We’re back at Santa Anita Park on Sunday after coming close to nailing the Pick 5 and kind of close to hitting the Rainbow Pick 6 on Saturday. One pick away from the Pick 5 and two away from the Pick 6. We were in the right ballpark, but couldn’t get the big payoff. In any event, if you played some of those picks straight up to win, then you had a nice day regardless.
And while the multi-bet at Santa Anita Park came up just short, Churchill Downs was a success on the Pick 3. It’s exciting to see more race tracks open across North America, with Charles Town, Santa Anita Park, and Churchill Downs all reopening this weekend after having to close because of the coronavirus.
There are more to come that are just on the horizon. By early June, Belmont and Woodbine are expecting to open the track to racing. Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, indicated that tracks in the state can operate and hold events in June as well. Fortunately, that’s a complete 180 from the situation in New York only a month ago.
Aqueduct was being outfitted as a temporary field hospital to handle an influx of potential cases. That was going to host up to 1200 patients, though the best-case scenario happened and it wasn’t needed. Before we get to June, there’s still plenty of action available in the US. Head below for our free Santa Anita Pick 3 and Pick 5 selections for May 17, 2020. For the purpose of today, we’re handicapping Race 1-3 for the Pick 3 and Race 1-5 for the Pick 5.
Post Time: 12:30 p.m. PST
Distance: 5 ½ Furlongs
Race 1 will kick off our Pick 3 and Pick 5 card on Sunday at Santa Anita Park. 11 horses will arrive at the gate looking for the top prize of a fairly big $51,000 purse. Lofty and Querelle are likely going to have competitive races in this one, while Nice Ice might be good for an upset selection. Nice Ice has won 2 of 15 races in her career and is looking for No. 3 today in an upset bid. She is coming off what could have been a better effort on June 15, 2019, finishing 5th, which ushered in a long layoff.
Nice Ice hasn’t been a winner since the summer of 2018 at Del Mar. Since that win, Nice Ice has finished in the top-2 in just 2 of 8 outings. Having said that, she has been blazing hot in workouts, having completed 5 furlongs at 58.40 seconds and 58.80 seconds with urging in April and May. If the layoff helped her and she is in good form today, then Nice Ice is going to be an upset candidate that most are ignoring.
Querelle is heading into Sunday with confidence after finishing 1st and 2nd. She notched the win on February 21 by 1 ½ lengths over Smiling Annie, and then followed that up on March 7 to place behind Tijori by a neck. The double was close for Querelle, but he just missed out on back-to-back wins. In that kind of form, Querelle is not going to be one to ignore in Race 1. If Lofty has an off day on Sunday, then a win seems logical.
However, Lofty will have to lose form her previous races after recording a hat-trick. Lofty is a winner in three straight races and has won 3 of 5 career outings in her career. She won wire-to-wire by 4 ½ lengths in a clinic in January. Followed that up with another easy wire-to-wire win by 4 ¾ lengths, and then finally in March won by 1 ¾ lengths in a more competitive race. This is going to be competitive on Sunday, but Lofty should have them beat.
Post Time: 1:02 p.m. PST
Distance:4 ½ Furlongs
A short race featuring 4 ½ furlongs for a $50,000 purse should be between Self Isolation, Love Wins, and Miss Glorious. These three are likely going to duel at the top of the stretch, with a potential surprise contender like Judy With Grace getting involved in the mix. Judy With Grace is a first-time starter in this one and could be a wildcard.
In fact, this is a race reserved for the youngsters that don’t have experience. She had a decent workout on May 8 for a time of 48.40 seconds with urging out of the gate at 4 furlongs. However, this filly is bred for longer distances and may not care for 4 ½ furlongs.
There are three likely suspects in this race that are going to have bold bids, though. Self Isolation will compete in this one. She recently completed a 4-furlong workout at 49.40 seconds and 50 seconds, both urging from the gate. At 3 furlongs in April, Self Isolation completed 3 furlong at 38.80 seconds and 37.80 seconds with urging. Miss Glorious is coming off a 4-furlong workout with urging at 48.80 seconds and 3-furlong workout at 36.40 seconds, which was a pretty impressive time.
Love Wins beat that in a couple of recent workouts at 3 furlongs. She was clocked at 35.40 seconds and 36.20 seconds. At 4 furlongs, Love Wins completed that workout with a time of 48 seconds. This should be a close race. However, if Love Wins brings the same form from her training sessions, she will be the one to beat.
Post Time: 1:33 p.m. PST
6 furlongs for a $51,000 purse in Race 3 at Santa Anita Park on Sunday. Afternoon Heat, Quick Finish, and I Belong to Becky are horses to have on your shortlist. I Belong to Becky might need to hope for an off day for Afternoon Heat, but he does have 2 wins in her last 4 races on the resume. Having said that, I Belong to Becky is coming off a lackluster performance on February 16 to finish 10th. In his win on January 3, I Belong to Becky was in fine form to win by 6 ¼ lengths in an easy win. Overall, I Belong to Becky has 3 wins in 19 races, so most of his wins have been since November. His first win was recorded on October 7, 2018.
Drayden Van Dyke will be on Quick Finish, so that makes her a horse to investigate further. Quick Finish has been rather inconsistent, though, with wins in 2 of 11 outings. His most recent win was on November 18, 2018. While he’s been inconsistent throughout her career, Quick Finish went on a long layoff after finishing 10th on May 11, 2019. His return to the gate was met with a solid performance on March 14. Quick Finish placed in 2nd, though would have been better suited at 6 furlongs in that race than 6 ½ . She faded in the stretch and was ultimately topped by 4 ¼ lengths by Silken Prince. Unlikely to kick off the field in the stretch in this event.
Afternoon Heat has been hot and the most consistent performer in Race 3. She has finished in the top-3 in all of her 9 career races. That includes a win on January 5 by 3 ½ lengths over Brace for Impact, and in her most recent effort on March 8. Afternoon Heat was a winner by 2 ¼ lengths. He has never ran a bad race in his whole career, which started on July 5, 2019 at Los Alamitos. I’m concerned with Van Dyke spoiling the day for Afternoon Heat on Quick Finish, but it’s hard to argue with his results.
Post Time: 2:04 p.m. PST
Distance:5 ½ Furlongs
5 ½ furlongs to decide a winner in Race 4 at Santa Anita on Sunday. Liberalism, Lovely Finish, and Ole Silver are on my shortlist for this one. Ole Silver has the longest odds of that trio at +600 from the No. 2 post. She gets a fortunate starting position from the No. 2 spot and should benefit from Drayden Van Dyke on board. Ole Silver is making her debut in this one as a first-time starter. She did a couple of workouts in May, with times of 1:02.20 and 1:01.00 with urging at 5 furlongs.
Liberalism goes into Sunday after two promising starts, though it’s been a lengthy layoff as she gets her first outing today since August 15, 2019. That said, if Liberalism brings the same form from last summer to the party, then things will get interesting. Liberalism placed in his debut to finish 2 ¼ lengths behind Smiling Shirlee. He followed that up to place again in August to complete the 5 ½ race ¾ lengths behind I Want One. 5 ½ furlongs won’t be a problem at all. Liberalism just had a 6-furlong workout, completing it at 1:12.40 on May 6. Prior to that outing, Liberalism completed 5 furlongs with a time of 1:00.80.
Lovely Finish has made recent entries and has been sharp. Dating back to his debut on November 5, 2017, Lovely Finish has finished in the top-3 in five races. In 3 of 5 races, Lovely Finish has placed in 2nd though is still searching for that coveted first win. In her latest race, after a year and a half off, Lovely Finish showed plenty of kick in the stretch, but came 2 ¼ lengths short of Big Sweep for the win. Big Sweep is a tremendous horse. He just won the Eddie Echo Stakes in an impressive performance yesterday. Losing to Big Sweep is nothing to feel down about. There won’t be a horse of that caliber in the field today. Look for Lovely Finish to continue on Sunday with another strong performance.
Post Time: 2:35 p.m. PST
As is usually the case at Santa Anita Park, another handsome purse worth $50,000 is on offer. This will be a 1-mile event featuring 13 colts and geldings. Bud Knight is the favorite in this race, but is going to be joined by some competitive challengers in Race 4. Unusually Handsome and Tropical Terror should both be involved and are capable of winning at a mile.
Bud Knight is winless in eight races, but could certainly pop all the way to the winner’s circle if he’s in the right form. He’s coming off a solid performance to place in 2nd on February 9. Bud Knight trailed Sea of Liberty at a half length at the wire. It’s only the second time in his eight-race career that Bud Knight has placed. The other instance was on October 11, 2019 to lose by 1 ¼ lengths behind Coast of Roan.
Besides those races, Bud Knight has been inconsistent with finishes of 5th, 3rd, 7th, 7th, 3rd, and 5th two starts ago. Unusually Handsome enters with a couple of solid performances on July 17, 2019 and March 15. The long layoff may have bothered Unusually Handsome but the rust should be gone now. He may have finished 3rd in his most recent performance, but don’t be fooled, there were only three other horses racing. In three other races in his career, Unusually Handsome has finished 4th, 8th, 6th.
Tropical Terror is worth a serious look in this one. He has been a consistent producer and hasn’t shown the ability to run a bad race. Tropical Terror is always stalking, but hasn’t been able to finish the deal and strike, though. Against a beatable field on Sunday, today could be that day. Tropical Terror has been good for the top-3 in four straight races. In 3 of those 4 races, Tropical Terror placed in 2nd. As a first-time starter he finished 5th, but has been a consistent performer since that opener in October. One of the most well-known jockeys in the world, Victor Espinoza, will be on Tropical Terror in this event. The consistency may pay off well for Tropical Terror in Race 5.