$200k Santa Anita Oaks

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By Tom Quigley

$200,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita Park

Race 5 (Saturday, June 6, 2020: 5:30 p.m./ET; 2:30 p.m./PT)
One mile and a sixteenth on the main track (3-year-old fillies)

A total of seven stakes races (three of them graded) highlight an 11-race card at The Great Race Place this Saturday. The first of those three graded affairs goes as Race 5, the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) for three-year-old fillies. Let’s take a closer look at each runner:

#1 SWISS SKYDIVER is the class of the race and strictly the one to beat. The daughter of DAREDEVIL ships west for trainer Ken McPeek after a duo of victories in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park. She possesses tactical speed and can be on the lead but does need the front, so ‘Big Money’ rider Mike Smith has options.

#2 MERNEITH makes her first start against winners for trainer Bob Baffert. A well regarded filly sired by AMERICAN PHAROAH, this gal broke her maiden over a sloppy track at Oaklawn by 10 lengths last month while earning a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. On Saturday, she’ll be racing over a fast track while traveling two turns. The only time she raced a route of ground, she finished second at odds of 7/5.

#3 SPEECH finished second to seven-figure sale purchase GAMINE in her most recent afternoon appearance, an allowance race at Oaklawn Park on May 2. That day, she looked to have the aforementioned foe beat, but hung in the final stages and lost by a neck. Her two-back run over this track, a runner up finish behind the multiple Grade I placed DONNA VELOCE, was an admirable effort. Definite contender.

#4 SMILING SHIRLEE was supplemented into this race by her connections. California-bred wheels back in three weeks after a hard fought victory in the Evening Jewel Stakes sprinting. She has versatility and can route, as she won a two-turn, Cal-bred allowance race in March (against older). All that said, her speed figures indicate she needs to run a lot faster to be competitive against this group.

#5 REGAL BEAUTY is another who comes back to the races in relatively quick time after a gate-to-wire score against maidens on May 17. Second start off a three-month break for trainer Bob Baffert, she may be able to take a step forward and run an improved race with a race under her belt. Nonetheless, a career best effort is needed for her to have any chance at winning this race.

SELECTIONS

1. #1 SWISS SKYDIVER - Standout from class perspective.
2. #3 SPEECH - Consistent gal merits respect.
3. #2 MERNEITH - Baffert has always thought she was a good one.

LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY - #5 REGAL BEAUTY - The ‘other’ Baffert.

WAGERING STRATEGY
I’ll play a straight exacta using my top two choices.

BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget) $50 Exacta: #1 SWISS SKYDIVER over #3 SPEECH

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