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Friday's free horse racing picks from handicapper Andrew Champagne comes to us from the opening day at Santa Anita Park's late Pick Four sequence.

Friday Free Horse Racing Picks: Late Pick Four at Santa Anita Park

Friday is opening day at Santa Anita Park, and the Southern California horse racing cathedral will start with a bang. The program features several stakes races, three of which fall within the late Pick Four sequence. I’ll attack it with a $13.50 ticket, and here’s how I’ve put it together.

Race #6: 

The opening leg is the Grade 2 Chandelier for 2-year-old fillies going two turns. Trainer Bob Baffert sends out some of his top prospects all day long today, and one of them is a single for me in this spot.

#4 GRACE ADLER romped in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, where she hit the wire clear by more than 11 lengths. I’m not sold on the field she beat that day, but this $700,000 auction purchase is bred to want to go long. She’s by Curlin, and that pedigree means this route should fit her like a glove. I’m expecting another step forward, and if she takes one, I think the race is for second.

RACE #7: 

This race features three of the most welcome words in horse racing history: Down the hill. Santa Anita is bringing back its downhill turf course this fall, and one of the races it will play host to is the Grade 2 Eddie D. It’s named for Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, and this is a phenomenal betting race.

Here’s the problem: Not many of these runners have recent downhill races on their respective resumes. A few have downhill form, most notably graded stakes winner #2 CARIBOU CLUB, but those races came a long time ago.

I’m going to punch the “ALL” button here. There isn’t anything in the way of a short-priced favorite, and having multiple singles means I can afford to spread elsewhere. So here’s hoping we can get a price home.

RACE #8:

 …because I highly doubt we’re going to get a price home here.

#1 CORNICHE looms large in the Grade 1 American Pharoah off of one of the most impressive debuts of the Del Mar meet. This $1.5 million purchase by Quality Road was never challenged that day, and everything about him says he’ll take to two turns like a duck to water. The inside post is a bit scary, but I simply think he’s far and away from the most talented horse in this field.

Race #9: 

We’ll finish things off with a maiden special weight race for older distaffers. We’ve got a 12-horse field set to go postward for this one, and I’ll look to get this home by going three-deep.

My top pick is a bit of a price. #9 AUSTIN JAMES is bred up and down to be a solid turf horse, and she’ll make her debut here for trainer Jeff Mullins. She’s worked well, and I don’t think she’d need to be a ton to win on debut. If she’s right, I think she can.

#6 BIG SUMMER and #12 SELF ISOLATION are on my ticket as well. The former has run second in back-to-back races at this level, while the latter makes her first start since May of last year after a string of solid workouts for conditioner Doug O’Neill.


R6: 4


R8: 1

R9: 6,9,12

Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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