2015 Palos Verdes, Arcadia & Las Virgenes

January 31st Late Pick 4 at Santa Anita

Santa Anita Pick 4There are a lot of really good races this Saturday, January 31st at Santa Anita, so I thought we would take a crack at the 50 cent Late Pick 4 covering races 6-9. This will include the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes, the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes and the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes, as well as a 56k Maiden in the 9th. I will go through each race and look for the value plays and longshots, like normal and at the end of the article will be my mix of picks for the Pick 4. Let’s get started with Race 6, the Palos Verdes.

Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita

Secret CircleThe $200,000 Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes is the 6th race on the card at Santa Anita Saturday and will feature a field of 6 four year olds and up sprinting 6 furlongs. The morning line favorite is Distinctiv Passion at 2 to 1.  Distinctiv Passion is coming out of a 1 ¾ length victory in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes. This 5 year old is all about being on the lead, so look for him there right away. The next two on the morning line are Big Macher and Secret Circle at 5 to 2. Big Macher also likes the front end early and should rush out to contest Distinctiv Passion for the early lead. Secret Circle, on the other hand, likes to stalk the pace and should be up close on these two early. I’m hoping that these three go after one another pretty hard and leave an opportunity for my value play, Conquest Two Step, to “step in” and take over at the wire. He ran 2nd in his last outing in the Grade 1 Malibu and missed the win by a neck in a late move. I’m hoping that he gives a similar performance here and gets our Pick 4 rolling in the right direction. But since this is the first race of the Pick 4 and there are only 6 entries here, it might be wise to play all on this race and look for stand-out plays in the other 3 races. Let’s see.

Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita

Za ApprovalThe $200,000 Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes is the 7th race on the card and will host a field of 8 four year olds and up traveling 1 mile on the turf. The 5/2 morning line favorite is Kaigun.  Kaigun won the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar in his last outing, back in November. He came from the clouds in that race and is likely to try the same move here. Tied for the second spot in the morning line at 3 to 1 are Home Run Kitten and Za Approval. Most of the entries in this race like to make late moves, including Home Run Kitten and sometimes, Za Approval. I believe in this race that Za Approval will go for the lead early here for two different reasons. For starters, he has in the past and won. He is a good enough horse that he can be versatile like that especially under the right guidance. Which brings me to my next reason- Mike Smith gets the mount here and you better believe he will take him out there and try to wire this thing if no one goes after him. For those two reasons, I’m making Za Approval my value play. But I am a bit concerned about Avanzare. Avanzare can be just as versatile in his running style and with Gary Stevens in the irons, I have to wonder if he doesn’t give it a shot here.

Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita

Achiever's LegacyThe $300,000 Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes is the 8th race on the card. This race will feature 10 three year old fillies battling at 1 mile. The 3 to 1 favorite on the ML is Maybellene. In Maybellene’s last race, she ran third in the Grade 1 Starlet, missing the win by ¾ of a length. The fourth place finisher in the Starlet is also the next choice on the morning line at 7/2- Majestic Presence. Majestic Presence will have Gary Stevens at the helm and is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. On a side note, here at HHR we’ve always taken notice of trainers who have multiple entries in these major races (Todd Pletcher comes to mind, lol), but in this one Hollendorfer takes the cake with 5 entries! Wow. Maybe we should change the name of the race? Lol. At any rate, he’s definitely supplying a lot of competition in this one, starting with Majestic Presence. The key here is that there seems to be a lot of early speed in this one, so I’m going to go with a late running Achiever’s Legacy for my value play. Achiever’s Legacy is another Hollendorfer entry and maybe he’s setting up the win for her here. She didn’t do as well in the Starlet, but I believe she may make up for that one in this race. I’m also considering Lutine Belle (another Hollendorfer entry) as my longshot. Her speed figures have steadily improved and I believe she will put in a strong effort here.

Race 9 at Santa Anita

Santa Anita Pick 4Race 9 at Santa Anita on Saturday is the last race in our Pick 4 selections. This is a straight maiden 56k 1 mile event on the turf and will feature 12 three year old maidens, with one also eligible. The 7/2 morning line favorite is Rockin Robin. Rockin Robin ran 2nd in his last race and missed the win by 1 ½ lengths in a 1 1/8 mile turf event. The shorter distance here will help his chances, so he has to be considered. He likes to be on the lead, but in this field he won’t be alone. I look for Steam Play (4 to 1), Just Kidding (4 to 1) and Nakamoto (9/2) to be right there with him, but I would give Nakamoto the nod since he looks like he could stalk. For my longshot plays, I have to consider Miltee at 12 to 1 on the ML  and the unknown foreign invader, Solomon Northup at 12 to 1. Good luck everybody!

Late Pick 4 Selections

Race 6- All (Conquest Two Step as my value play)

Race 7- Za Approval, Avanzare

Race 8- Achiever’s Legacy, Lutine Belle, Majestic Presence

Race 9- Nakamoto, Miltee, Solomon Northup



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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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