recent race when completely overmatched and facing older in the BC Sprint. Back against 3 year olds and back on turf he deserves a great deal of respect as a win contender.



Bet Kroy to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.

Bet Harbor Master and/or B Squared to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.

(To make multiple win bets and insure the best profit, use a “dutching” tool like the one at Amwager to allocated the amount of win bets in the best way)


Play an exacta key box consisting of Kroy with ALL. (This is the same as Kroy over ALL and then also ALL over Kroy)


Pick 3:

Race 6 – Kroy, Harbour Master, B Squared

Race 7– Marley’s Freedom, Faypien, Paradise Woods, Unique Bella

Race 8 – Pavel, Favorable Outcome, Edwards Going Left, Irish Freedom



La Brea Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita – Post time 6:15 Eastern Time (3:15 Pacific Time)

We’re getting 20/1 on Castellano on a horse on an improving pattern who hasn’t peaked yet and I just can’t pass that up, particularly noting the upsets in the BC races four of these come out of in which favorites disappointed badly. Marley’s Freedom changed barns between her first two races, last fall, and her 9/4 start, which she won nicely, before a big effort when beaten a neck with a 107 Equibase figure and then a strong win last month by 4 1/2 lengths with a 110 figure. To put that into perspective, when Unique Bella won her comeback from 7 months off in October (the L.A. Woman Stakes) she earned a 110 figure and when Paradise Woods won the Zenyatta Stakes on 9/30 she earned a 111 figure. Unique Bella opens at 9/5 here and Paradise Woods opens at 8/5 here, both having run in Breeders’ Cup Races in their most recent starts, but Marley’s Freedom just won in a first level allowance so there is a perceived difference in class that explains the difference in odds. However, there is NO difference in how fast any of the three can run if they repeat their best efforts and so Marley’s’ Freedom is a key longshot bet on the card. Unique Bella and Paradise Woods can both win by repeating their efforts before the BC so have to be used on exotic wagers and multi-race wagers. Faypien opens very hard to ignore for a 2nd win bet, at 6/1, as she’s been 1st or 2nd in five of six including winning the Summertime Oaks over the track in June and finished 2nd in the Test Stakes at Saratoga this summer. She runs well fresh, has been working great, and should be right there at the finish once again.


Bet Marley’s Freedom to win at 4 to 1 or more.

Bet Faypien to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.


Play an exacta box consisting of Marley’s Freedom, Unique Bella, Paradise Woods and Faypien


Malibu Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post time 6:48 Eastern Time (3:48 Pacific Time)

Pavel moves back to 3 year olds only off a big 3rd in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and a horrible effort in the BC Classic. He won his only sprint powerfully and should love the cut back in distance and change in company, with the 110 figure effort earned winning the Smarty Jones Stakes in September against his own age group good enough to win here if repeated. Favorable Outcome ships in from New York for the barn of North American leading trainer Brown, off a trio of improving efforts with 97, 104 and 115 figures. Castellano rides as he did for the colt’s win in the Swale Stakes at this trip last winter and the colt appears capable of taking another step forward so could easily be formidable here. Edwards Going Left is a Cal-Bred who, with the exception of a 6th place finish on 10/7, has run three huge races in a row, all sprints, including a win in the Statebred restricted Cary Grant stakes last month with a career best 112 figure. He has a good late kick and should run a lot better than his 8 to 1 odds suggest he will. Irish Freedom is one of a pair from the Baffert barn, the other Dabster, this colt very likely to appreciate the cut back in distance from 9 furlongs to 7 furlongs. He finished well for 2nd in the Native Dancer Stakes last month and the jockey change to Smith certainly helps his chances to improve off that effort.


Bet Pavel to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Consider a second win bet on Favorable Outcome, Edwards Going Left or Irish Freedom at 3 to 1 or more.


Play an exacta box and a trifecta box consisting of Pavel, Favorable Outcome, Edwards Going Left and Irish Freedom

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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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