TODAY’S BEST (Jan. 14, 2011, Santa Anita)

6th Race - #1 TASHZARA x #4 MUTALLY BENEFIT x #8 KHENDUM
These three are the main contenders (and first three favorites on the morning line) and they’re difficult to separate, but of the three we would slightly prefer Mutually Benefit. The daughter of Dynaformer ran very well under similar circumstance two races back when second while earning a solid 80 Beyer figure but regressed in her most recent race when unplaced in an off-the-turfer. She’s back on the sod today, continues to train in sharp style for Proctor, and retains Gomez, who may (or may not) have opted for her over Tashzara. She’ll be little value, though, if she leaves at less than her 3-1 morning line odds. Tashzara, in the money in all three of her starts since being imported from England, has improving speed figures, the good inside draw, gains Rosario, and sports a steady work tab for her first start since late November. She’s the 9/5 morning line favorite and deservedly so. Khendum gets the worst of the draw but she ran quite well over this turf course last year and is another whose recent workouts indicate she’s ready to fire her best shot. Tough race, and to be safe you’d probably be wise to include all three in your rolling exotics.

7th Race - #1 STACY’S HOPE x #2 MOONLARK
These two met Nov. 14 at Hollywood Park and Stacy’s Hope produced the last run to win going away in a visually impressive performance. Moonlark franked the form by earning a whopping 104 Beyer figure while dismantling a good field in an abbreviated sprint the following month while able to control the race from gate to wire. We like him right back, although he might have to deal with #6 Bradium, who switches to P. Val and likely will apply pace pressure throughout. If these two hook up in a speed duel again, Stacy’s Hope could once again produce the last run. We’ll use the best speed and the best closer in our rolling exotics and hope to survive. If you feel a need to go a bit deeper, consider #4 Square Eddie, who has been working up a storm for his first start in more than a year. He’s got plenty of back class, and has fired fresh in the past. We’re taking a stand against him, though, hoping that he’ll need a race to shake off the rust. We’ll see.