Quills Picks Winners – Tuesday 12/26 – Santa Anita Opening Day

By Joe Quillen

Tuesday 12/26/23 – Santa Anita Opening Day

Santa Anita

Merry Christmas everyone, and welcome back to Quills Picks Winners, as we celebrate the holiday that is Santa Anita’s opening day. There’s 11 races on tap for the traditional opener, and I’ll take a look at a few of the races here.

First race I’ll look at is the third race, which is the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes going a mile and an eighth on the turf. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you when you see the start of this race, as this race starts on the dirt for about 30 feet or so.

Easter (#2, 8/5 morning line favorite) won at Del Mar last month in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit, but the intriguing change is that this gelding goes from the H. Graham Motion barn to Phil D’Amato. This horse is very talented, and won his last two races after slow starts. The 5 Tio Magico (3/1 ML) should be on the lead with the 6 Astronaut (4/1) may be on the lead or not far off. But this doesn’t appear to be a tough race for Easter. I’ll go $10 to win on Easter in the third.

Race 5 is the Grade 1 American Oaks for three-year-old fillies going a mile and a quarter on the turf. With Santa Anita’s land, they will be on the hill, but not all the way up. The 2 Anisette (8/5 morning line favorite) closed willingly at this distance two back and should not have much of an issue. But one thing I look for if I can find it is some quirky stuff from time to time.

In America, it’s not that common that the girls race against the boys but the 6 Be Your Best (7/2 ML) may have finished eighth last time out against the boys, but only lost by less than two lengths. She also had some traffic issues in the Twilight Derby, and with less horses, you would that would benefit this filly. I’m saying $20 to win on the 6 Be Your Best here in the fifth race.

The next race is the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes going a mile and a sixteenth on the main track. There isn’t much in the past performances for Subsanador (#5, 9/5 ML favorite), at least according to the Daily Racing Form. I was lucky enough to find his previous three dirt races through the TVG platform, and he looks like a horse that will stalk if he needs do and be there at the end.

He might be distance limited to a mile and an eighth as last time out in July, he held on in a Group 2 race in Argentina. But there isn’t much in this race. As long as he doesn’t get sucked up into the speed duel that could happen with the 2 Salesman (5/2 ML), the 3 Brickyard Ride (6/1 ML) and the 4 Newgrange(3/1 ML), he should show that Argentinian form. I’m putting $20 on the 5 Sunsanador hoping that I can get some halfway decent odds. Also add a $10 6/5 double from the fifth to the sixth race as well.

Santa Anita

We skip ahead to race 8 which is the Grade 1 Malibu going 7 furlongs on the main track. There’s speed in this race with the 2 Fort Bragg (3/1 ML), the 3 Speed Boat Beach (5/2 ML favorite), the 6 Matanzas Creek (15/1 ML) and potentially the 5 Damon’s Mound. The 7 Hejazi (3/1 ML) and the 8 Raise Cain (5/1 ML) appear to be stalking right behind the speed and should be pouncing when they turn for home. I’ll take Raise Cain to win here with a $10 win wager.

Race 9 is the Mathis Mile which is a one mile turf race here, and I’m all in on the favorite Almendares (#4, 2/1 ML favorite) here. There is some speed here, and remember the Twilight Derby? He finished fifth in that race that my fifth race pick Be Your Best ran in. $10 on Almendares if Be Your Best does NOT win, and $20 on the 4 if she does win that fifth race.

Finally, the tenth race is the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes, which is the filly equivalent of the Malibu. We have 10 fillies here. This race is setting up nicely for Howl (#3, 4/1 ML) and the 4 Big Pond (5/1 ML). It appear that there will be speed up front with several fillies, including the 3-to-1 morning line fave Clearly Unhinged. Howl got to the races late in her three-year-old year and did not disappoint in her two races at Kenneland and Laurel. I think the combination of Flavien Prat and Brad Cox will prevail here. $20 to win on the 3 here.

Hope everyone got what they wanted and then some for Christmas, and hope you get some winners today at Santa Anita! Good luck everyone, and my summary of picks are below for easier reference. If one of my picks are scratched, consider it a “no wager” from yours truly.

Tuesday 12/26 Santa Anita summary

  • Race 3: $10 to win on the 2 Easter
  • Race 5: $20 to win on the 6 Be Your Best
    $10 double in race 5: 6/5
  • Race 6: $20 to win on the 5 Subsanador
  • Race 8: $10 to win on the 8 Raise Cain
  • Race 9: Conditional Pick
    $20 on the 4 Almendares if the race 5 win wager wins
    $10 win wager if the race 5 win wager does not win
  • Race 10: $20 to win on the 3 Howl

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Santa Anita

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