Best Horse Racing Bets for Saturday, January 15, 2022

| January 14, 2022 12:29 pm PST

Nine of the eleven races I assess for my Saturday picks are stakes races, with Santa Anita generously providing five, while Tampa Bay Downs, yielded three—and even Turfway Park gave up a stakes race that just happen to feature an honest-to-gosh 20/1 longshot for me to tout.

You can always check my math with a quick review of the full race-cards for all three tracks at our best horseracing wagering sites.

Good luck!

Saturday’s Picks for Santa Anita Park

We start on the dirt track with race three—the California Cup Derby, a $200,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles stakes rase for California-bred or -sired three-year-old’s. My money’s on the 5/2 second-favored Finneus, ridden by John R. Velazquez.

This colt finished in the money six of his seven career starts, winning two—including the Golden State Juvenile Stakes (Black Type) at Del Mar in November. Last year he also finished second in both the Best Pal Stakes (Grade II) and the Del Mar Futurity (Grade I). In this six-horse field, he’s the obvious star.

Walther Solis trains Finneus for owners Naseer Mohammed Fasihuddin, Terry C. Lovingier, and Amanda Navarro.

We’re switching to the turf for race six, the Unusual Heat Turf Classic Stakes—a $200,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles run for California-bred or -sired four-year-old’s and upward. I’m calling this race for one of the third-favored (the morning line has two at 7/2) Camino Del Paraiso, with Ricardo Gonzalez in the irons.

While this nine-year-old gelding is the most senior of a nine-horse field, he proven in the past twelve months that he’s still got the chops, finishing in the money three of his four 2021 starts, winning two–the Rolling Green Stakes (Black Type) in September and the Joseph T. Grace Stakes (Black Type) in early November. Later that same month, he finished second in the Berkeley Handicap (Grade III).

O.J. Jauregui trains Camino Del Paraiso (his top-earning horse) for Paradise Road Ranch, LLC.

We’re still on the turf for race eight, the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint Stakes—a $150,000, 6-1/2 furlong run for California-bred or -sired fillies and mares four years old and upward.

While I’m impressed with Leggs Galore, the second-favored entry in this race, I can’t deny that the 5/2 morning-line favorite is the right bet: Warren’s Showtime, with top jockey Juan J. Hernandez aboard.

This five-year-old mare has earned her status, finishing in the money for all nine of her 2021 starts, winning two of them—the Wilshire Stakes (Grade III) in June and the California Distaff Handicap (Black Type) in October. All nine of those races were stakes runs, four of them graded.

For the record, Warren’s Showtime moneyed 22 of her 24 career starts, winning eight.

Craig Anthony Lewis trains Warren’s Showtime for owners Benjamin C. Warren and Sally Warren.

Back on the dirt track for race nine, we’ve got the Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint Stakes, a $150,000 purse, six-furlong run for California-bred or -sired four-year-old’s and upward.

I agree with the morning line on this race, and I’m buying a win ticket on the 9/5 favorite, Brickyard Ride, piloted by Juan J. Hernandez.

This five-year-old finished in the money 11 of his 18 career starts, winning eight, including the Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint Stakes (Black Type) last January, the San Carlos Stakes (Grade II) last March, and the Thor’s Echo Stakes (Black Type) last June.

Craig Anthony Lewis trains Brickyard Ride for owner-breeder Alfred Pais.

We’re on the turf again for race ten, the Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks, a $200,000 purse, one-mile run for California-bred or -sired three-year-old fillies.

I’m calling this one for the 5/2 favorite, Professors’ Pride, with top jockey Umberto Rispoli in the irons.

This filly won both of her career starts—her initial maiden attempt at Del Mar in November and the Soviet Problem Stakes (Black Type) at Los Alamitos in December. She’s the best this 12-horse field has to offer.

Longtime horseracing veteran Eddie Truman trains Professor’s Pride for Academic Farms.

My Saturday Picks for Tampa Bay Downs

Let’s start on the dirt track with race five—the Pasco Stakes, a $125,000 purse, seven-furlong run for three-year-old’s. I’m betting my two dollars on the 2/1 morning-line favorite, Cattin, with veteran jockey Samy Camacho aboard.

This colt finished in the money three of his four career starts, winning two, including his initial maiden run as well as the Inaugural Stakes (Black Type) in December here at Tampa Bay Downs. He also finished third out of ten in the FTBOA Florida Sire In Reality Stakes (Black Type) at Gulfstream Park in September. He’ll do.

Ralph E. Nicks trains Cattin for owners Corinne Heiligbrodt, L. William Heiligbrodt, and Spendthrift Farm LLC.

Race six is the Gasparilla Stakes, a $125,000 purse, seven-furlong run on the dirt track for three-year-old fillies. I’m betting on the second-favored (at 5/2) Strategic Bird, ridden by Antonio A. Gallardo.

This filly won both of her career starts, including her initial maiden run and the Sandpiper Stakes (Black Type) in December. Those victories give her a slight statistical edge over the formidable morning-line favorite, Outfoxed.

Hall of Famer Mark E. Casse trains Strategic Bird for owner Gary Barber. Casse had Gallardo saddle Strategic Bird for the Sandpiper Stakes victory.

Race nine is the Wayward Lass Stakes, a $50,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles race on the dirt track for fillies and mares four years old and upward. I’m buying a win ticket on the 12/1 underdog Special Princess, piloted by Chantal Sutherland.

This four-year-old filly was a long time getting to the fair, but she’s made up for that in the past twelve months, winning the Gasparilla Stakes (Black Type) last January, then finishing fourth (of seven) in the Suncoast Stakes (Listed) in February, and another fourth (of eleven) in the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes (Black Type) in March.

For the record, Special Princess moneyed four of her nine career starts, winning two.

Christopher Duncan trains Special Princess for owner-breeder J D Farms.

Saturday Picks for Turfway Park

Let’s start on the all-weather track with race two, a one-mile claiming race for four-year-olds that have never won two races. My bet is on the 8/1 sleeper, The Blue Dragon, piloted by Ferrin Peterson.

This five-year-old gelding has the best stats in this ten-horse field, with four money finishes in six career starts, one of those a win.

Sarah Hamilton trains The Blue Dragon for owners Timber Town Stable, William S. Sparks, and Robert S. Evans.

You may also want to consider placing a value show bet on the 15/1 Alpha Dog, with veteran jockey John McKee aboard. This Eric R. Reed-trained five-year-old gelding moneyed five of his nine career starts, winning one.

Race six is the Likely Exchange Stakes, a $100,000 purse, one mile run on the all-weather track for fillies and mares four years old and upward. I like the 20/1 longshot, Bumble of Love, ridden by John McKee.

This five-year-old mare actually has the best statistical record in this ten-horse field: Eight money finishes in 13 career starts, five of those wins, including the Peony Stakes (Black Type) at Indiana Grand Race Course last August. She also finished third (of eight) in the Cardinal Stakes (Black Type) in October.

In comparison, the 3/1 favorite—New Roo—finished in the money ten of her 16 career starts, winning four, none of which was a stakes-level race.

Brian Michael trains Bumble of Love for owner Andrew C. Ritter.

Race seven is a one-mile allowance run on the all-weather track for four-year-old’s and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on one of the second-favored entries (there are two in this race at 4/1): Can’t Hide From Me, with E. T. Baird in the irons.

This six-year-old gelding finished in the money 18 of his 27 career starts, winning nine. Versus this otherwise unimpressive 14-horse field, he’ll do.

Larry Rivelli trains Can’t Hide From Me for owners Down The Stretch Racing Stables, Inc. (Larry Rivelli), Homer Schafer, and Robert Sulzberger Jr. Incidentally, 2021 was Baird’s winningest year in his 35+ years as a professional jockey.

J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

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