Handicapping Picks for 12/30/2011

Race #7 - Rating = 2
#5 Lady of Shamrock - Fair odds 5/2
#7 Starship Flare - Fair odds 5/2
#8 Assure - Fair odds 4/1

For pick 3 and 4 tickets played, there’s every reason to use the “ALL” button in this wide open race.

Lady of Shamrock ships in from Kentucky and moves into the solid Sadler barn (who also trains Eva’s Joy), this gal having won smartly with a rally from 9th in a 12 horse field last out on the grass at Churchill Downs and with an effort that bodes very well for her chances today, particularly as she’s one of just three with prior experience on the turf going long. With Gomez getting on and with a sharp workout coming into the race she could go from maiden winner to stakes winner today, which is not unheard of by any means for 2 year olds at this time of year.

Starship Flare also has positive turf route experience, having just missed by a nose after leading from the start in the tougher Grade 3 Miesque Stakes at HOL at this mile turf trip. That being her first start in California (like the top pick’s is today) and first with Espinoza in the saddle, who rides again, she could move up just enough to make up for the inches she lost by on the wire in that event.

Assure posted the 30 to 1 upset in her debut as our top pick based on the fact she was related to a ton of winners on the dam’s side and the fact that trainer Capestro knows what she’s doing, and this filly has the potential to post the upset today as well so must be respected. Bred to take to turf like a duck to water (as a granddaughter of Dixieland Band) and with some of her siblings having won turf routes, as well as with a workout over the course to get familiar with it, she can’t be discarded as a contender in this situation as I personally would hate to be found kicking myself if she won and paid $60 once more without having wagered at least a couple of bucks on her.
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You can get my selections and analysis for the entire Santa Anita card at www.equibase.com, www.trackmaster.com as well as at the Xpressbet, Twinspires, Keeneland Select and TVG handicapping stores.