Ten-year-old vet Soi Phet can conquer the Californian

The Grade II, $200,000 Californian Stakes highlights the Saturday action at Santa Anita. The historic 1 1/8-mile dirt heat drew a field of six. Post time for the Californian, Race 5 on an 11-race card, is 5:00 p.m. EST. In addition to watching and wagering, be sure to play FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#1 SOI PHET (4-1) was a game second in an allowance/optional claiming at Santa Anita last month off a September layoff. He was a bit further back than usual under Alonso Quinonez but will be reunited with Kent Desormeaux today. That suggests a return to SOI PHET’s customary tactics of either being on or challenging for the lead. He may have lost to #6 PRINCE OF ARABIA in that most recent outing, but there’s plenty of reason to suspect SOI PHET will turn the tables and take the Californian.

#3 CURLIN ROAD (5-1), a Grade III winner last year, gets needed class relief dropping out of the Santa Anita Handicap. This will also be his second start off a layoff, so it’s possible we’ll see an effort similar to his two straight wins from last July. Based on his 1 1/2-mile stakes win last year, it’s clear that he won’t mind today’s distance. He should be rolling late under Tyler Baze.

#4 DR. DORR (8-5, morning-line favorite) cantered home in the Santana Mile last time but crawled up front and beat just three rivals. He’s unlikely to be left alone by SOI PHET as he tries to get nine furlongs for the first time. However, he’s sent out by the always-dangerous Bob Baffert and loves this course (4-for-6 lifetime). Joe Talamo has the assignment.

#6 PRINCE OF ARABIA (5-1) pulled off a big upset over SOI PHET last time out. It’s not a given that he’ll replicate that performance under Stewart Elliott as that was just his first win in seven tries over this course, but he should be the best of the rest.

The play: $3 exacta 1/3,4, $2 exacta 1/6, $2 exacta 3/2 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Kent Desormeaux rides four different times at Santa Anita this Saturday. Two of those are solid stakes mounts; Lucy De (3-1) in the Santa Barbara and SOI PHET in the Californian. The other two give him good chances to hit the board (Neon Gypsy, Race 1 and Oscar Dominguez, Race 6).

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