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Santa Anita Park
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Bernier's Best

Weekend Stakes Previews for Jan. 15

by Matt Bernier
Updated On: January 14, 2022, 2:59 pm ET

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In horse racing, half of the handicapping battle is finding true contenders.

The other half of the battle boils down to racing luck.

There wasn’t much luck to be had last weekend, as one of the horses identified in this article finished first with the other three finishing second.

Unfortunately, My Boy Tate, the horse that crossed the wire first in the Say Florida Sandy at Aqueduct, was disqualified for interference in deep stretch and moved from first to fourth.

After one week, here is the results tally (records reflective of $2 WIN / $2 WPS):

WIN: 0-4 (-$8.00)
WPS: 3-4 (-$4.40)

There are no graded stakes on the racing calendar this Saturday, but Santa Anita Park has a card that’s littered with stakes action for California-bred horses of all ages.

Below you will find what I would consider to be fair win odds for each runner, along with a wager, in Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint, California Cup Sprint, and California Cup Oaks.

 

 

6:36 ET – SANTA ANITA R8 – SUNSHINE MILLIONS FILLY & MARE TURF SPRINT – ABOUT 6.5 FURLONGS – TURF 

1 – Alice Marble 20/1
2 – California Kook 10/1
3 – Super Game 30/1
4 – Nardini 6/1
5 – Smiling Shirlee 99/1
6 – Rebalation 13/1
7 – Nice Ice 30/1
8 – Governor Goteven 99/1
9 – Warren’s Showtime 7/2
10 – Sedamar 10/1
11 – Eddie’s New Dream 10/1
12 – Leggs Galore 5/1

 

WARREN’S SHOWTIME is the most likely winner in this salty group of turf sprinters going down the hill, however she’s likely to be overbet in relation to her true chances of winning. LEGGS GALORE owns wicked speed, but there’s no guarantee her flat form will translate to the hillside turf course at Santa Anita. The same can be said for most of this field, but Leggs Galore will take a ton of support at the windows and should be approached with caution. She may not be a standout, but NARDINI brings legitimate credentials to the party and rates an upset chance. The six-year-old mare finished ahead of Warren’s Showtime racing at a mile over the summer at Del Mar and has proven herself sprinting in the past. Nardini’s prep at Golden Gate on December 11 was better than it may appear, as she was in close attendance to a torrid pace throughout before getting run down by a last-to-first winner in REBALATION. Look for Kent Desormeaux to position Nardini reasonably close to the pace, looking to pounce as the field hits the top of the stretch.

 

THE PLAY: 4 – Nardini to win at odds of 6/1 or greater (NO PLAY IF TAKEN OFF TURF)

 

 

7:06 ET – SANTA ANITA R9 – CALIFORNIA CUP SPRINT – 6 FURLONGS – DIRT 

1 – Rifey 25/1
2 – Peaceful Transfer 99/1
3 – Brickyard Ride 8/5
4 – Positivity 6/1
5 – Loud Mouth 30/1
6 – Letsgetlucky 9/2
7 – Principe Carlo 12/1
8 – Colt Fiction 6/1

 

On paper this race appears to be BRICKYARD RIDE’s to lose, as he is without question the quickest horse entered. Trained by Craig Lewis, Brickyard Ride won this race last year in gate-to-wire fashion, and that’s exactly the running style he’ll implement if he’s to repeat on Saturday. The five-year-old isn’t without questions, however. Following two subpar performances (albeit against tougher), Brickyard Ride hasn’t raced since late August at Del Mar. Now, making his first start off a four-and-a-half-month layoff, the son of Clubhouse Ride will face a stiff fitness test. If he’s ready off the bench, everyone else is likely running for second honors; if he’s not ready? A horse like LETSGETLUCKY could be in prime position to spring a mild upset. Letsgetlucky is a lightly raced four-year-old that continues to improve with each start he makes, and his most recent effort on November 27 at Del Mar is better than it looks. While the son of Munnings flattened out during the latter part of the event, the race came at six-and-one-half-furlongs against considerably better competition. Now, with the slight cutback in distance against weaker company, Letsgetlucky has the look of a live shot in Saturday’s Cal Cup Sprint.

 

THE PLAY: 6 – Letsgetlucky to win at odds of 9/2 or greater

 

 

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7:36 ET – SANTA ANITA R10 – CALIFORNIA CUP OAKS – 1 MILE – TURF 

1 – Big Novel 9/1
2 – Ellamira 50/1
3 – Vivacious Vanessa 9/1
4 – Munny Penny 50/1
5 – Madiha 50/1
6 – Eleuthera 5/1
7 – Professors’ Pride 5/1
8 – Dendera 9/1
9 – Precious Insight 9/1
10 – La Deuxieme Etoile 50/1
11 – Rose Dawson 9/1
12 – Vaping Angel 12/1

 

She may be listed at 15/1 on the morning line, but ELEUTHERA has the look of one of the most likely winners of Saturday’s Cal Cup Oaks despite still being a maiden (yet to win a race in her career). The three-year-old filly by Square Eddie has finished second in both of her turf routes to date, including a race on December 27 in which her rider became complacent on the lead, allowing a rival to take the initiative and control the tempo. From there, the Ben Cecil trainee could only muster a game runner-up finish, although the case can be made that she was best. Since that race, Cecil has equipped Eleuthera with blinkers. It’s a bit of an assumption, but her most recent workout on January 8 was a marked improvement from her typical morning drills – presumably while sporting the new equipment. Although she’s yet to visit the winner’s circle, Eleuthera has as good a chance as any to win this stakes event for California-bred fillies. Of the three horses selected in these three races, Eleuthera is the one I’m most looking forward to betting.

 

THE PLAY: 6 – Eleuthera to win at odds of 5/1 or greater (NO PLAY IF TAKEN OFF TURF)

 

 

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Matt Bernier

Matt Bernier is a betting analyst for NBC Sports and host of "The Matt Bernier Show" podcast. His work has been showcased in the Daily Racing Form, on ESPN, as well as on TVG. Matt can be followed on Twitter @bernier_matt.