Santa Anita September Stakes Day Picks with Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
We've already looked at the three Grade 1 stakes Belmont has on offer on Saturday. That's an amazing card, but it can't hold a candle to the crazy card Santa Anita has on that day with five Grade 1s. Santa Anita is a shortish drive from Del Mar where the Breeders' Cup is, so many horses are there already to get ready for racing's biggest day. Sadly, we aren't seeing the race we could - Arrogate, Gun Runner, Collected and West Coast are all at the track but not racing until the Classic. There is still a great card here. It starts with the Zenyatta, a prep for the Distaff. Then it's the Chandelier for two-year-old fillies, followed by the FrontRunner for juvenile colts. The Rodeo Drive is for fillies and mares on the turf, and then the card is closes out with the Awesome Again, a Classic prep. Here's a quick look at how the races shape up:
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This race is on a ridiculous streak of excellence lately. Zenyatta won it from 2008-2010 when it was the Lady's Secret. She won the Distaff in 2008 and the Classic in 2009. Beholder won it three times from 2013 to 2015, and won her first of two Distaff's, and second of three Breeders' Cup races, in 2013. And 2015's three-year-old filly champion Stellar Wind won the race last year. This year just six horses are entered, but it is a very talented field.
Favorite Paradise Woods (6/5) has disappointed in her last two, but she has fired three straight bullet workouts at Santa Anita, so she is certainly ready to run here. Bob Baffert's Faithfully (5/2) has only one graded stakes race to her credit - a third this summer at Del Mar. I only see value for her in the bottom of exotics. Shenandoah Queen (5/1) is making her graded stakes debut, and it just feels like too much to ask at this price. And Motown Lady (6/1) is similarly lightly raced at the top levels. I'm not crazy about the price, but I don't see how to avoid picking Paradise Woods given how much she obviously likes this track right now.
The great Songbird won this race in 2015 en route to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies win and her first of two straight championships. And she's just the latest of many greats to come out of this race. This year eight look to follow in their hoofprints, with four having the best shot.
Moonshine Memories (2/1) has won both of her starts and is very well bred. She's been working well, too. Legitimate favorite, but not my pick. Piedi Bianchi (5/2) was second to Moonshine Memories last time out. I am not crazy about this horse - the breeding isn't as strong as some, and she has just one win in three starts. No value at this price. Just a Smidge (7/2) is my pick. She was lousy last time out, finishing fifth behind the two favorites here, but she has worked well. Mostly, though, it's the connections - Bob Baffert has won this race 10 times, Mike Smith has four wins, and together in major stakes they are very tough to beat. Alluring Star (4/1) is the other Baffert horse, with Joe Talamo aboard. This is her stakes debut, so it's tough to get too excited.
Some horse named American Pharoah won this race three years ago and went on to do a thing or two of note on the track afterward. Derby winner Nyquist won it the next year, and Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley won it last year. This race is very important right now. There are nine horses entered, and three will get the bulk of the attention from bettors.
Bolt d'Oro (2/1) is unbeaten in two races. I wasn't happy with his last workout at Santa Anita, though, so he might not like this track as much as Del Mar. I'll pass on him here. Zatter (5/2) is a Baffert colt out of the great Baffert champion Midnight Lute. He was second behind Bolt d'Oro last time out, and I think we could see him run shorter in the future. I'm going with Solomini (4/1), the other Baffert horse. He has run only once, breaking his maiden at the start of the month. He's raw, but I love the breeding - a son of Curlin with excellent damside blood - and he has worked well at Santa Anita.
This Filly and Mare Turf prep hasn't had nearly the star power of the other races here. It's frankly not that interesting of a race. Ten horses are entered, with two standing out. Goodyearforroses (5/2) won her first two this year then lost some sharpness. She was given the summer off and came back with a solid effort at the beginning of September. She should be sharper here and is certainly capable. A worthy favorite, though not one that will cause me to throw my wallet wide open. Avenge (3/1) won this race last year and was third in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She has run only twice this year, though, and hasn't looked near her best. At this price I can't get excited.
Mucho Macho Man won this race on his way to winning the Classic in 2013, but more often lately this race has set us up for Classic disappointments - California Chrome last year, Shared Belief in 2014, and Game On Dude in 2011 and 2012 all fell short of expectations in the biggest of races. This year, as we said at the outset, the best horses in the division are at Santa Anita but sitting out this race. The seven-horse field doesn't lack for intrigue, though.
Bob Baffert already has a ridiculously deep pool of contenders for the Classic with Arrogate, Collected and West Coast. And he has two more here that could be a big part of the equation at Del Mar with a big effort here. Cupid (2/1) has won both his starts this year, including the Gold Cup here at Santa Anita in May, and his comeback race after a layoff at the start of the month. He's very talented and is my pick as the class of the field despite the uninspiring price. And Mubtaahij (4/1) has just joined the Baffert stable after a long career with star South African trainer Michael de Kock. He hasn't run since finishing fourth in this year's Dubai World Cup and will be getting a very different style of training now, so it's tough to know what to expect. I like how he is training, though, and am intrigued. Midnight Storm (3/1) is the top non-Baffert runner. He was third in the Breeders' Cup Mile last year but hasn't been impressive since a win on new year's day, and he doesn't seem in the ideal spot here. I'll pass on him at the price. Breaking Lucky (5/1) won the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown in 2015. He has run in eight American graded stakes races, though, and has nothing more than two seconds to show for it. I just don't think he's good enough, though he's useful in exotics on the bottom end. I'm a sucker for Curlin Rules (6/1) because his dad is an all-time favorite of mine, but he was fifth in July of 2016 in his only graded stakes appearance and seems to be over his head.
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