Saturday Selections


This race is full of talented fillies, but the obvious showdown is between Covfefe and Come Dancing. As brilliant as Covfefe is, I am again going to lean toward the older horse, and Come Dancing has been a powerhouse all year, with her only defeat coming at 1 1/16 miles to Midnight Bisou. But at 6 1/2 furlongs, seven furlongs, and one mile she has been unbeatable. A Breeders' Cup victory would be very special to trainer Carlos Martin, whose father, Jose Martin, was unable to win on two occasions with the great Groovy. This one would be for his father. Come Dancing is too short to bet to win or in an exacta with Covfefe, so an intriguing exacta would be to play her on top of Bellafina, who is four-for-four at Santa Anita and is dropping back to a sprint. Longshot Dawn the Destroyer has chased Come Dancing on a couple of occasions, and although she hasn't won in a while, she is always in the money and closing at the end and could also pick up a piece of it if you want to back her up in the exotics.

Winner - Come Dancing


This race is way too confusing to me, especially at the distance of five furlongs, which is even more confusing at Santa Anita, with the traditional 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill course no longer being used. I am going to go with the old pro, Pure Sensation, the 8-year-old running machine who would make quite a story with a victory here. He is still running like a sprightly 3-year-old, winning four of his last five starts, he is a five-furlong specialist, and the only time he's run at Santa Anita he was third, beaten one length, in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at 12-1. I would also play him in the exactas with Eddie Haskell, Om, Leinster, Stormy Liberal, and Final Frontier. Have you heard anyone mention Stormy Liberal, who only has won the last two runnings? He may look to be off form, but I feel he is actually coming up to another big race. Don;t ignore him.

Winner - Pure Sensation


I am not a fan of a two-turn mile because it goes against everything a true mile stands for - speed, stamina, and guts. This might as well be run a mile and 70 yards or 1 1/16 miles. And on top of that, it places too much importance on post position. With that said, the main focus obviously will be on Omaha Beach, my No. 1-ranked Kentucky Derby horse for many weeks. I would love to see him win, but this is not about favorites. I won't even wager on second choice Improbable, who trainer Bob Baffert loves in here. It makes this a rematch of the Arkansas Derby. The key to Improbable is how he behaves in the gate. Omaha Beach has no flaws and looks as if he can doing anything at any distance under any conditions. Another live horse is Mr. Money, who probably wasn't at his best being on the lead in the Pennsylvania Derby, in which he finished second to longshot Math Wizard. Also getting some buzz is Spun to Run, who is improving in leaps and bounds. As usual, I am going to look for a big price and an older horse to upset the 3-year-olds. That is the 6-year-old Giant Expectations, whose last two races with blinkers on were two of the best races he has he ever run even though he was beaten in photos, the last being to the brilliant Catalina Cruiser in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien Stakes, in which he ran a negative-2 3/4 on Thoro-Graph, faster than any horse in the field has ever run, including Omaha Beach. Go back to Dec. 2017 in the San Antonio Stakes, and you will find Giant Expecations easily upsetting Accelerate, eventual winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, and Collected, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic and winner of the Pacific Classic, by nearly four lengths at 13-1. So you know what he is capable of. This will be my win bet and I will play him in the exactas with the big 3-year-olds. Diamond Oops is interesting coming off the grass and should be used in the exotics.The last time he went from grass to dirt he won the Smile Sprint Stakes. I am also intrigued with the Korean horse Blue Chipper, who has trained as well as anyone at Santa Anita. I might just put a little saver on him just in case.

Winner - Giant Expectations, Saver win bets on Diamond Oops and Blue Chipper.


Can anyone beat Sistercharlie? Will she be the same without her pacesetter Thais, who set the pace in Sistercharlie's last five starts and who was a vet scratch this week? Without Thais, it leaves front-running Rodeo Drive winner Mirth as the only speed. It also means Sistercharlie will be on her own against a talented group of Europeans and a pair of formidable Americans Vasilika and Mrs. Sippy. I can't separate the Euros and have no idea if Fleeting is going to get a clean trip for a change. If she does, she has a powerful closing kick and is the class of the Euros. Billesdon Brook, Castle Lady, Iridessa, Villa Marina, and the improving Fanny Logan are all dangerous invaders. I could either go with Mirth wiring this field or the Santa Anita phenom Vasilika, who is 11-for-12 over the track, mowing them all down. To me it's all a guess especially separating the Europeans, and I have no firm opinion. I would have to see the odds to look for the potential overlays. As of right now I might just go with Mirth and Vasilika and see what happen on the board. Or I can just pass this race and see if Sistercharlie can notch her seventh straight grade 1 victory.

Winner -- Fleeting


Arguably the best race of them all with Mitole, Imperial Hint, Shancelot, and Catalina Cruiser. Good luck finding a longshot in this field. The only wager that makes any sense to me is playing all four in the exacta over the hard-knocking Whitmore, who could be flying at the end if these speed freaks somehow run each other into the ground. I will even put a win bet on Whitmore. Even horses like Firenze Fire and Hog Creek Hustle could make their presence felt late, and Mitole's trainer Steve Asmussen has an ample backup shot with Phoenix Stakes winner Engage, who is two-for-two since being turned over to him. But for now I will stick to my exacta play with Whitmore second and bet him to win and just sit back and enjoy the show. If I had a sentimental choice it would be the Little Rocket Imperial Hint who is due to win this race after finishing second and third.

Win bet -- Whitmore


This race appears to be all about Got Stormy, Uni, and Circus Maximus, and it's going to take a huge effort to beat all of them. My three longshots are Trais Fluors, Lucullan, and Without Parole, with the last named being a pure guess based on last year's group 1-winning form in Europe and being transferred to Chad Brown after going off form this year. My real bomb is Trais Fluors, who has been a gem of consistency in France and was solid thirds in the last two runnings of the group 1 Prix d'Ispahan. What sticks out on his back form is a strong second to Thunder Snow in the group 1 Prix Jean Prat, beaten 1 1/4 lengths and then finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind him when third and fourth in the group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois. He is a stretch, but he will be a monster price. As for Lucullan, I love his form cycle. After being sidelined for 14 months he returned this summer with a pair of victories at Belmont and Saratoga before finishing a close third in the grade 1 Woodbine Mile, a half-length behind Got Stormy, but was disqualified for bearing out in the stretch under constant left-handed whipping. He bounced out of that race to win the nine-furlong Knickerbocker Stakes in a sprightly 1:46 4/5 and look s ready for his top effort. Looking back at his form from 2017, he finished second by a neck in the Hill Prince Stakes to Yoshida, with Bricks and Mortar third. So it is possible that you had the eventual winners of the BC Classic, Mile, and Turf finishing 1, 2, 3 two years earlier. Finally, Without Parole, a son of Frankel, was undefeated when he captured the group 1 St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. For some reason he went completely off form this year before being sent to Chad Brown. The fact that Brown is running him in here is enough to give him a long shot chance based on what he know he's capable of and his past reputation. My other Euro longshot would be Hey Gaman, who loves firm going, has sprint speed and can stretch it out, and has back form, finishing second by a neck in the French 2,000 Guineas.

Win bets -- Trais Fluors, Lucullan, Hey Gaman, and Without Parole and play all four in the exactas behind Got Stormy, Uni, and Circus Maximus.


Another tough favorite in Midnight Bisou, who may be the shortest-priced favorite in the Breeders' Cup. There isn't much that intrigues me here, with Paradise Woods and Serengeti Empress both dangerous pace horses. I am going to look for a potential huge overlay in 15-1 Wow Cat, who was second in last year's Distaff to Monomoy Girl and finishing ahead of Midnight Bisou. On her best day she can run with any of them, and if allowed to come from farther back and make one run she may be able to make up the three lengths she was beaten by Midnight Bisou in the recent Beldame Stakes. I am also going to place a wager on Chad Brown's other filly Dunbar Road, who loves deeper going, and was stuck on a dead rail when third in the Spinster against older horses. She has a mile and a quarter win in the Alabama under her belt and could run a big race with that foundation under her.

Win bets - Wow Cat and Dunbar Road and play them underneath Midnight Bisou as saver bets.


If Bricks and Mortar isn't as effective at a mile and a half you have to go with Anthony Van Dyck or Old Persian. After that there is not a lot to choose from, as the other Americans all take turns beating each other. One, however, who intrigues me is the Santa Anita-based United, who is on the improve and could appreciate the stretch-out from a mile and a quarter. I don't love him, but he should be a big price for a house horse. If Bricks and Mortar does get the distance, it looks to be all about him and the two Europeans, so no use to get too fancy.


As reported the other day, I'm still high on Vino Rosso, as I have been for the past year and a half, and will stick with him, with saver win bets on my two longshot specials Seeking the Soul and Mongolian Groom. The logical horses who have to be played underneath are Higher Power, McKinzie, Code of Honor, and Yoshida. And even Elate fits with these males going a mile and a quarter. See my previous column on the Classic for my complete analysis and all my exotic bets.

Winner - Vino Rosso, Saver win bet -- Yoshida


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