07/08/2014 10:47AM

Bernier's Los Alamitos pick four plays


Sunday, July 13

Race 6 – Md 30k, 6 furlongs

The final late pick four of the Los Alamitos Thoroughbred meeting opens with fillies and mares that have never won a race, and you could go any number of ways in this spot. Two that are likely to take a fair amount of money include the Ron Ellis first-time starter Covey and the Patricia Harrington trainee Swiss Intrigue. The major knock against Covey is the fact Ellis has poor stats when it comes to first-time starters (4 for 71 over the past five years), but the apparent lack of overall talent in the field makes this filly a must use. Swiss Intrigue registered the highest last-out Beyer Speed Figure in the field (37), but that was a race that doesn’t necessarily strike fear in one’s heart. She likely will need to take a step forward if she’s to find herself in the winner’s circle. The entire field is usable, but another to highlight is Princesskatiebella. Princesskatiebella has the luxury of dropping in class for this race, and the addition of blinkers should help her return to some of the races she’s run in the past.

Race 7 – Md Sp Wt 42k, 5 1/2 furlongs

The second leg of the late pick four will be contested by 2-year-old fillies, and Bob Baffert’s entrant, So You Say, likely will be the favorite once the field heads into the gate. Her debut effort at Santa Anita last month was less than stellar, but she still comes into this race owning the highest last-out Beyer. She likely will need to improve if she’s going to win, however, as a few other first-time starters appear well meant. Sharla Rae has been working nicely at Santa Anita for the past month or so, and Doug O’Neill does nice work with 2-year-old first-time starters in dirt sprints. Top riding apprentice Drayden Van Dyke has the mount on Sharla Rae for her first try. Don’t Blame Me is an intriguing entry for trainer Kristin Mulhall. Exiting an eye-catching gate drill July 7 at Santa Anita (four furlongs in 46.60), this filly is by the exciting young stallion Blame out of a Foresty mare who was a stakes-winning sprinter herself. If the workout last week is any indication, she should be sharp out of the gate.

Race 8 – The Cinderella, 6 furlongs

The final stakes race of the Los Alamitos meet is the Cinderella, which is a six-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies, and it very well could be a one-horse race. Heart of Paradise was as impressive as a horse possibly can be when she won at first asking going five furlongs last month at Santa Anita, and there’s no reason to think Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer doesn’t have her ready to roll here. It’s also worth noting that Mike Smith comes in to ride this daughter of More Than Ready for her second career start. Other interesting alternatives include La Grange (ran nicely in her debut effort at Arlington Park going 4 1/2 furlongs and earning a 75 Beyer for that effort) and Shh She’s Ours (displayed wicked gate speed in debut and could be the main danger to Heart of Paradise throughout the early running).

Race 9 – Md 20k, 5 1/2 furlongs

We’ll wrap up the inaugural Los Alamitos Thoroughbred meeting with a group of $20,000 maiden claimers, and four horses are likely to take much of the focus from a wagering standpoint. Surfing Angel is a first-time starter for trainer Bruce Headley, and Headley has scored in situations very similar to this one at nice odds in the past. Takeit Tothe Limit will add blinkers for the third start of his career, and backers must hope that this helps sharpen him up a bit. Taking money in each of his first two career starts, Takeit Tothe Limit faded badly at both six and seven furlongs at Santa Anita. The turn back from seven to six should be beneficial for him, and he figures to be an important figure here from the sound of the bell. Astutely got acquainted with the Los Alamitos surface on Independence Day last week, finishing a decent fifth in his first start off a lengthy layoff. He got involved in a bit of a duel during the early stages of the running, and it’s safe to assume he needed that race for some fitness. He should be much tighter this time around. Weekendwithbernie is a first-time starter for trainer Mike Puype, and although the Puype barn is struggling a bit at this Los Alamitos meeting, we know he’s a sharp trainer and more than capable of having a horse ready to fire at first asking.