Santa Anita Horses To Watch Dec. 31

DEVIL MADE ME DOIT (December 28): Two year old colt for Doug O’Neill made his debut in Saturday’s opener and couldn’t have been more impressive. Bet down from a M/L of 4/1 to the post time favorite at 3/2, he broke running under Gutierrez and set all of the fractions in 22.42 and 45.22. He turned for home with a one length lead and when the rider asked him, he opened up, all under a hand ride. He went on to win by 9 and was geared down the final 50 yards. The final time was 1:10.29 on a very dull racing surface. He is bred for turf and distance so this son of Daredevil could be any kind. Up the ladder.
BRILL (December 28): Three year old filly for Don Chatlos, who hadn’t been to the post in six months and had never tried the turf in 7 starts, came out running under Mike Smith in the ungraded Lady Shamrock stakes Saturday at a mile on the lawn. Off at 7/2 in a field of 8, she got a nice breather by Smith in the second quarter, slowing down the pace with 24.58 split. When the stretch runners came to her at the quarter pole and she was headed, she responded and quickly opened up two, all under a hand ride. She won by two at the wire, but it could have been more as the rider didn’t squeeze the lemon dry. It looks like this daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has finally found her calling. They paid one million for her back in 2017, and though the water will get deeper for her having to take on older, she appears to be up to the task. Tab and follow. EXCELLENT SUNSET (December 28): Five year old mare, who was transferred from the Anna Meah barn to Richie Baltas, started in the Grade 3 Robert Frankel stakes on Saturday at 9 furlongs on the lawn. Breaking from the two hole under Rosario, and receiving a lot of “late money” in the wagering, she was covered up and kept off the pace on the rail by the rider. She checked while in traffic at the 3/8 pole, looked loaded turning for home while still on the fence, checked again at the 1/8 pole while in heavy traffic, and never did get a chance to run. Rosario had a number of chances to get her off the rail, but I guess he thought a seam would open up. It never did until very late, but by then the race was over. She finished third only beaten a length but was at least two lengths better than this field. Rosario is a strong rider on the turf and normally he will swing a horse wide and let them finish. This is a huge barn switch moving from Meah, a 7% trainer, to Baltas, who is one of the top turf trainers on the circuit. She fits well in any stakes less than a Grade 1 and this mare is as honest as they come. Look for Baltas to find a spot for her in January or February. LIL MILO (December 29): Four year old gelding for Alfredo Marquez tried the second allowance condition on Sunday at five and a half on the turf for 3 and up. Off at 3/1 in a field of 8 and breaking from the two hole, he broke running under Baze and laid third down the back side. Baze kept him on the fence, as he always does, and was loaded with horse turning for home and nowhere to run. He checked a number of times inside the 1/8 pole and never did get out. He finished third beaten a length and a half and never got to run the final two furlongs. He is good enough to win this condition. Look for a rider switch in his next start, to either Prat or Bejarano. Be ready. NOBLE HEARTED (December 29): Two year old filly for Peter Eurton made her second start in Sunday’s 4th, a maiden special weight event at a mile on the turf. Off at 10/1 and bet down from a M/L of 20/1 in a full field, she broke well and sat third into the clubhouse turn. Bejarano kept her on the rail throughout and she tracked the leaders into the stretch, came out with a good run in the lane, and finished a non threatening third, beaten two and a half at the wire. She showed improved team drills coming into this race and Eurton takes his time with young horses. She likes the turf and has made steady progress since her 8th place finish in her debut. Next time should be her best race and she appears to be sitting on go. She still has very good wagering value and looks set for brackets.
By Rod Young (Turfdom)