TODAY’S BEST (Jan. 16, 2011, Santa Anita)

EIGHTH RACE – #2 BLIND LUCK x #3 MALIBU PIER
Blind Luck will earn an Eclipse Award tomorrow evening in Florida; today she’ll be a short priced favorite to return to winning form in the El Encino Stakes. Freshened and working in superb style since rallying to be second in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, the Hollendorfer-trained filly came off a similar vacation last year to win the Las Virgenes Stakes and figures to fire her best shot once again. She deserves to be 4/5 on the morning line but #3 Malibu Pier might be good enough to upset her. The Carla Gaines-trained filly didn’t leave clearly in the recent La Brea Stakes but steadily moved within range and kept to her task to finish an excellent second behind Switch while perhaps wanting more distance. She gets her trip today, continues to sparkle in the morning and should find herself always within striking range of a pace that probably won’t be too intense. She’ll have to run her best race yet to defeat the champion, but at 3-1 on the morning she offers a bit more value. Use them both in all of your rolling exotics and consider a straight play on Malibu Pier if she leaves somewhere around her morning line price.

NINTH RACE - #1 RESPLENDENTLY x #10 NATURALISTE
Resplendently returns to the bottom rung maiden claiming ranks following a respite of more than three months, and his condition must be questioned, but the work tab indicates he’s ready to roll and his back numbers would bury this modest group. The rail is of some concern and the distance might be bit sharp, but in a rather empty field he should be able to produce the last run. Stranger danger takes the form of Naturaliste, a first timer from the Richard Mandella barn who has worked well enough to be very competitive at this level. A nicely bred colt by Saint Liam, he finally makes it to the races at age 4 and must have problems, but his natural ability could carry him through and at 9/2 on the morning line he’s a “must use” in all of your exotic plays.