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Flightline Tops Santa Anita Opening

Six Graded Races on the Card

Opening Day at Santa Anita is a great time to fill the pockets on Boxing Day as future stars are out in force.

There are a host of top-level races on the betting online card, including the Malibu Stakes where Flightline and Dr. Schivel square off in a potential match race.

Flightline Tops Santa Anita Opening
Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Also featured on the card are the La Brea Stakes, American Oaks, San Antonio, Mathis Brothers Mile and the San Gabriel Stakes.

Flightline Could Be Special

We couldn’t be more excited to see Flightline in action in the Malibu Stakes on Saturday.

The impressive 3-year-old colt is unbeaten after two starts and he cleared out his rivals on both occasions.

The John Sadler-trained son of Tapit won on debut at Santa Anita by 13¼ lengths behind repeating the dose at Del Mar by 12¾ lengths.

He has been superb against easier opposition, but beating Dr. Schivel won’t be easy. It will be a good test to see how good he is, but the early signs are there.

“He’s trained up to the race super,” Sadler told BloodHorse. “We’ve had our eye on the Malibu for a couple of months. It’s the right conditions —3-year-olds, a grade 1 at seven-eighths — which we think is going to be a good distance for him. It will be his first time against better horses, but we’re excited about the challenge.”

Dr. Schivel has the form on the board after finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He is a two-time Grade I winner, so he’s the best horse in the field. However, trainer Mark Glatt has praised Flightline.

“Flightline has been something unreal so far—never seen anything like it,” Branch said. “But if we take him on and beat him, that would make quite a story. I have the utmost respect for all of the horses stepping up for this race.”

We think it’s the easiest quinella of the card. It won’t make you rich, but the sportsbook should offer decent odds for the Flightline/Dr. Schivel quinella.

If we had to pick one, we would take Flightline at short odds to edge out the proven thoroughbred.

Pick: Flightline/Dr. Schivel quinella

Baffert Holds Key in La Brea

The Grade I La Brea Stakes features a quality field, including Livingmybestlife. However, Bob Baffert holds the key with his duo.

He lines up Kalypso and Private Mission, with the latter coming off a rough effort in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff behind Marche Lorraine.

The 3-year-old filly set ridiculous fractions and was never going to have a chance in the straight. Her form prior included wins in the Zenyatta Stakes and Torrey Pines, so she has class on her side.

Stablemate Kalypso is also coming off a poor effort in the Eight Belles, but her form prior was good enough. She won two races at Santa Anita, so having winning experience on the track is ideal.

We give the edge to Private Mission, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Kalypso ran well at longer odds.

Horse racing betting odds should have Private Mission fancied to score, but she could be battling for favoritism with Livingmybestlife, who owns an impressive record.

Pick: Private Mission +137

Go Global in American Oaks

A lovely field has emerged for the $300,000 American Oaks, including Going Global for Phil D’Amato.

The 3-year-old filly by Mehmas has been defeated once in her seven-start career. She won three stakes races before finishing second behind Madone in the San Clemente Stakes but she rebounded in fine style.

She won the Del Mar Oaks when beating race rivals Closing Remarks and Fluffy Socks. That form is excellent for the American Oaks and bettors shouldn’t leave her out of calculations.

Fluffy Socks has since won the Sands Point at Belmont, so the form checks out and the quality fillie could be fighting out the finish at Santa Anita.

Pick: Going Global +162

Wheels Down for Hot Rod Charlie

Another stunning field lines up in the Grade II San Antonio, which is headed by Hot Rod Charlie.

The son of Oxbow finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic behind Knicks Go, which is an outstanding form guide for the San Antonio.

He has been around the mark all year, including a third placing in the Kentucky Derby, a second placing in the Belmont Stakes, and a win in the Pennsylvania Derby.

The Doug O’Neill-trained colt has his eyes set on the Dubai World Cup in 2021, so winning this race is well within his sights.

His biggest danger is Stilleto Boy, who finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but our money is on Hot Rod Charlie and he’s one of the better horse racing bets.

Pick: Hot Rod Charlie

Astronaut to Blast Off

An even betting field lines up in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes, including Bob and Jackie and Astronaut.

We’re picking Astronaut to get back to his best form after being held in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Hollywood Turf Cup.

The son of Quality Road wasn’t facing easy opposition behind the likes of Yibir and Say the Word, so he should enjoy being back at this level.

He took flight when winning the Del Mar Handicap in August, which is an excellent form guide. The win came over Master Piece and Acclimate, so the form checks out.

We’re confident in Astronaut’s chances to get back to his best form at Santa Anita.

Pick: Astronaut

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