United a standout in Charles Whittingham

The Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes anchors Saturday’s action at Santa Anita. The 1 1/4-mile turf event attracted seven runners, including Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up and Grade II San Marcos winner UNITED. Post time for the Charles Whittingham, the eighth of nine races on the program, is 7:18 p.m. ET.

#5 UNITED (6-5, morning-line favorite) established himself as one of California’s better turf horses with his solid runner-up effort in last year’s edition of the Charles Whittingham. He’s gotten better since, so there’s a good chance he’ll make amends in this race in 2020.

UNITED hit the board in three straight turf stakes following his Whittingham effort, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf, before breaking through in the San Marcos last time out. His speed figures stamp him as a legitimate favorite, and Flavien Prat maintains the assignment.

#7 ROCKEMPEROR (5-2) invades from the east for the ever-dangerous Chad Brown. He was last seen taking third off the bench in the Grade II Muniz Memorial Stakes at the Fair Grounds. If he runs back to his Belmont Derby effort going 10 furlongs last year (third), ROCKEMPEROR could prove to be a handful in the lane. Irad Ortiz Jr. sees fit to fly in for the call.

#6 ORIGINAIRE (5-2) moves up if there’s a scratch. He won going away in his most recent turf start at a mile and was second in the Mathis Brothers Mile in his latest stakes effort. ORIGINAIRE has never been this far, but he was also second in the 1 1/8-mile Del Mar Derby in 2019. Umberto Rispoli rides.

The play: $8 exacta 5/7, $2 exacta 7/5 ($10)

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