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Lou Monaco is hoping to start 2020 how he finished 2019: picking winners!

Happy New Year to all of our readers and thanks for joining us on this ride into 2020! Follow me on Twitter @loumonaco and follow @oddscheckerus and tell us your thoughts on what you would like to see coverage wise for 2020! We appreciate any feedback!

Now to the racing…

With the Rose Bowl happening today just eight miles away, what better place to start the New Year than Santa Anita Park, highlighted by the $200,000 Grade 2 Joe Hernandez Stakes for 4-years-old and up over 5 ½ furlongs on the turf. The field of 10 will go to gate for race 8 on the 10-race card with an approximate post time of 6 p.m. ET.

#9, Blitzkrieg, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1

The morning-line favorite was stellar in 2019, winning four of his six starts. He won four straight, including three here on the hillside downhill turf and capped off by the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Field on April 27, but in his last, finished seventh in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes on May 27. This will be his third straight graded stakes start. Rafael Bejarano will be in the saddle for trainer Doug O’Neill. We shall see if the long layoff will help or hurt. I like his chances. The pick.

#5, Captain Scotty, Joel Rosario, 5-1

Captain Scotty is one of two runners in the field trained by Peter Miller (along with Texas Wedge) and will be making his debut on the turf. He has been extremely consistent with seven straight finishes in the money, including a third-place finish coming off a nine-month layoff in his last, an allowance optional claiming at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28. This will be his fifth start at Santa Anita (1-2-0). Joel Rosario has the call for Miller and at this price, this duo presents a threat. Runner-up.

#6, True Valour (IRE), Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2

This will be his 21st career start (5-2-6) and in 2019, he went 2-0-1 in four starts. This will be his fourth straight and sixth of his last seven graded stakes start. After winning the Grade 3 Thunder Road Stakes (2/9/19) and the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile Stakes (10/5/19) both right here, he finished 10th in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile in his last on Nov. 2. The 6-year-old will be starting his shortest race of his career and a win today could have him set up for an appearance in the $1 million 1351 Turf Sprint at about 6 3/4 furlongs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Feb. 29, which is on the undercard of the $20 million Saudi Cup. Dangerous. Contender.

#4, Texas Wedge, Flavien Prat, 6-1

Miller’s other entrant, Texas Wedge is 1-0-1 in three career starts at Santa Anita. He has finished in the money in three straight and five of his last six races, including a runner-up finish in his last in an allowance race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28. This will be his third graded stakes start, having finished ninth in both. Flavien Prat is in the saddle, which is a huge plus. In the mix.

PICKS: 9-5-6-4


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