Santa Anita Park has the biggest race in the country on Saturday. I know, the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs might get most of the attention, but the biggest purse is on the west coast in Santa Anita. The Charles Whittingham Stakes comes with a $200,000 purse on Saturday at Santa Anita park. That’s $50,000 more than the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Santa Anita Park is hosting two stakes races on this card, with the Daytona Stakes running for a $100,000 purse. If you want unlimited stakes racing action, then Churchill Downs has what you want, though. There are five stakes races on that racecard. We have you covered at Churchill Downs as well today with our Pick 5 and Single 6 selections.
The weather is expected to be beautiful in Santa Anita this weekend. A high of 79F with sunny skies throughout the entire racecard on Saturday. Expect a fast track for these nine races. If you’re just looking for a pick on the Charles Whittingham Stakes then you’re in luck because we have a selection for Race 8 at Santa Anita Park in this one. Head below for our free Santa Anita Park selections for May 23, 2020.
Post Time: 1:02 p.m. PST
Distance: 1 Mile
We’ll get started with Race 2 at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. This is a small field of six horses looking for the top prize in a $50,000 purse. It’s a nice payout, so this race will attract some competitive horses. Divine Armor, Muralist, and Believe Now will all likely finish near the front, with one of them the winner.
Believe Now made his debut on March 7 and was strong enough to earn consideration for this race. He was unable to get into the top-3, but it was a solid run as a first-time starter against a tough field. Candy Fury finished a head in front of Believe Now to show. Believe Now could easily build on that effort and do better here.
Muralist has raced in five races in his career and placed in two straight. He’s placed in 3 of his previous 4 races, so the form has been there for Muralist. On January 30 Muralist finished ¾ lengths behind Go Daddy Go. As the heavy favorite in his next race, more was expected out of him, though.
Muralist finished ¾ lengths behind Strike a Pose in an event he should have won. Likely going to be in contention again, but will need to be better than that effort. Divine Armor has been in the top-3 in all four races in his career. He enters today having placed in three straight races.
To get that streak going, Divine Armor was 2nd behind Tizamagician by 2 ½ lengths in January. Solid bid in the stretch to go from 5th at the top of the stretch to 2nd at the wire. Following that performance, Divine Armor came back a month later for a repeat effort to finish a length behind Rushie. That was followed by a closer race a couple of weeks later, with Divine Armor losing by a neck against Kiss Today Goodbye. That would be good enough for a win against this competition on Saturday. Look for Divine Armor to win a close race.
Post Time: 1:35 p.m. PST
You can make this a Daily Double with Race 2 and 3 if that’s the direction you want to go. Race 3 features another nice purse, with this $1,000 larger than Race 2. However, this will be on the turf, whereas Race is on dirt. Liar Liar, Margot’s Boy, and Distant Vista will be on most shortlists in this event.
Indian Peak might be able to steal one here, but is going to need to catch a break somewhere along this mile. Margot’s Boy is coming off back-to-back wins on January 12 and February 16, both at Santa Anita Park. It was a nice improvement for Margot’s Boy after finishing 5th in his debut on November 14, 2019 at Del Mar.
Margot’s Boy beat Rock and Salt by 2 ¾ lengths and then followed up with another win by 1 ¼ lengths over Johnny Podres. After finding success there, Margot’s Boy will try his hand in a race that is likely going to be a bit trickier. He’s not taking a huge jump in class, but there are a couple of horses in this race that could easily beat him in this spot.
Distant Vista is making his debut in the US on Saturday after four races in Ireland. He finished 9th, 9th, 5th, and 1st in his most recent outing on December 13, 2019. Distant Vista loves to run on the grass, which will work in his favor as a first-time starter on an American track.
Liar Liar follows Distant Vista from Ireland to the US and loves the grass tracks, too. He, however, has made seven starts in the US already. Liar Liar made his debut in Ireland and was flown out to California. He immediately made his presence felt and finished 2nd on September 28, 2019, and then won on October 27, 2019 by a neck over K P All Systems Go.
He challenged himself in the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes in his next outing, though came up short for 5th. Liar Liar followed that race up with 3rd in the Eddie Logan Stakes and 5th in the Pasadena Stakes. This is much easier company for him on Saturday and that should be reflected in his finishing position in Race 3 on Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
Race 8 – Charles Whittingham Stakes
Post Time: 4:18p.m. PST
Distance:1 ¼ Miles
This is what most of you came for at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. The Charles Whittingham Stakes is the second graded event at Santa Anita today and the biggest. A purse of $200,000 will be on offer in the feature race of the day. One of seven horses hopes to take a stroll to the winner’s circle after 1 ¼ miles of racing. United and Originaire are my two favorite horses in this event, but Rockemperor absolutely can’t be disregarded here.
Rockemperor has 2 wins in 10 races in his career and has raced in some big events. From Ireland, Rockemperor came to the US and jumped into stakes racing right away. He’s shown in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (Gr. 1) and more recently the Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes (Gr. 2) on March 21.
Also an Irish horse, I like Originaire by a hair over Rockemperor between the two +250 horses. Originaire has been in the top-2 in three straight events. The biggest race of that group was in the Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes (Gr. 2) on December 28, 2019. He was good to place behind Mo Forza by 1 ¼ lengths. In his most recent outing, Rockemperor won in a much easier assignment on February 29. He won by 5 ¼ lengths over North County Guy in an allowance optional claiming event.
The two Irish horses will have to look out for United who should be a handful for them and the rest of the field in the Charles Whittingham Stakes. United was bred in Kentucky, and looks to live up to his home as the best region for horse racing in the world. He is coming off a really impressive performance in the San Marcos Stakes (Gr. 2) on February 1 for a win. United beat Cleopatra’s Strike by a half length after a strong bid at the top of the stretch.
He has finished in the top-3 in six straight performances. All four of his previous events were graded events in the John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (Gr. 2), Breeders’ Cup Turf (Gr. 1), and Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (Gr. 2) along with the San Marcos Stakes. United placed in two of those races leading up to his win. United is a winner in 4 of 12 career races and should be in prime form Saturday. He looks like the winner of the Charles Whittingham Stakes in 2020.