Midnight Storm rolls into Santa Anita Handicap as the favorite

The Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap will be renewed for the 80th time at Santa Anita Park this Saturday. The 1 1/4-mile classic drew a field of nine. Scheduled as the 10th race on an 11-race card, post time for the “Big ‘Cap” is 7:30 p.m. EST. As always, feel free to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#1 MIDNIGHT STORM (8-5, morning-line favorite) looms large for trainer Phil D’Amato as the expected betting favorite. He’s the clear speed of the race with no serious threats to challenge him early. Rafael Bejarano, who has the mount once more, knows this horse well having ridden him to victory numerous times, including last time out in the San Pasqual Stakes. With a decided advantage in speed figures, setup and prowess over the course, MIDNIGHT STORM looks like a solid play.

#6 FOLLOW ME CREV (8-1) appears to be a solid price play climbing back into the handicap ranks. He disappointed in his first venture into graded company last year, but was coming off minor layoffs each time. He appears to be in good health now having taken his comeback race three weeks ago with relative ease (despite the small margin), and Kent Desormeaux sees fit to stay aboard. FOLLOW ME CREV will be the one to watch for late.

#3 SHAMAN GHOST (2-1) figures to attract plenty of attention shipping in for Jimmy Jerkens with Javier Castellano staying on. He was a solid second in the Pegasus World Cup behind Arrogate, and was over three lengths clear of the third-place finisher Neolithic. He won two stakes last year, so he’s classy enough, but he’s not the most consistent runner there ever was. SHAMAN GHOST disappointed in both the Suburban and Clark Handicaps last year between taking the Brooklyn and the Woodward. He could win, but may not be worth the bet today.

The play: $5 exacta 1/3,6 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Mike Smith rides outsider Twentytwentyvision (12-1) in the Santa Anita Handicap, but has plenty of live mounts on the card. Chief among them are Mastery (6-5, San Felipe Stakes), Masochistic (even-money, Triple Bend Stakes) and Bolo (3-1, Kilroe Mile). Smith also rides a live Baffert firster (Southern Mischief, Race 4) and favored Sircat Sally in the China Doll Stakes.

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