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Sweet Lou Monaco analyzes Saturday's Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita

A field of six is on tap for the Grade 1 $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies & mares over 1 ¼ miles on the turf Saturday at Santa Anita Park.

As part of the Breeders Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge, the winner receives a berth into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf to be held right here on Saturday, Nov. 2.

Slated as race 9 on the 11-race card, post time is scheduled for 7:41 p.m. ET.

#2, Beau Recall, Drayden Van Dyke, 9-5

Beau Recall will be making her 25th career start today (7-6-0) and is 3-2-0 in five starts this year, including a powerful stretch drive in her last start to earn a nose triumph over Storm the Hill in the $200,000 G2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 3. One drawback, she is 0-3 in going this distance, but her stretch rally in the last bodes well for her today. The pick.

#6, Paved, Victor Espinoza, 5-2

Winless in her last seven starts, which includes five G1 and one G2, Paved enters today’s stakes after a fourth-place finish to Vasilika in the $200,000 G2 John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 31. She earned a 94 Beyer in that race. Her last win was a 3 ½-length triumph in the $200,000 G2 Honeymoon Stakes right here on June 9 of last year. She starts from the outside with Victor Espinoza aboard and poses a big threat with the jock and experience. Plus she might be due, don’t you think? Runner-up, but not by much.

#5, Excellent Sunset, Abel Cedillo, 7-2

Excellent Sunset has had runner-up finishes in four of her last five starts, including two straight. Two starts back, she finished ¾ of a length behind Fahan Mura in the $150,000 G3 Robert J. Frankel Stakes right here back on Dec. 29 of last year. After an eight-month layoff since that race, she finished second by a half-length to Super Patriot in an $62,500 allowance optional claiming race at Del Mar on Aug. 30. In her only G1 start, she finished a disappointing 8th to Uni (GB) in the $300,000 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar on Dec. 2, 2018. Cedillo returns for his second straight mount. In the mix.

#1, Mirth, Mike Smith, 6-1

After three straight second-place finishes, Mirth ran fifth in her last start in the $85,000 CTT and TOC Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 16. She led by one length at the mile mark and then weakened in the stretch for Martin Garcia, who has been in the saddle for three straight starts. Mike Smith gets the call today for a new direction and a new feel. Mirth is 1-3-1 in eight starts this year, with her last victory by a neck over Stradella Road in a $57,000 allowance optional claiming race here on Feb. 23. This will be her first graded stakes race and the move up might be too much to ask, but with Smith in the saddle, there is always a chance. Looks to improve.

PICKS: 2-6-5-1

By Lou Monaco


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