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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Maybe you hadn’t heard but, really, Santa Anita opens on Saturday. I know the weatherman plans to attend, promising sunny skies and temps in the mid-60s.

It was cold in LA this week but the atmosphere is warming up, at least in Arcadia. Six straight graded stakes, including a couple of holdovers from the December 26 postponement, and even a bone for Cal-breds early in the card.

The glamour division, for both sexes will be well represented. We’ll go out on a limb and predict the favorites for the Grade 1 Malibu and La Brea will finish second in Eclipse voting for 2019 best three-year-olds.

As for the males, whatever happens Saturday, Omaha Beach is likely to finish second in Eclipse voting behind Maximum Security.

And as for the ladies, Bellafina could win the La Brea by a short pole but she won’t be allowed to erase those two defeats to Covfefe.

Both SoCal based three-year-olds are worthy odds-on choices to end their seasons on a high note. But each has a rival–Bellafina has several rivals, in fact, that will require each to get closer to the bottom than it might appear on paper.

On a day when Santa Anita honors ‘Brooklyn Bobby’ with the Grade 3 Robert J Frankel Stakes, protege Chad Brown is bringing a stone runner to the Malibu in search of stakes credentials. At some point, Omaha Beach will know he’s in a horse race.

Before taking a very short price on the dual G1 Arkansas Derby and SA Sprint Championship winner, check out the video of Complexity’s win in New York November 20.

Jose Ortiz, who gives way to Javier Castellano here, turned on a swivel repeatedly into and after entering the lane. If I could interpret his language, it wasn’t as if he was wondering where the horse to beat was. He was riding him. It was like ‘no one’s coming close and I’m just sitting still’. Check it out.

The final time was fast and wasn’t set up by suicidal fractions. And it wasn’t so slow that the Malibu horses will run away from him on the backside. Omaha Beach has proven class, conditioning, experience and a better post. He’s owns a string of bullet works, his last a real speed sharpener.

Complexity is making his third start this year, this time off reasonable, barn-pattern spacing and Chad knows how to ship to California and win. He made his assistant-trainer bones here. Yes, he beat NX2 optional claimers in Queens but he gets four pounds and did win the G1 2018 Champagne.

Same story with Bellafina, whose challengers might not be as strong as the Complexity v Omaha Beach match, but there are more of them. Bellafina is super solid. The BC F&M Sprint runnerup has a (5) 4-1-0 slate in Arcadia and seven-eighths looks like her best go. She’s a three-time Grade 1 winner.

But Bell’s the One announced herself in Keeneland’s Raven Run at the trip and was pointed here. Runnerup First Star made ‘Bell’ work for it, and also was directly pointed. Hard Not to Love is a well-named 3-for-4 lifetime and John Shirreffs is winning everything in sight. All get a couple of pounds.

The favorites in these Grade 1s for three-year-olds are very strong and should win. But these are not walkovers. If you think they are, invest $2 in the Pick 3, book-ending the favorites around Excellent Sunset and Mirth in the Frankel.

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