Santa Anita Park Picks – Thursday, December 31, 2020

| December 30, 2020 12:27 pm PDT

Santa Anita rings out 2020 with a nine-race schedule that includes the ungraded Blue Norther Stakes, a race named for one of the top three fillies of the 1964 racing season (the other two were Tosmah and Miss Cavandish). Willie Shoemaker rode Blue Norther to victory for all five of her 1964 starts.

Read on for my Santa Anita Park picks and betting tips for Thursday, December 31, 2020.

Picks for Santa Anita Park Race 1

This is an allowance race for California-bred or -sired fillies and mares three years old and upward running a distance of six furlongs on turf for a purse of $63,000.

I’m backing the second-favored (7/2) entry in this race — Sofi’s Gold, with Umberto Rispoli in the irons. This three-year-old filly had two money finishes in her five career starts, winning one.

There’s a 6/1 sleeper you should take a look at — Habobanero, with Jessica Pyfer aboard. This three-year-old filly moneyed nine of her 18 career starts, winning three. For her part, Pyfer brings not only a seven-pound apprentice allowance to the race, but during her tenure in the jockey world, she has racked up enviable wins/WPS statistics.

And at 20/1, Envy, ridden by Tyler Baze, is a good value show bet. This five-year-old mare finished in the money six of her 11 career starts.

  • Win: Sofi’s Gold 7/2
  • Sleeper: Habobanero 6/1
  • Show: Envy 20/1

Pick for Santa Anita Park Race 6

This is an allowance optional claiming race for three-year-olds and upward running a distance of 6-1/2 furlongs for a purse of $65,000.

I like the second-favored (5/2) entry in this race — Leading Score, ridden by Joel Rosario. This six-year-old moneyed seven of his nine career starts, winning three.

This puts him statistically ahead of the morning line favorite, Shashashakemeup, who ran (but failed to show) in three graded stakes races this year.

The longest odds in this six-horse race are 8/1, and I don’t see that entry doing much beyond following the other five across the finish line.

  •  Win: Leading Score 5/2

Picks for Santa Anita Park Race 7 — Blue Norther Stakes

This is the Blue Norther Stakes, a race for two-year-old fillies running a distance of one mile on turf for a purse of $75,000.

I’m backing one of the second-favored entries (there are two at 5/2) in this stakes race — Javanica, with Flavien Prat in the irons. This filly moneyed three of her four career starts, winning one.

Incidentally, the other 5/2 entry, Quattroelle, is being jockeyed by Tyler Baze, who won the 2016 Blue Norther Stakes aboard Miss Sugars, and the 2005 Blue Norther Stakes aboard Cee’s Irish.

Any of the three longshots in this eight-horse race would be a good value show-wager prospect, so let’s go with the longest entry (30/1) — Derby Quest, ridden by Geovanni Franco. This filly moneyed two of her four career starts, winning one.

  • Win: Javanica 5/2
  • Show: Derby Quest 30/1 

More Racing Predictions and Picks for Thursday

There are more moneymaking opportunities at the other two tracks I reviewed for Thursday:

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).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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