Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Saturday, April 8

Preview: This is the highlight of the winter/spring meet as it’s Santa Anita Derby Day for 3-year-old colts and geldings, and for good luck the Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies is also on the card. Here are some thoughts on the graded stakes (there are a pair of Cal-bred stake races on the card, too):

Race 1: #8 Roy H (8-1): You don’t often get trainer Peter Miller at this price. This gelding has won down the hills before and Miller is taking off the blinkers, a move he is 21% with.

Race 4 (Evening Jewel Stakes for Cal bred fillies) 1. #6 S Y Sky (4-1): This is a first-time starter running in a Cal-bred stakes so they must be very high of this filly. The sire Grazen gets plenty of first-time winners and trainer Phil D’Amato is 14% with FTS.

Race 5 (Grade II Royal Heroine): 1. #4 Lady Valeur (8-1), 2. #6 Harmonize (5-2), 3. #3 Prize Exhibit (4-1). Long shot: #7 Hillhouse High (9-2)

Lady Valeur finished third in the Grade I American Oaks and now gets the top grass jockey Flavien Prat. Harmonize and trainer Bill Mott are trying to exploit the perceived weakness of the female division on the West Coast. She won the Grade I Del Mar Oaks last summer.

Race 6 (Grade I Santa Anita Oaks): 1. #6 Majestic Quality (10-1), 2. #2 It Tiz Well (5-2), 3. #4 Abel Tasman (6-5). Long shot: #3 Paradise Woods (6-1)

It’s a shame Unique Bella got hurt and will miss at least two months. She’s special but we have to move on. Majestic Quality finished second to Farrell, the now perceived leader of the 3-year-old filly division, in the Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds.

Race 8 (Grade I Santa Anita Derby): 1. #2 Reach the World (5-1), 2. #8 Gormley (9-2), 3. #3 Battle of Midway (5-1). Long shot: #11 Irish Freedom (20-1)

This is a wide open race. Trainer Doug O’Neill has four and Bob Baffert has three entered. Jockey Mike Smith no doubt had the choice of Baffert horses and he chose Reach the World. This Tapit colt is bred to run long and it’s only his fourth career race. Tough to explain Gormley’s last race, but that’s when you get a better price. Don’t be afraid to play a Baffert exacta and trifecta (2-6-11) box.

Race 9 (Grade III Providencia): 1. #8 Emphatically (6-1), 2. #1 Sircat Sally (6-5), 3. #7 Tiburtina (15-1). Long shot: #2 Union Strike (6-1)

Sircat Sally was beating up on Cal-bred competition before whipping open company last time. However, I like Emphatically, who is trained by Tom Proctor and owned by Glen Hill Farm, who used to run out here on the West Coast all the time until last year. Proctor is shipping for a reason and he gets that man Prat to ride.

Race 10 (Echo Eddie Stakes for 3-year-old Cal-breds) 1. #3 Tribal Storm (6-1): This ridgling is coming out of the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, where he finished fourth. Jockey Rafael Bejarano decides to jump back on and that’s good enough for me.

Good luck.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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