Santa Anita hosts four graded stakes on Saturday, featuring some of the top horses in training in Southern California. We’ll go over a pair of them here. Don’t forget to put this information to use when playing FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
Santa Anita Race 8 (Post time: 7:00 p.m. EST)
The Grade II San Antonio Stakes (1 1/16th miles on dirt)
#1 HOPPERTUNITY (2-1, morning-line favorite) reunites with Flavien Prat for his 2017 bow. The six-year-old Bob Baffert trainee is largely considered a bridesmaid, but is capable of beating a field like this. The Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup was his biggest win of 2016, but he also won this race last year. He frequently runs speed figures superior to his competition and is training sharply for this; bet with confidence.
#7 ACCELERATE (5-2) is an up-and-coming runner for John Sadler. He had a highly successful tail-end to 2016, winning the Shared Belief Stakes and Los Alamitos Derby before getting up for third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. His effort in last month’s San Pasqual was decent, though he was no match for Midnight Storm in the mud. Tyler Baze has gotten the leg up for all eight of ACCELERATE’s lifetime starts and will be aboard again on Saturday.
The play: $8 exacta 1/7, $2 exacta 7/1 ($10)
Santa Anita Race (Post time: 7:30 p.m. EST)
The Grade II San Marcos Stakes (1 1/4 miles on turf)
#14 FRANK CONVERSATION (6-1) looks best suited to handle this demanding distance under Mario Gutierrez. A repeat of his Twilight Derby effort from last November would be good enough to win this. Of course, the Doug O’Neill trainee may not get the hot pace he had to close into that day again, but it appears as though he wants to go longer much more than some of his main rivals. He’ll have plenty of time to cross over from post 14 before the clubhouse turn; look for him late.
#5 TEXAS RYANO (3-1, morning-line favorite) and Joe Talamo team up as this Carla Gaines trainee seeks a win in his 2017 unveiling. ‘RYANO hasn’t been seen since taking the Hollywood Turf Cup by open lengths at Del Mar last November. He had to settle for minor awards behind division leader Ashleyluvssugar on two occasions last year before turning the tables in the mile-and-a-half Turf Cup. He may in fact find the San Marcos distance too short, but he should be running on late.
The play: $4 win 14, $3 exacta box 5/14 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Turf veterans Mike Smith and Victor Espinoza are busier than usual today and have several live mounts on Saturday. Smith has a chance to sweep the early double with Bob Baffert’s highly-regarded Reach The World and Sheer Flattery. Later on, Smith rides MOR SPIRIT in the San Antonio and TWENTYTWENTYVISION in the San Marcos. Neither of those are my top play in those races, but are live mounts nonetheless.
As for Espinoza, he rides Royal Mo in the Robert B. Lewis against Sheer Flattery, then Moe Candy in the Palos Verdes Stakes. Hoffenheim, Espinoza’s mount in Race 6, also intrigues off the layoff and surface switch at a decent price.
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