The first Saturday of 2021 should be a good racing day across the US. BetOnline has seven race tracks offering cards for wagering on Saturday. In comparison to most Saturdays, it’s kind of a slow day, but there is more than enough racing for me. Santa Anita Park has the biggest races of the weekend in California. The running of the $200,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes (Gr. 2) was on New Year’s Day at Santa Anita Park.
Hembree won the first $200,000 stakes race of the holiday weekend at Santa Anita. Saturday is the running of the $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes (Gr. 2). The $100,000 Sham Stakes (Gr. 3) is also expected to be run today. That event is so lopsided in favor of Bob Baffert’s Life Is Good that the Sham Stakes is unbettable unless you are including it in a multi-bet.
There is a total of $712,000 in prize money available across nine races at Santa Anita Park. We will play three horses and hope for the best. Check out our Tampa Bay Downs page for more horse racing picks. Head below for our free Santa Anita Park picks for January 2, 2021.
Post Time: 1:34 p.m. PST
Race 3 is a 6-furlong event for a $61,000 purse. A ten-horse field is expected to participate in this race. Smitten by Kitten and Freedom Flyer are likely winners in this race. Smitty by Kitten is making her debut on Saturday with some hype behind her. The $115,000 filly has been working hard to get ready as a first-time runner today. Smitten by Kitten was at her best in her most recent workout on December 27.
She was clocked at 1:00.60 at 5 furlongs in that outing. Smitten by Kitten is trending in the right direction and should give a good effort in this one. Freedom Flyer has four races of experience on her resume. After finishing 5th in her debut at Del Mar on September, Freedom Flyer has been in good form with three straight performances in the top-3. She placed 2nd behind Plum Sexy for a $55,000 purse on October 12.
In her most recent showing, Freedom Flyer showed 3rd in a $42,000 event on December 5. For a $450,000 horse, more is expected out of Freedom Flyer. She could be a late bloomer, though, so not one to write off. Freedom Flyer is up in class in this race, but I wouldn’t necessarily say the competition is any tougher. In fact, I think this is easier than the $42,000 race she entered a month ago. I will back Freedom Flyer for the win in Race 3.
Post Time: 2:05 p.m. PST
Race 4 is a 6-furlong event for a $36,000 purse on Saturday. This is the smallest race of the day, but I think we can do something with it at Santa Anita. Little Miss Ellie and Claro Que Si could duel from the outside in this event. Little Miss Ellie is 1 for 4 in her career and placed in three of the races she didn’t win.
She opened her career placing 2nd in three straight performances. Little Miss Ellie was knocking on the door at the wire, and broke through in her most recent race on October 16. She beat Capital Heat by 1 ½ lengths for a $32,000 purse in that one.
Claro Que Si has been in the top-3 in three out of four races, with a win on October 11 over Ship’s Creek by 5 ½ lengths. Following that outing, Claro Que Si showed 3rd in a $35,000 event on November 22. Despite the loss, she could have very easily won. Claro Que Si lost by two noses in a photo finish at the wire. She was within easy reaching distance of a win. Consider a look at Claro Que Si in Race 4.
Race 7 – San Gabriel Stakes
Post Time: 3:35 p.m. PST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
The feature race of the day in the US is Race 7 at Santa Anita Park. It should be a quality race between Count Again and Anothertwistafate for the top prize out of this $200,000 purse. The San Gabriel Stakes will cover 1 ⅛ miles on the turf. This is a grass race. Anothertwistafate is 4 for 9 and has one graded win on his resume.
He beat Five Star General by 4 ½ lengths in the $100,000 Longacres Mile Handicap (Gr. 3). However, other races have proven to be much more difficult. Anothertwistafate has failed to win anything above the Grade 3 level. He finished 10th in the Preakness Stakes (Gr. 1), and most recently, 4th in the $200,000 Seabiscuit Stakes (Gr. 2) on November 28 at Del Mar.
Count Again is 4 for 8 and won the Seabiscuit Stakes against Anothertwistafate. It was the second win in three outings for Count Again, who also won the $125,000 Singspiel Stakes (Gr. 3) on September 19 by 1 ¼ lengths. In the Seabiscuit Stakes, Count Again edged out Sir Sahib by ¾ lengths in an impressive display from a horse that wasn’t expected to be near the front.
The only race Count Again hasn’t won since September 19 was the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Gr. 1). Count Again finished 4th in that tougher race, and for it being a Grade 1 assignment, I wouldn’t say Count Again did that poorly. He weakened in that longer distance, but this isn’t as long and we saw how much better Count Again can be on those terms in the Seabiscuit Stakes. I will side with Count Again to score the top prize in the San Gabriel Stakes.