Horse racing best bets for Keeneland and Santa Anita


Weekend horse racing handicapper best bets from Mike Somich

Just 13 days left until the Breeders’ Cup gates bust open at Santa Anita! In the meantime, we have some quality Saturday racing at Keeneland and Santa Anita! Make sure to check the conditions over at Keeneland. A rainstorm came through and took the races off the turf and turned a great card into an average one. One standout from that card that I added to my stable was the #11 Spirit’s Mischief from Wesley Ward. The two-year-old colt looked like a future stakes winner, demolishing a large field with ease in his second career start while getting a less-than-ideal trip from the 11 post.


Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes – Keeneland, Saturday, Race #9

Let’s kick today’s card off with one of the stakes races that are running today, the Raven Run. With seven originally signed up and two scratches, we are down to a competitive field of five horses. Your morning line favorite, #7 Alva Starr, comes into the race in great form, winning her last two in gate-to-wire fashion, including the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga. The trainer is not a household name, Brett Brinkman, but he clicks off at 14% for the year, and when he runs in stakes, his horses run well (1 for 3 on the year).

Ex-Chad Brown assistant Cherie DeVaux has been on a tear lately and looks to keep that going with #4 Vahva. Hall of Fame Jockey John Velazquez will ride back for the third time, and the trip should be perfect for this filly who wants to come from just off the pace. Every other competitor in here wants the front, so if a speed dual ensues, expect Vahva to come running late.

The longest shot on the board, #5 Apple Picker, also piqued my interest. This is the one true closer in the race and will need the rest of the field to come back to her, but at 15-1, she is worth a long look. When you have three or more horses that want the lead, if the speed of the speed does not prevail, you will often see a pace collapse, and that sets up Apple Picker at a monster number.

Picks: 7-4-5-6


$25 Win #7

$10 Exacta – #7 with #4

$10 Tri – #7 with #4 and #5 with #4 and #5


$61k MSW – Santa Anita, Saturday, Race #9

For the second race I am looking to key on today, let’s dive into a Maiden Special Weight. Just three of the 11 horses headed to the post have raced in their career, so this is a very different handicap than the stakes races we have covered in this article over the past few weeks. Bob Baffert sends out three here, #1 Urban Legend, #3 Nysos, and #6 British Isles, and he wins at a 28% clip with first-time starters. Jockeys are important to look at when you have multiple horses in a race, which points to British Isles and Urban Legend. They both have regular Baffert jocks aboard, while Nysos has a rider Baffert has only used once in the last two years.

#5 Tracker sold for $900,000 at auction, and this son of Curlin looks like a running. He blazed a workout of four furlongs in 46 4/5 on Oct 16th in preparation for this race and had been working steadily before that point. I’ve got some interest in #8 De’ Medici as well. This homebred heads to the track for Michael McCarthy, who wins 16% with first-time starters and comes off a very good workout as well. He also gets McCarthy’s go-to jockey aboard, who has won 24% of the time when they’ve teamed up this year at Santa Anita.

Picks: 5-6-1-8


$20 Win #5

$5 Trifecta – #5 and #6 with #1, #5, #6, and #8 with #1, #5, #6, #8

Spot plays:

Saturday, Santa Anita, Race #8: $20 to Win #1

Saturday, Keeneland, Race #6: $20 Trifecta 1-5-4