La Brea Kicks Off Stakes Action at Santa Anita

Santa Anita kicks off racing on Thursday with a trio of graded stakes (Photo credit:

While some horseplayers are still mourning the loss of Hollywood Park, there is plenty of betting action in Southern California as Santa Anita kicks off its winter/spring meeting on Thursday afternoon with three graded stakes starting with the $300,000 La Brea (G1).

The La Brea is the sixth race on the card and drew a field of seven three-year-old fillies including Sweet Lulu, who will likely be sent off as the betting favorite for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The filly set the pace and weakened to finish fifth last out in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).

The $200,000 Sir Beaufort (G2) drew a field of 10 three-year-olds that will go one mile on turf. Trainer Simon Callaghan will saddle 5-2 morning line favorite No Jet Lag, who is back with his age group after running sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), beaten six lengths by Wise Dan.

The final stake on the card is the $300,000 Malibu (G1) for three-year-olds going seven furlongs on the main track. It is a wide-open race that is top heavy with early speed. The speed of the speed is the Jeff Bonde trained Distictiv Passion, who set the early fractions and weakened to finish third last out in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1).

Between Thursday and April 13 there are 39 graded stakes scheduled. The track will stay open until June 29. The stakes schedule for the final two months of the meeting has not been announced yet.

There are several key preps for the Kentucky Derby (G1), including the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis (G2) on Feb. 8, the $200,000 San Vicente (G2) on Feb. 16, the $300,000 San Felipe (G2) on March 8, and the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 5.

Other big days include the Sunshine Millions Cal Cup Day card on Jan. 25 and Big ‘Cap Day on March 8 with four graded stakes highlighted by the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1).

There are two stakes carded for Saturday: the $100,000 Daytona Stakes (G3) and the $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes.

My Best Plays Report for Thursday includes my eight strongest plays from Santa Anita and Aqueduct including all of the stakes action.

Let’s head out to Santa Anita for Thursday’s featured race of the day:


Santa Anita Race 6 La Brea G1 (Post time 2:47 PT)

7 Madame Cactus   9-2

1 Sweet Lulu   8-5

4 Executiveprivilege   4-1

6 My Happy Face   7-2

Analysis: Madame Cactus comes back off a two-month break and is making just her third start of the year. She was a game second in the restricted CERF at Del Mar two back off a 10-month break, and then last out at Keeneland she came with a very wide rally to get up late and win the Raven Run (G2). The runner up in that race was Eden Prairie, who came back to win the Pago Hop at Fair Grounds in her next start. The filly broke her maiden over the main track here as a juvenile and sports a couple of quick works on the morning tab. She needs to see some pace up front and should get it.

Sweet Lulu figures to be the pacesetter. She set a sharp early pace in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) and weakened to finish fifth in her last outing. She won her first four career starts including the Test (G1) at seven furlongs this summer at the Spa. She owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and is going to be real tough in this spot.

Executiveprivilege won five of her seven starts as a juvenile including a couple of Grade 1 victories, but has made just two starts so far this year. Last out she stalked the early pace and finished evenly in a fourth place finish in the LA Woman. She comes back here with blinkers added to the mix here for the Bob Baffert barn. The trainer is 24% winners when adding the hood.


WIN: #7 to win at 4-1 or better.

EX: 1,7 / 1,4,6,7

TRI: 1,7 / 1,4,6,7 / 1,2,4,6,7


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