Santa Anita Picks: Ben’s Duchess Looks Tough in Santa Monica

A field of nine line up in Saturday's Santa Monica (G2) at Santa Anita. (Photo credit: © Cheryl Quigley |

A field of nine line up in Saturday’s Santa Monica (G2) at Santa Anita. (Photo credit: © Cheryl Quigley |

A field of nine fillies and mares will line up in the only graded stakes race in the U.S. on Saturday, the $200,000 Santa Monica (G2) at seven furlongs on the main track.

Ben’s Duchess is the 5-2 morning line favorite and appears the one to beat. The John Sadler trainee exits the La Brea (G1) where the daughter of Munnings pressed the early pace and weekend to finish fourth, beaten four lengths for the top spot.

Her job got a bit easier with the defection of Sunday Rules, winner of seven of her eight starts. The mare was not entered after her connections discovered an inflamed hock which will keep her on the sidelines on Saturday.

Prize Exhibit is an intriguing contender. The James Cassidy trainee drew the rail and will be making her debut on dirt. She has won five times on turf and won her lone start on a synthetic surface.

The snowstorm has knocked out racing at Aqueduct, Laurel Park, Charles Town and Penn National for Saturday, but we have a solid 11-race betting card on tap at Gulfstream Park.

On Thursday I came up with four winners on top and Friday we had six winners on top.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes his eight strongest plays from Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita.

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


Santa Anita Race 8 The Santa Monica G2 (Post time 4:03 PT)

#2 Ben’s Duchess   5-2

#6 Room for Me   3-1

#1 Prize Exhibit   4-1

#7 Living the Life   6-1

Analysis: Ben’s Duchess pressed the early pace and weakened to finish fourth in the La Brea (G1) last out over the main track here off nearly a three-month break. She won the LA Woman (G3) two back matching her career top speed figure. She has won three of her six trips over the main track and she owns solid early and mid pace numbers. Looking for her to bounce back her with a better effort facing easier.

Room for Me ships in from New York for the Jacobson barn that has gone 0 for 8 at the meeting here. Last out the mare was bumped coming out of the gate, tracked the early pace and finished evenly in a third place finish in the Interborough, beaten 3 3/4 lengths by the talented La Verdad. This gal started her career in Southern California and has won three of four starts over the main track here. She has won just one of her last five starts, taking the Bed of Roses two back on the main track at the Big A. With Garcia taking the call she should be forwardly placed as there is not a ton of early speed signed up to go here.

Prize Exhibit is coming off a victory in the Monrovia (G2) going 6 1/2 on the downhill turf course. This will be her first trip on dirt in her career. She has worked well over the main tack for the Cassidy barn that is 18% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from turf to dirt. I’m not crazy about the rail draw as she has never had to worry about having dirt in her face.


WIN: #2 to win at 2-1 or better.

EX: 2,6 / 1,2,6,7

TRI: 2,6 / 1,2,6,7 / 1,2,6,7,9


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