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Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 4:50 PM Pacific (7:50 eastern)

Contenders:

Ginobili has a decent shot to post the upset opening at 12/1 as he moves back to dirt after three turf efforts which were so-so at best. He won impressively at six furlongs two summers ago sprinting at Del Mar then three later in his four year old debut in February, 2020 finished second (beaten under a length) to Nadal in the San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita at seven furlongs. Back on the SA dirt and with a pair of very strong workouts on dirt in the last three weeks, as well as with newly planted Joe Bravo trying to make noise on the Southern California circuit, Ginobili has a much bigger probability to win than his double digit odds suggest.

Wipe the Slate shipped to New York for the Gotham in March and finished seventh, similar to the sixth place effort five weeks earlier in the Robert Lewis. Simply put, he is NOT a router. He ran second sprinting in his debut then won easily at seven furlongs at Santa Anita in December and last out on May 15 he finished third to The Chosen Vron when over matched in the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Stakes. In allowance company where he belongs and with a good post to sit off the likely dueling leaders Palace Coup and Whisky My God, Wipe the Slate has a decent shot to run back to his win six months ago on opening day of the winter-spring meeting at Santa Anita which ends tomorrow.

Ka’nah rounds out the contenders for the top position on the exacta but isn’t nearly as good of a win bet as the other two contenders as he opens at 3 to 1. He’s just one for five and unlike the other two has never competed in a stakes. Like Ginobili he moves back to dirt off a turf race. He won his last dirt sprint, last May, under Smith, who rides here but even repeating the effort he’s no standout although he can certainly win.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Ginobili and Wipe the Slate to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.

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Exacta:

Ginobili, Wipe the Slate and Ka’nah over Ginobili, Wipe the Slate, Ka’nah, Palace Coup, Howbeit and Littlebitamedal

Pick 3s:

Race 8: Ginobili, Wipe the Slate and Ka’nah

Race 9: None Above the Law, Big Talker

Race 10: Fi Fi Pharoah

Race 8: Ginobili, Wipe the Slate, Ka’nah, Palace Coup, Howbeit and Littlebitamedal

Race 9: None Above the Law, Big Talker

Race 10: Fi Fi Pharoah

Pick 4:

Race 8: Ginobili, Wipe the Slate, Ka’nah

Race 9: None Above the Law, Big Talker

Race 10: Fi Fi Pharoah

Race 11: Red King, Ward ‘n Jerry, Acclimate, Pillar Mountain

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Snow Chief Stakes – Race 9 at Santa Anita – Post Time 5:23 PM Pacific (8:23 Eastern)

Big Talker finished third in the May 14 race won by Ferrariano, with Found My Ball second. Big Talker was best in that race in my opinion, as he suffered from traffic issues of epic proportions in the stretch where he had no room and angled in, then out, then in, then out, before rallying strongly but too late. Rispoli was up for the first time in that race and rides back and with a luckier trip he should win this race.

None Above the Law won the nearly identical Silky Sullivan Stakes in April then won the Alcatraz Stakes last month, the latter a stakes an “open” race without restrictions. Back against Cal-Breds only like the Silky Sullivan was, he also gets Prat, who rode him to a win in March. As such, None Above the Law could win his third stakes race in a row. However, opening at 9/5 he offers no value compared to Big Talker, who opens at 4/1, at least as win bets are concerned.

Handicapper Picks

Win bet: Big Talker at odds of 2 to 1 or higher.

Exactas:

Box Big Talker and None Above the Law

Big Talker and None Above the Law over Big Talker, None Above the Law, Found My Ball, Ferrariano, Jimmy Blue Jeans and Cargo

Pick 3

Race 9: None Above the Law, Big Talker

Race 10: Fi Fi Pharoah

Race 11: Red King, Ward ‘n Jerry, Acclimate, Pillar Mountain

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Melair Stakes – Race 10 at Santa Anita – Post Time 5:56 PM Pacific (8:56 Eastern)

Fi Fi Pharoah sticks out here and there may be nothing to do in terms of betting her to win as she opens at 5 to 2 but will be bet down. That’s where the pick 3 and Pick 4 tickets come in as they enable us to extract a lot more value (return for the risk) as compared to win bets. Fi Fi Pharoah is a Cal-Bred daughter of Champion American Pharoah who stretched out to two turns for the first time last out and earned her first win in her fourth career start. Among this group the 89 Equibase Speed Figure stands out and she’s likely to run even better than last month in her second route. Rispoli stays aboard and she should get a dream trip from the three post as both fillies inside of her in the gate are need-the-lead types so she can tuck in on the rail and go around the tiring leaders when needed.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Fi Fi Pharoah at 8 to 5 or more, a true low odds overlay win bet.

Exacta:

Fi Fi Pharoah over Eddie’s New Dream

Trifecta:

Fi Fi Pharoah over ALL over Eddie’s New Dream

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San Juan Capistrano Stakes – Race 11 at Santa Anita – Post Time 6:29 PM Pacific (9:29 Eastern)

Red King, Ward ‘n Jerry, Acclimate and Pillar Mountain can win but that makes up four of the six so we need to be sure we make bets which are only long term profitable. This is another reason the pick 3 and pick 4 are the best value for making money at the end of this sequence.

Of the four, Pillar Mountain is likely the only one worth considering for a win bet as he opens at 6 to 1, although I suspect Ward ‘n Jerry may go up from his 5 to 2 morning line as well. Pillar Mountain won two in a row in Florida under Bravo, who rides here as he shifts his tack perhaps permanently to California. The first of the wins was at a mile and one-half and the other at a mile and three-eighths so I have little doubt the horse can get the mile and three-quarters here. He’s won five of 14 lifetime and better still 4 of 12 on the turf and he was claimed out of his last win by Hess for a measly $35K compared to the $60K winner’s share of the purse. His best races are every bit as good as the other three and compared to Acclimate, who hasn’t won since September, 2019, and compared to Red King, who hasn’t won since last August, Pillar Mountain is in exceptional recent form.

Ward ‘n Jerry won the similar San Luis Rey Stakes on this course at 12 furlongs in March 2020, then lost six in a row, but has won two straight since. Prat was up for both as well as the San Luis Rey win and stays aboard and this veteran has won eight of 24 turf races for over $450K so has what it takes to win if in the mood.

As usual, Acclimate will be the one to catch and may not be caught, but as mentioned previously it’s been a long time since his last win and since he won this race two years ago. Similarly, Red King won this race last year then the Del Mar Handicap last summer but hasn’t really threatened to win in four races since, none with any excuse either.

Handicapper Picks

Win bets: Pillar Mountain and Ward ‘n Jerry if 3 to 1 or more.

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