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Sunday Stakes: Our Picks for Santa Anita's Sensational Star Stakes
SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2020
by: Rich Bieglmeier
Horse racing's schedule has slimmed down thanks to the coronavirus. Sunland Park, Turf Paradise, PARX Racing, Aqueduct, Mahoning Valley and Laurel Park have canceled their cards, for now. However, horseplayers can still enjoy the King of Sports as many other tracks continue to race without fans in the stands.
Sunday's limited schedule features just one stakes race with a jackpot of at least $100,000. The $100,000 SENSATIONAL STAR STAKES at Santa Anita. A field of 10 are going to race 5 1/2 furlongs on the Santa Anita turf.
Despite the short run, the distance/surface doesn't favor any running style with 27 of 53 winners described as early speed. Much like style, post position doesn't provide an edge with one exception, the rail. The one hose got home first at just 6% through the first 53 during the current meet. Minus the red one, the best horse should visit the winners' circle.
Lieutenant Dan at Santa Anita
The oddsmaker doesn't see a clear-cut favorite in the Sensational Star Stakes. LIEUTENANT DAN (PP: 7) is the weak morning-line choice at 7/2. Despite posting the highest, last race speed number, the four-year-old looks vulnerable. He's only races on grass twice, finishing third both times. Both of those races were at least a mile; so; shortening up could help. He finished first in his last 5 1/2 furlong race on Golden Gate's all-weather surface and second on his other trip at the distance on Santa Anita's main track.
We do think he's likely to factor in the race as he's hit the board in 10 off 11 career starts. However, his turf record has us leaning more towards an in-the-money finish than the top of the ticket.
JUST GRAZED ME (PP: 4 ML 4-1) is next on the odds tote-board and our top pick. He finished second in his last as the chalk. It was at Santa Anita running at today's distance and surface. The Philip D'Amato trainee has had success on the Acadia, California track and at the distance.
The five-year-old has two wins and the aforementioned second at Santa Anita with three wins, a second and third at the distance. All the 5 1/2 furlong runs were on turf. D'Amato bounces back at a healthy 27% with beaten favorites making JUST GRAZED ME a top of the ticket candidate.
Stealthediamonds as Santa Anita
STEALTHEDIAMONDS (PP: 9 ML 5-1) is another that seems to prefer turf sprints. She has four wins and a third in six races at 5 or 5 1/2 furlongs on grass. Otherwise, she has a pair of Ws in 11 races at any other lengths.
She's making her first start since a wire-to-wire win in a 5 1/2 furlongs, Santa Anita turf race. She'll be one of the pacesetters and will be difficult to pass if she has the lead heading into the stretch as she's won four of her last six with the lead but faded in two of three at today's distance. Because of her sprint record, STEALTHEDIAMONDS is also a top of the ticket candidate but not standalone as she has faded in races where she's gone out too fast, 21 and change in the opening quarter.
BRANDONTHEBARTENDER (PP: 3 ML 5-1) is making the classic third start after a layoff. Now, it's not been a big winner for trainer Craig Dollase, just 7%. However, BRANDONTHEBARTENDER appears to be repeating the same cycle this time compared to the last third race time off the bench. In both, he posted a higher speed figure in the first race than the second. In the previous three race cycle, he bounced back big time in run number three.
If he follows the same path today, he'll put a number good enough to collect a check. That's something he's done with regularity in turf sprints, three wins, three places and three shows in 11 outings. He's got just one win in his last 10; therefore, BRANDONTHEBARTENDER is more likely to fill out exotic tickets that lead them.
Our handicapper suggested a 3,4,7,9 Exacta Box for our subscribers.
Good luck at the races!
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