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Sunday is Opening Day at Santa Anita Park, and the track known as “The Great Race Place” will kick off its winter-spring meet with an 11-race program the day after Christmas.

Sunday Free Horse Racing Picks: Late Pick Four at Santa Anita

Sunday is Opening Day at Santa Anita Park, and the track known as “The Great Race Place” will kick off its winter-spring meet with an 11-race program the day after Christmas. The card features several graded stakes races and some of the flashiest, most talented runners on the west coast.

One note before we dive into the late Pick Four: There’s been substantial rainfall in California over the past few days. This analysis assumes that races carded for the turf stay there, which isn’t a certainty. If there are surface changes, adjust your handicapping accordingly.

RACE #8:

We’ll start off the sequence with the Grade 1 La Brea for 3-year-old fillies. The seven-furlong event attracted a field of seven, and while I’m using the likely favorite, I think there’s another runner that makes a lot of sense.

#4 PRIVATE MISSION is logical. She won two graded stakes races in a row before setting a scorching pace in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Even though this is also a Grade 1 race, this spot provides some class relief after she took on some of the most accomplished female horses in the world.

The main potential speed bump for that one is the early pace, which figures to be pretty fast. With that in mind, I’ll also include #1 CANOODLING, who could pick up the pieces at a price. She’s won four of her last five, and the lone defeat came going two turns, which isn’t the route she wants. She’ll certainly need to improve, but the likely race shape makes that very possible, and her likely price makes her very attractive.

RACE #9:

This is one of two turf races in the sequence, and it’s carded for the downhill turf course. In the past, they’ve been careful not to run these races down the hill when the course is wet, so it’s possible they use the newer turf chute for this one (or move it to the dirt).

If they keep it on the grass (either down the hill or out of the chute), I’ll go three-deep, and my top pick is #9 XMAS SURPRISE. She didn’t have her desired trip last time out at Del Mar, when she wound up near the back of the back. She’s much better on or near the lead, and this race doesn’t have a ton of early speed signed on. If she has a smoother break, I think she could go to the front and get comfortable.

#2 SUPER GAME and #8 ANOTHER EDDIE are on my ticket as well. The former seems to have discovered her best form late in her 3-year-old season, while the latter would benefit from a move to the turf chute (a course she recorded two wins over earlier this year).

RACE #10:

The second of three Grade 1 races in this sequence is the Malibu, and I can’t get cute here. While I’m not crazy about how lightly-raced he is, I simply can’t get past how freakishly talented the morning line favorite seems to be.

#5 FLIGHTLINE has two runaway wins in as many starts. He’s posted victories by a combined margin of 26 lengths, and his most recent score came with a 114 Beyer Speed Figure attached to it. #4 DR. SCHIVEL and #7 TRIPLE TAP are both sharp horses, but I simply think Flightline is significantly faster. If he’s right, I think he’ll put on a show.

RACE #11:

I have no such strong opinions in the Sunday finale, the Grade 1 American Oaks. I’ll look to close out this $15 ticket by going five-deep, and while I’m using several logical horses, a few big prices will also be in my group.

Michael McCarthy trains a quartet of runners in here, and I’m using two of them. I prefer #6 CHARGES DROPPED, who attracts the red-hot Kent Desormeaux. She’s bred to want as much distance as she can get, and I think she’ll get more pace than she’s gotten in her last several outings. Her recent bullet drill is a plus, and anything close to her 20-1 morning line would hit me as a sizable overlay.

I’ll also use #1 FLUFFY SOCKS, #5 GOING GLOBAL, #7 BURGOO ALLEY, and #11 SINGLE SOUL. Based on figures, Going Global is the horse to beat, and I won’t be stunned if she wins. However, the stretch-out to a mile and a quarter isn’t insignificant, and I won’t be surprised if she proves to be a better miler than anything else.


R8: 1,4 R9: 2,8,9 R10: 5 R11: 1,5,6,7,11

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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