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Friday’s late Pick Four sequence at Santa Anita is a tricky one. While some of the fields are a bit small, there aren’t many horses that figure to be short-priced favorites.
ANALYSIS

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

Friday’s late Pick Four sequence at Santa Anita is a tricky one. While some of the fields are a bit small, there aren’t many horses that figure to be short-priced favorites. That makes this an appealing wager to analyze, and I’ll look to cash with a ticket that starts at $27 (but may come down a bit after scratches). Let’s take a look!

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RACE #5

We’ll start things off with a claiming event for older fillies and mares going six furlongs. The morning line man thinks this is a three-horse race, but while I’m going three-deep, only one of the “logicals” is on my ticket.

That’s #6 WIN OFTEN, and she’s done that of late, coming in off of back-to-back wins that ended her 2021 campaign. This is her first start for new trainer Doug O’Neill, who has enlisted the services of top local rider Flavien Prat. Two of her four wins have come over this surface, and all indications are she’s in career-best form, which could make her tough even with the slight class jump factored in.

I’ll also use #3 RAIN DIVA and #5 MAJESTIC GIGI. The former has shown speed in state-bred optional claiming races and has shown her best form in local sprints, while the latter has a series of head-turning local workouts ahead of her first start since late-November. #4 UNTOUCHED ELEGANCE and #7 DID I STUTTER may take money, but I don’t like either of them much. Untouched Elegance may need Los Alamitos to be at her best, and Did I Stutter goes out for a barn that won just once all of last season. Their likely prices hit me as underlays.

RACE #6

The second leg is an optional claiming race for turf milers, and I’m taking a mild stand by going against lukewarm 5/2 morning line choice #1 COSMO. He does go back to the turf, but his lone win in 16 starts came against a subpar field of maidens at Golden Gate last May. Based on figures, he’s got a big chance, but I just can’t bet a 1-for-16 horse at a short price.

My top pick is #5 ENCROACHMENT, who stretches out to two turns for the first time and is bred to love it. His most prominent half-brother is Grade 1-winning router Combatant, and he’s also kin to stakes-placed router Bordini. I’m willing to toss the last-out effort, where he didn’t get his preferred front-running trip and had to steady a bit. I think he’ll like the added distance, and that his 6-1 morning line price is an overlay.

#2 BENDER and #7 COTOPAXI are on my ticket as well. Bender ran four solid races in a row to end his 2021 season, while Cotopaxi takes a drop in class after competing against significantly better runners over the past year and a half.

RACE #7

The Friday feature is an allowance/optional claimer with a stakes-quality field. We’re down to a group of five after the scratch of #4 DARK VADER, and for the sake of sound wagering logic, I’m singling my top pick.

#5 SPIELBERG may be a familiar name. He was on the Kentucky Derby trail for a while as a 2-year-old and 3-year-old, and with the exception of two maiden races in 2020, every other race he’s run has been at the graded level. We haven’t seen him since a misfire in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, but he’s been working well ahead of his 2022 debut for Bob Baffert. I respect #2 VITTORIO and #3 CLASSIER, but Spielberg hits me as the most likely winner, and since all three will be bet pretty heavily, it doesn’t make much sense to go deeper.

RACE #8

On the other hand, I’ll absolutely go deep in the Friday finale. In addition to a main field of nine, five also-eligibles may also go. I’ll be using as many as six of those runners, and I sincerely hope the first AE draws in, because that’s the one I like the most.

#10 PINEDALE was one-paced in his debut, but he may have needed that effort. In addition, he’s bred up and down to want two turns on the grass, which is what he gets here. He’s a half to Grade 3 winner Danish Dynaformer, who did his best work on the lawn, and his dam, Danish Wildcat, is kin to Breeders’ Cup Mile winner War Chant, among others. Add in a recent five-furlong bullet drill, and I think there’s plenty to like (especially at his 10-1 morning line price).

Assuming every horse I like runs, I’ll also use #1 WELLSWORTH, #2 LA’OCH ALOYSIUS, #3 BROTHERLY LOVE, #13 SWEET SAVANT, and #14 MO THEM DOWN. Pinedale, Sweet Savant, and Mo Them Down all need scratches to run, so this ticket could potentially scratch down to half of its initial $27 price tag if no AE’s go postward.

THE TICKET

R5: 3,5,6 R6: 2,5,7 R7: 5 R8: 1,2,3,10,13,14

Article Author

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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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