The glaring problem when looking at this lineup in my race preview was that all of the runners had serious flaws.
My task was then to try to find the fillies who were going off at decent prices that may either dramatically improve or run well enough to win a weak race.
On the inside, #2 Mango Tart had the best races of any in her past performance lines. Her main knocks were that she was stretching out a bit and had run just three times. Therefore, I couldn’t bet her at anything less than 2-to-1. At post time, the public made her the overwhelming 6-to-5 favorite, so I quickly eliminated her as a betting possibility.
Two fillies — #3 Warren’s Assassin and #5 Kvell — competed in the same race three times since September and they finished within a half-length of each other every time. These two experienced runners had a total of 17 starts between them, but the highest Beyer Speed Figure either of them ever earned was the 56 granted to Kvell on Dec. 2.
In the past, they hit the board several times, but with the median winning Beyer Speed Figure being 64 for this class, Kvell and Warren’s Assassin would need to improve by some four lengths to match the par.
Of course, it could be done, but it wouldn’t be easy.
A second-time starter, #6 Frannie was being hyped by the Daily Racing Form where the handicapper noted that she ran OK after a wide trip. I adjusted her Beyer Speed Figure from 50 to 60 after watching the replay, but I had no faith in this horse either because she had run just one time.
Breaking from the far outside, #7 Here Comes Bonnie showed good early speed in her last two races. In a race on Dec. 4, Here Comes Bonnie missed by just a nose, but earned an abysmal 44 Beyer. When she popped and stopped on Dec. 30, she got just an 11 from the Beyer crew.
Again, no faith.
Of course, one of these fillies had to win this race, but since anything could happen I saw no reason to take a low price. I reduced my bets and planned to watch the tote board.
I figured that Kvell could win if none of the inexperienced runners fired. And since Santa Anita has an early speed bias, maybe Here Come Bonnie might run the race of her life.
Finally, I bet $200 on Kvell at 4/1 and $100 on Here Comes Bonnie at 7/1. I collected $830 for a horse that I really didn’t know much about or like too much, which is the beauty of playing the board and shopping for value.
In the end, Victor Espinoza rode Here Comes Bonnie with confidence, as he surged the filly to the lead while going wide on the turn. She was clearly in front throughout the stretch and nobody threatened her the rest of the way. She earned a 64 Beyer.
To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.