12/27/2011 5:04PM

Santa Anita: Pick-six chase starts with $148,184 carryover


ARCADIA, Calif. – Pick-six pools are shrinking in Southern California, yet the trend will be unnoticed Thursday at Santa Anita.

A string of opening-day upsets generated a carryover of $148,184 into Thursday, when bettors are expected to wager more than $750,000 chasing the pick six on races 3-8.

Monday’s $277,394 pick-six pool was the lowest opening-day pool in four years and a decline of nearly 40 percent from opening day one year ago. The good news for bettors is the Thursday carryover will negate much of the 23.68 percent takeout. First post is 1 p.m.

Race 3 is the first leg of the pick six; bettors will prefer likely pacesetter Backwoods Belle over Silver Street in the six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old claiming fillies. Punch Drunk and Warren’s Mad Dawg are sensible alternatives.

Race 4 includes a potential single – speedball Beautiful Strike will start at low odds in the $30,000 maiden-claimer for 2-year-old fillies. Runner-up last out racing 6 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park, trainer Peter Miller shortens her to 5 1/2 and switches from Rafael Bejarano to Corey Nakatani.

“I just thought Corey would fit her better, and I like the cutback,” Miller said.

Beautiful Strike set fast fractions and finished more than six lengths clear of third last out against similar.

Miller is virtually automatic with favorites in maiden-claiming races at 5 1/2 furlongs – he has won with 7 of his last 10; the other three ran second. Beautiful Strike is the most probable winner on the card.

Bettors looking to knock off the chalk might consider Nifty Dream, who was given a passive ride in her ninth-place debut at Hollywood. She races Thursday over the Santa Anita track, where she has posted solid works. She switches jockeys to Joe Talamo.

Race 5 is a turf sprint for 3-year-old claimers, and diminutive Ribat is the right horse. Trained by Melody Conlon, he was claimed in September for $40,000, won a downhill starter allowance two back, and followed with a good runner-up finish last out in a one-mile stakes at Turf Paradise.

“I think a mile was a little bit of a stretch, and I know he likes loves the [downhill] course,” Conlon said. “He’s only about 15 hands, but he is real competitive.”

Conlon is quietly having a banner season, with nine wins and eight seconds from just 33 starters.

Daniel Vergara rides Ribat, who breaks from the outside post in a 10-horse field that includes contenders Palio Prince, Metropolitan Man, Mint Humor, Stone Hot, and Evening Island.

Race 6, at 1 1/16 miles for $8,000 claimers, might be the most difficult on the card. Main contenders include My Boy Luke, Way too Much, Sky’squickscore, Morganouska, and Coloursoftheglen.

Race 7 marks the turf debut for Memphis, a 1-for-3 gelding making his first start in four months in an entry-level allowance for statebreds.

“I have a lot confidence in the horse,” trainer Marty Jones said. “He seems like he’s training really well and needs to run. There are a couple races later this meet down the hill; we’re looking to see if he likes it.”

Memphis won his career debut in July, followed by successive third-place finishes in allowance races. David Flores rides the son of Roar. Jones also starts Don Perico.

“Their styles shouldn’t clash, Don Perico has a little more speed,” Jones said.

Jones expects the gelding to improve second start back from a layoff.

“I look forward to getting him back on turf; he might have been a little short” in his comeback, he said.

Husband’s Folly, 1 for 4, will rally from the back.

“Eventually, he’ll be best as a miler,” trainer Mike Puype said. “The biggest question is if this will be enough distance.”

Earnednevergiven and Sammartino drop from open company; both have a look.

Race 8 includes an obvious favorite in 2-year-old maiden-claiming filly Bella’s Fantasy. She ran second last out despite breaking slowly, getting blocked behind runners on the turn, and losing ground into the lane. She missed by a half-length.