2022 Joe Hernandez Stakes Odds & More Graded Races from SA

This Saturday the 2022 Joe Hernandez Stakes (G2T) will be taking place at Santa Anita eleven contenders will clash in the unique 6 ½ furlong downhill turf track

Joe Hernandez Stakes

Grade 2 – Purse $250,000 – 6 ½ furlongs – Downhill Turf – 3-Year-Olds and Up.

Although the race is open to three-year-olds and upwards, it is worth noting that seven of the last ten winners have been five-year-olds, a very interesting stat worth checking with four of this year’s field matching that. So let’s look at who is likely to be vying for the winner’s circle.

Whatmakessammyrun is likely to be the morning line favorite here and was a winner over this course and distance when winning the G2 Eddie D Stakes back in October. He stalked the pace from the seven gate and pitched inside and took over in the stretch and held well from another of today’s foes in Lane Way and Gregorian Chant who finished in the show spot.

Lane Way clearly likes this unique track and took a class drop last time to win an $80k OC after his second in the Eddie D. He has the same gate draw today and could well turn around the form with the chalk. He has not been out of the first two in five runs and looks value at around 6/1.

One of the stories of the meet is the appearance of leading European rider Frankie Dettori and who takes the ride on the classy Hit The Road who has some very strong Beyer speed figures and he takes a class drop today. The cutback in distance could be positive, but he is dealing with a totally different track and will surely be one of those closing late to the wire.

Irideo and Kiss Today Goodbye look to be out of their depth, but an interesting longshot who could grab a slice underneath is Front Run The Fed, who has some top-class form, and was last seen when a big odds longshot in The Breeders Cup. He has a good draw in gate seven and his closing style could give him an opportunity to get involved late on.

So many in with a chance, and another that most definitely has the class for this is Smooth Like Strait. The Michael McCarthy barn inmate has shown plenty of speed over a mile in much tougher races than this, and although not taking advantage of a class drop last time, was bumped early and could not get his customary position on the speed. He has a great draw in gate 10 and will likely attempt to go gate-to-wire here.

2022 Joe Hernandez Stakes Odds & Betting Picks

Lane WayMike E. Smith+600
Irideo (ARG)Ramon A. Vazquez+1500
Super Ocho (CHI)Juan D. Lopez+600
Gregorian Chant (GB)Flavien Prat+500
WhatmakessammyrunJoe Bravo+350
Air Force RedJuan J. Hernandez+600
Front Run the FedUmberto Rispoli+1200
Hit the RoadLanfranco Dettori+600
Kiss Today GoodbyeKyle Frey+2000
Smooth Like StraitJohn R. Velazquez+400
SigilosoHector Isaac Berrios+1200

Such a tough race to call with plenty in with chances, and for exotics players, then Front Run Fred could have this set up for a big run. Don’t expect to see him early, but he has a good gate draw, can track the speed mid-pack, and close late to hit the board.

The main selection has to be SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT who has plenty in his favor. A great gate draw, with lots of early speed, and plenty of good form against classier rivals. His Beyer speed figures are solid and he is the only one in the field to have produced a 100+ Beyer number.

Hit The Road is another with a touch of class, and he could well hit the board under Dettori.

Robert J Frankel Stakes

Grade 3 – Purse $100,000 – 1 1/8 miles – Turf – 3-Year-Olds and Up – Fillies & Mares

Saturday sees the legendary American trainer Bobbie Frankel honored once more with the 12th running of the Robert J Frankel Stakes. The race took that name in 2011 but has been run in different formats since 1968, so has a very long history.

Trainer Carla Gaines won back-to-back runnings of the race in 2014 and 2015, and is back this year with another runner in the form of the 4-year-old filly Closing Remarks.

Queen Goddess is the early morning line chalk here and she has been in solid form at this level over further on her last two starts. The cutback in distance is not a deal breaker, although she might not be able to get on the speed from her wide gate and that does compromise her chance here. 5/2 looks skinny, although she has a great chance of hitting the board.

We mentioned trainer Carla Gaines, and her Closing Remarks is another who has been putting up some solid performances and her top Beyer of 91 puts her right in the mix. Last time she was a length and three-quarters behind Queen Goddess and had a poor run in the race, so it would not be a surprise if she could turn that form around.

England’s Rose has struggled to win in graded stakes company and her last win came in a minor stakes race back in October 2021. She has since performed well without winning, but gets some nice class relief today and is one that has to be on anybody’s radar. She holds a couple of verdicts over Avenue De France and should have nothing to fear from that rival.

Warrens Candy Girl has already been well beaten by a couple of these and along with fellow longshot New Heat, they both look out of their depth in this.

If we are looking for a long shot that may well cause an upset, and could be good to include in exotics, then Island of Love could be the one. She was outclassed two back in the Del Mar Oaks, but put up a solid closing effort in a stakes race last time. She stretches back out to a mile and an eighth, and hit the board in her two previous runs in graded stakes company. She looks sure to be closing late and could cause a shock here.

Others with a chance to hit the board include Burgoo Alley and Bipartisanship, with the latter taking a steep class drop here.

Robert J Frankel Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

Warrens Candy GirlUmberto Rispoli+1500
Bipartisanship (GB)Juan J. Hernandez+600
Burgoo Alley (IRE)Flavien Prat+600
New HeatGeovanni Franco+2000
England’s RoseVictor Espinoza+350
ScarabeaKazushi Kimura+2000
Closing RemarksJoe Bravo+800
Island of Love (IRE)Ramon A. Vazquez+2000
Avenue de France (FR)Lanfranco Dettori+600
Queen GoddessJohn R. Velazquez+250
Quattroelle (IRE)Hector Isaac Berrios+600

England’s Rose has been running consistently well against tougher, and with some significant class relief, she looks sure to run her race and can hit the board.

Queen Goddess has the form to win this, but her post position will make it tough and she is overlooked with the main selection being the longshot ISLAND OF LOVE. Her Beyers say she should not be good enough, but her closing style could be a potent weapon in this, if she can get a mid-pack stalking position.

Closing Remarks will give all of these, plenty to think about, and could grab a slice underneath.

Las Flores Stakes

Grade 3 – Purse $100,000 – 6 furlongs – Dirt – 3-Year-Olds and Up – Fillies & Mares

This sprint for the fillies and mares was first run in 1951 when having the status of a handicap. Trainer John Sadler has won this race a couple of times in the last decade and he is represented in this renewal by the four-year-old Violent Runner.

In its long history, The Las Flores has been run mainly at Hollywood Park, but when that closed in 2013, the race moved to Santa Anita, from where it has been run since.

We have 8 runners due to go to post for this year’s renewal, so let’s take a look at the field and see who might be the major players this year.

The early morning line chalk is likely to be the Peter Miller barn inmate Samurai Charm who has won her last two but takes a step up the class ladder today. Both of those wins have produced 90+ Beyer speed figures and they put her well clear of her rivals on ratings. However, she has tried this level before without success and that’s a negative.

Looking at the more lightly raced runners and John Sadler’s Violent Runner is four from five with the only defeat coming on debut, so that run can be forgiven. Beat another of today’s rivals Lady T by just a nose last time and battled gamely for the win. Lady T has solid claims on form, but six seconds from ten runs could well point to a quirk in this one’s nature, and Violent Runner is taken to come out on top again.

The inside post-runner Classical Romance has taken a step forward on her last two starts, but a top 73 Beyer leaves a lot to find and she is readily discounted here against proven foes.

Another lightly raced type that looks interesting is Manorelli, who broke the maiden tag four back and has since run three solid races against winners. She produced her best Beyer number last time over 5 furlongs, and stretching back out in distance should hold no fears for this daughter of Outwork.

Lexington Humor looks outclassed here, but two others to mention are Doris Mae who is two from three, broke her maiden two back, and followed up the first time against winners. The other of interest is Anacapa who is improving gradually and could enjoy the cutback in distance today.

Las Flores Stakes Odds & Betting Predictions

Classical RomanceRyan Curatolo+2000
Samurai CharmFlavien Prat+250
Lexington HumorKyle Frey+1200
ManorelliEdwin A. Maldonado+800
AnacapaJoe Bravo+400
Violent RunnerEmily A. Ellingwood+400
Lady TVictor Espinoza+350
Doris MaeJuan J. Hernandez+500

Another tight graded stakes and difficult to pick a winner, but the selection has to be ANACAPA who has done nothing but improve since breaking the maiden tag, and although stepping up the class ladder, this is not the deepest graded stakes race.

Violent Runner who is on a five-timer is sure to prove a tough rival and can hit the board, while at bigger prices, Manorelli looks one for exotics players having put in a bullet 35-second workout just 5 days ago.

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