Handicapping Picks for 12/31/2011

Race #8 - Rating = 2
#2 Turbulent Descent - Fair odds 9/5
#7 Great Hot - Fair odds 5/2
#6 Sugarinthemorning - Fair odds 4/1
#3 May Day Rose - Fair odds 4/1

Turbulent Descent was a perfect three-for-three at the seven furlong distance of the La Brea before an effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in which she rallied from eighth to gain the lead briefly in the stretch before being passed and ending up fifth of 12. Prior to that, Turbulent Descent earned a career best 111 Equibase Speed Figure when winning the Test Stakes at seven furlongs and against three-year-olds only, which are the conditions she faces today. Turbulent Descent showed a liking for this track when victorious in the Santa Anita Oaks this past March, earning a 106 figure. As such, by repeating either of those efforts, Turbulent Descent is the one to beat in the La Brea Stakes.

Great Hot, like Turbulent Descent, moves back to three-year-olds only after running in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Prior to her 11th place Breeders’ Cup effort, Great Hot won the Raven Run Stakes at seven furlongs in game fashion and just prior to that she earned a career best 109 figure when third in the Lady’s Secret Stakes. Great Hot has won at Santa Anita and her best effort appears good enough to give Turbulent Descent a battle down to the wire in this event.

Sugarinthemorning has yet to win a graded stakes but she did win the non-graded Manhattan Beach Stakes and then the Fleet Treat Stakes in succession in June and July. Following the Fleet Treat, Sugarinthemorning led late and finished just three-quarters of a length behind Great Hot when second in the Torrey Pines Stakes, earning a 104 figure in the process. With her only starts since the Torrey Pines being on turf and irrelevant when assessing her chances on the main track, Sugarinthemorning could have a say in the outcome of the La Brea by returning to top main track form.

May Day Rose is one more filly to consider in the La Brea, as she won the Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita in January and the Railbird Stakes (at the distance of the La Brea) in May. Following two poor efforts in July and October, May Day Rose returned to competitive form with defeat by a head in the Chilukki Stakes and enters the La Brea with a decent shot of repeating or bettering the 102 figure effort put forth in the Railbird, which could see her right there on the wire with the other main contenders.
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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.