Below is the late Pick 4 ticket at Santa Anita Park on December 30th, 2017. This Saturday's ticket centers around strong opinions in the two middle legs of the sequence. As always the ticket is $20 or less.
Kristi's Copilot (#6, 6-1) leads a wide-open allowance race that is short on reliable contenders. He has been in razor sharp form as of late and though those races came on the turf, he is proven on the dirt and has three wins over Santa Anita's surface. He will greatly appreciate shortening up from 1 3/8 and will likely sit a good trip right behind the speed.
Beaumarchis (#5, 4-1) is also better than ever, having won four races in a row. His win streak started at the $12,500 level and this will be his biggest class test in quite some time. He may be up for the challenge however; and could be long gone if uncontested on the lead. He is far too sharp to ignore.
Sheer Flattery (#10, 3-1) is always right there, but has a bit of hang in him. He is the most reliable exotics horse in the field, but is certainly no slam dunk to win as the morning line favorite. Returning to the site of his lone win could produce just enough of a move forward to be victorious.
Camino de Estrella (#4, 12-1) looks awfully similar to Sheer Flattery, but at four times the price. He is consistent at a route distance, but is only 1 for 11 lifetime. The blinkers seemed to help him finish last time out and that figure stacks up well with his competition.
California Street (#1, 6-1) offers the most upside of any horse in this field. He has only run three times and his maiden breaking score was impressive. The only concern is his ability to handle the surface. He ran very well in his two starts at Del Mar, but sandwiched in-between those performances was a poor effort at Santa Anita Park. He has worked well at Santa Anita and if he gets over the track as well in the afternoon as he does in the morning, then he could be tough.
Avanti Bello (#9, 10-1) has always been inconsistent, but his best efforts are good enough to upset this field at a price. He has four wins and four seconds at Santa Anita Park, so if he is going to turn around his form, it will be today.
Donworth (#8, 6-1) seems to be going the wrong way and will be offered up for a tag in here. He has continued to work well however; and will make his second start for the always dangerous Peter Miller barn. He is hard to trust, but it would be tough to be knocked out of the sequence by Peter Miller and Irad Ortiz Jr. if this horse finds some of his back class.
Just Kidding (#2, 20-1) looks to be just a step below the top contenders, but he is a fit at this level and offers tremendous value. It only costs an extra $2.50 to throw this horse on the ticket and his best efforts are good enough for this gelding to pull a surprise at 20-1.
Daddys Lil Darling (#4, 3-1) brings always dangerous East Coast turf form with her for the American Oaks. Unlike most of her competitors, she is proven at an elongated distance, having won at a 1 5/16 at Kentucky Downs. She was caught on a yelding turf course when going shorter than she prefers at Churchill Downs last time out. This Grade 1 placed filly has worked very well in the interim and should simply outclass her competition.
Americanize (#5 2-1) is the 'now' horse and is another logical single in the sequence. Three starts back he beat City of Light, who won the Grade 1 Malibu on Tuesday. He followed that up with a victory over heavily favored Mr. Hinx in the Damacus Stakes. He actually ran very well to be fourth in the Cigar Mile when taking all the heat early against a fantastic field at a distance that is likely too far for him. After doing all the dirty work, he finished only a length and a quarter behind Practical Joke, who would be a heavy favorite in this race. Masochistic will likely need a race and even if he brings his best, that may not be good enough to beat the rising Americanize.
Urban Bourbon (#11, 15-1) is my top pick in the nightcap at 15-1. This gelding was just starting to get very good at Golden Gate and won by 6 lengths for $20,000 in September. He was caught on a synthetic surface he does not enjoy in his next start after the race was rained off the turf. The comment line in his latest start does not do him justice. I urge everyone to go back and watch his trip on November 25th at Golden Gate. He had to take up badly at two different points in the race and that effort should simply be tossed. William Morey would not bring this horse down to Santa Anita Park off a 12th place finish for nothing. Kent Desormeaux would not stick around to ride a $25,000 claimer at 15-1 for nothing. This horse looks live for a 37% jockey/trainer combo.
Lewis Vale (#12, 7-2) is a dangerous fresh face for David Jacobson. He has the speed to work out a trip from post 12 and could wire the field while returning to the turf. He won at this level two starts back and fits the condition like a glove.
Orino (#7, 8-1) is the 'other' Jacobson at a much better price. He faced New York-breds in his last couple starts, but those races were still likely tougher than what he faces in here. He has gone awhile without winning, but a repeat of his last race may be good enough to win here.
Comes the Dream (#3, 6-1) may very well need a race, but trainer Mike Puype thrives with fresh horses. Puype is at 12 % overall for the year, but connects at 26% with horses off a 180+ day layoff. His form fits nicely in here and if he returns as good as he left, he will be a big factor.
Banze No Oeste (#13, 4-1) will have a tough post if he draws into the race. He just won at the $25,000 level and is the most consistent runner in the field. He should be squarely in the mix and is worth monitoring closely from the Also-Eligible list. If he does not get in, Rye Patch (#4, 4-1) can be included on the ticket as a substitute.
$0.50 Pick 4 Ticket: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 – 4 – 5 – 3, 7, 11, 12, 13 = $20