04/16/2013 3:00PM

Santa Anita: Pick-six key may depend on Lilbourne Eliza's start


ARCADIA, Calif. – The pick six would be less difficult Thursday at Santa Anita if the best race included at least one front-runner.

Unfortunately, pick-six bettors taking aim at the $85,262 carryover will look at race 6, an entry-level turf allowance for 3-year-old fillies, and ask the same question posed early this week to trainer Jim Cassidy – who makes the lead?

Cassidy trains import Lilbourne Eliza, whose up-front style in England might give her an edge over closers Pussycat Lips and Macha. The trouble is that European imports, such as Lilbourne Eliza, often are slow leaving the gate. So who sets the pace?

“If she breaks, she will be,” Cassidy said.

It is a big “if.” Cassidy acknowledges that Lilbourne Eliza might need a start, and he has been reluctant to over-school the filly at the gate for fear she will become too speedy.

“That’s the whole thing, you can’t do too much, otherwise they want to go,” he said.

Lilbourne Eliza was purchased last fall in England at the same Tattersalls auction that already produced one recent U.S. debut winner for Cassidy and owner Deron Pearson. The filly Disko Dasko won March 15 and was not a surprise. Lilbourne Eliza would be.

“She is still a little green,” Cassidy said. “I think she has talent. I don’t know if we’ll see it this week.”

Lilbourne Eliza won 1 of 4 races in England last fall and could post a lone-speed upset if she breaks running under jockey David Flores. But if she breaks slowly, the one-mile turf race would unfold at a crawl.

Slow-pace turf races often are filled with trouble. But if the best closer wins, the main candidates are Pussycat Lips and Macha.

Pussycat Lips is trained by John Sadler, whose stable returned to form after a 1-for-54 midseason drought. Since March 30, Sadler has won with 11 of 37 starters, including six of seven favorites. Just in time for Thursday. Sadler has three potential favorites in the pick six – maiden-claimer Just Because, race 5; Pussycat Lips; and Cuvee Exchange, race 8.

The murky pace scenario of the turf allowance is one of several traps pick-six bettors must somehow steer around. Below is a look at the remaining five legs, all challenging.

Race 3 is a maiden-claiming sprint in which Patriotic Lion is the fastest entrant and likely favorite. The knock is he has lost all 20 starts. Thursday is start No. 21. Main rivals are comebacker Knucklebuster and Dashing Ash.

Race 4 is a maiden special weight turf sprint, and lightly raced Uno Dos Adios looks obvious. He was gelded before his comeback and finished third by a head. If he wins as chalk, Uno Dos Adios would be the meet’s first winning favorite in a turf sprint for maiden colts and geldings. There have been 12 races. Other contenders include route-to-sprint Cacau and In a Wine Tizzy, first-time gelding Misdeed, and first-time starter Spectrus.

Race 5, a $20,000 maiden claimer that is a split of the third, includes the most probable winner on the card. Sadler-trained Just Because finished second last time behind repeat winner World Renowned, while more than five clear of third.

Race 7 is a thorny $25,000 claiming sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

Sacred Delight, Jesse’s Giacomo, Wellington Beauty, and comebacker Snackable are among the principals.

Race 8 is a maiden-40 starter allowance at a mile on turf for fillies and mares. Sadler-trained Cuvee Exchange squandered a perfect trip last time, yet her third-place finish still makes her the logical choice over Light of Life and Callous Effect.