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Racing expert Sweet Lou Monaco's picks for the Grade 1 American Oaks at Santa Anita Park

The six-month Santa Anita Park meet in Arcadia, California begins today thru June 23 with seven stakes races on the docket, including six graded stakes.

We will take a look at one of those smack dab in the middle of the card with the $300,000 Grade 1 American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies over 1 ¼ miles on the downhill turf. The field of 8 will go to gate for race 6 on the 11-race card with an approximate post time of 4:44 p.m. ET.

#3, Mucho Unusual, Joel Rosario, 4-1

Mucho Unusual returns to Santa Anita where he has placed in the money in five of her six career starts here (3-1-1), including a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Autumn Miss Stakes two starts back on Oct. 26. In her last start, she finished a disappointing ninth in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar on Dec. 1. This will be her third Grade 1 career start and who better to have on board for trainer Tim Yakteen than Joel Rosario, who rode her to two stakes wins including a last-to-first in the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes at Del Mar on July 20 and a wire-to-wire finish in the California Cup Oaks here on Feb. 18. Rosario here is huge. The pick.

#5, Lady Prancealot (IRE), Joe Bravo, 2-1

The morning-line favorite comes into today’s race having finished in the money in six of her last seven starts, including a ¾ length win in her last in the Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 18. Joe Bravo was aboard then for trainer Richard Baltas and he returns to the saddle today. This will be her seventh graded stakes start in her last 10 and she is a solid 2-2-1 in her last six starts at Santa Anita. A lot to like here especially with a hot jock in Bravo. Runner-up.

#8, Vibrance, Abel Cedillo, 3-1

This will be the 10th career start for Vibrance (1-2-2) and fifth this year (0-1-1). She is the only one in the field that has raced 1 ¼ miles and that should prove to be a huge positive in her favor. In her last start, she finished third in the Grade 3 red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar on Nov. 30 and she is seeking her first victory since a maiden special weight triumph in her second career start back on Aug. 29, 2018 at Del Mar. This will be her third career start here with two runner-up finishes to her credit, including the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes on Sept. 29, 2018. Contender.

#7, Giza Goddess, Victor Espinoza, 7-2

Today will be only her third start of the year, having taken second two starts back in the Grade 3 Autumn Miss Stakes here on Oct. 26. She has finished in the money in four of her last five starts, however in her last, she finished eighth in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar on Dec. 1. Victor Espinoza is in the saddle for trainer John Shirreffs and a change in tactics might improve her chances. In the mix.

PICKS: 3-5-8-7

By Lou Monaco


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