2023 Santa Anita Oaks Odds, Field & Picks

The undercard of the G1 Santa Anita Derby meet on Saturday features some major players in their own right, notably the unbeaten filly Faiza, who is a strong fancy to extend her winning streak to five in the G2 2023 Santa Anita Oaks.

KENTUCKY OAKS ODDS

Three racetrack regulars – Masteroffoxhounds, Gold Phoenix and Dicey Mo Chara – take yet another swing at each other in the G2 Charles Whittingham, while the G3 Monrovia has drawn a close-knit field headed by barnmates Amy C and Leggs Galore, who between them have won ten races here

Santa Anita Oaks

G2, $400,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 3yo fillies, 5.24pm PT

There are 100 Road to the Kentucky Oaks points on offer to the winner of the Santa Anita Oaks, the highlight of the undercard on a stakes-heavy Saturday in the shadow of the San Gabriel mountains, but the race revolves around a horse who won’t be going anywhere near Churchill Downs on the first Friday in May.

That’s because she’s trained by Bob Baffert, whose horses – as everyone knows by now – are ineligible for the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, but Faiza (9-5) is nevertheless by some way the biggest fish in the small California distaff pond and is a hot favourite to stretch her unbeaten record to five.

Success in the mile-sixteenth G1 Starlet at Los Alamitos and the G3 Las Virgenes here over a mile preceded her most impressive performance to date, when she came home a dominant winner of the G3 Santa Ysabel over course and distance, stalking the pace before taking over and clearing away to beat the rallying And Tell Me Nolies (4-1) by two and a quarter lengths.

Today will be no cakewalk, as G1 Del Mar Debutante winner And Tell Me Nolies was having her first start for four months and will be sharper today, but she’ll need to be as Faiza is still firmly on the upgrade.

There are threats from those attempting to make the step up, especially Window Shopping (4-1), who won her maiden here over a mile by a jaw-dropping 16 and a half lengths. This is obviously a major class hike and she comes back off just three weeks’ rest, but she’s clearly going places and could be anything, possibly really something.

It’s impossible to quantify her barnmate Venganza (12-1), who had just one rival to beat in an off-the-turf six-furlong maiden here on debut, and did so gate-to-wire by four and a quarter lengths. It was a paid workout and she’s a guessing game right now.

Clearly Unhinged (4-1) also won her maiden here on debut, although not with the same panache – coast-to-coast by three and a quarter lengths – over six and a half furlongs. She’s bred to go longer and should have no issue stretching out, although her inexperience may tell against her.

Santa Anita maiden claimer winners Cliquish (20-1), who romped by nine lengths over six furlongs, and Gila (30-1), who led all the way over a mile to score by 12 and a half lengths, were impressive enough at that lowly level but could be out of their depth here.

This is a surface switch for Princess Bettina (5-1), who has been looking good on the lawn and went gate-to-wire to win a stakes here over a mile by four and a quarter lengths. If she can translate that form back to dirt she’d certainly be in the mix, but her previous main-track experience was comparatively unimpressive and it may not be the way to go.

2023 Santa Anita Oaks Odds & Betting Pick

This can safely be left to the unbeaten FAIZA, who produced a career-best over course and distance on her most recent start and can stretch her streak to five.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
VenganzaMike E. Smith+1200
GilaArmando Aguilar+3000
Clearly UnhingedJuan J. Hernandez+400
CliquishUmberto Rispoli+2000
FaizaFlavien Prat+180
Window ShoppingHector Isaac Berrios+400
Princess BettinaLanfranco Dettori+500
And Tell Me NoliesRamon A. Vazquez+400
Don’t Get PickledGeovanni Franco+3000

Whittingham Stakes

G2, $200,000, 1m 2f turf, 4yo+, 2.00pm PT

Round up the usual suspects and bring them out for the Charles Whittingham, in which three old rivals in varying degrees of form lock horns again, an intriguing dash of deja vu that gives bettors plenty to think about.

Where to start? How about this race 12 months ago, when Masteroffoxhounds (5-2) chased the pace all the way around the track but could never deliver a challenge, eventually playing second fiddle to the tune of a length and a quarter, with Gold Phoenix (2-1) basically racing in third throughout and finishing a half-length back in the ‘show’ spot, and Dicey Mo Chara (5-1) never a factor in fifth, two and three-quarter lengths further away.

The problem with Masteroffoxhounds is his win record, a lame four-for-23 with only one victory in his last 14 starts, which came in the G2 John Henry Turf Championship over course and distance when beating – guess who? – Dicey Mo Chara and Gold Phoenix by a neck and a head.

He has shown his talent for missing out twice already this year, firstly when beaten a neck in the G3 San Marcos over course and distance, with the rallying Opry (4-1)a half-length away third and Dicey Mo Chara sixth, again showing very little.

Then Masteroffoxhounds cut back for the G1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile here and got left behind in the stretch, dropping away to be sixth behind his hard-charging barnmate Gold Phoenix, beaten four and a quarter lengths. Today’s extra yardage is a big positive but when does he win?

That Kilroe victory was a career-best for Gold Phoenix and that may be a crucial factor, and he has no issues with stepping back up in distance after his G2 Del Mar Handicap win over a mile and three-eighths, with – guess who? – Dicey Mo Chara and Masteroffoxhounds third and fifth.

Dicey Mo Chara is not often in the right mood – four-for-18 lifetime – but when he is he’s pretty effective, as he showed when taking the G2 San Gabriel here over a mile-eighth in December, with Masteroffoxhounds third, beaten a length and a half.

Opry was making his first start at stakes level for more than four years in the San Marcos, and although it’s a bit late to be learning new tricks at his age, he has to be on the short-list.

The remaining three runners have plenty to find on the book. Midnight Jostar (4-1) – barnmate of Masteroffoxhounds and Gold Phoenix – was a rallying winner of an allowance over course and distance last time; Offlee Naughty (12-1) won a similar race on the synthetic at Turfway Park; Oncoming (20-1)is two-for-18 and makes his stakes debut today.

Charles Whittingham Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

Last-time-out G1 winner GOLD PHOENIX is a much more reliable type than his two old rivals, and he can build on that career-best now back up in distance.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
OpryLanfranco Dettori+400
Dicey Mo Chara (GB)Juan J. Hernandez+500
Midnight JostarKent J. Desormeaux+400
Offlee NaughtyJohn R. Velazquez+1200
OncomingHector Isaac Berrios+2000
MasteroffoxhoundsUmberto Rispoli+250
Gold Phoenix (IRE)Kazushi Kimura+200

Monrovia Stakes

G3, $200,000, 6 1/2f turf, 4yo+ females, 4.53pm PT

There’s a heady blend of upgrading distaffers and those hunting for class relief in the Monrovia, a typical big-field mid-range sprint that tends to be won by the best horse on the day rather than the best horse.

Phil D’Amato has a firm grip on the top of the betting market, with Amy C (7-2) bidding for a third straight win over course and distance after making her Graded-stakes breakthrough in the G3 Las Cienegas in early January, having a length and a half to spare over the one-paced Freedom Flyer (6-1) in third.

She reserves her best for this track and the three-month layoff shouldn’t be an issue. Freedom Flyer franked the form next time when coming out on top in a frantic finish to a stakes over course and distance, outdoing the remarkably consistent Big Summer (5-1) – never off the board in 12 starts – by a neck, with Stella Noir (15-1) dropping away tamely to finish last of the six.

D’Amato second-string Leggs Galore (4-1) has been off for nearly six months, since being caught close home in a stakes over course and distance when well clear of the third. She’s seven-for-ten here and only out of the first two once, so can be relied upon to run her race despite the potential for ring-rustiness. Her barnmate Elm Drive (15-1) lost her form in the second half of 2022 and is hard to like here.

Another long-term absentee is Canoodling (5-1), last seen at the end of May when – after winning two G3s here over a mile – she found the extra furlong of the G1 Gamely too far, fading into fourth. The return to sprinting after such a long spell on the sidelines might mean things happen a little quickly for her.

Kirstenbosch (15-1) is likewise coming down the ladder from the top level, with third place in the G1 La Brea and fifth in the G1 Beholder Mile – with Awake At Midnyte (15-1) one length and one place behind – sandwiching her stakes breakthrough in the G3 La Canada here over a mile-sixteenth, when she needed all that distance to get home by a nose. It’s doubtful whether cutting back to sprints will see her at her best.

Going the other way is stakes debutante Tom’s Beauty (12-1), bidding for a three-timer here after allowance wins over six furlongs and then six and a half, with neither gained in a style that suggests she’s ready for a leap in grade.

Monrovia Stakes Odds & Betting Tip

This is wide open, but the progressive AMY C has shown improved form over this course and distance and is the choice to stretch her winning streak to three

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Elm DriveRamon A. Vazquez+1500
Awake At MidnyteMario Gutierrez+1500
CanoodlingJuan J. Hernandez+500
Tom’s BeautyHector Isaac Berrios+1200
Stella NoirKent J. Desormeaux+1500
KirstenboschKazushi Kimura+1500
One Silk StockingJohn R. Velazquez+1000
Amy C (GB)Umberto Rispoli+350
Big SummerJoe Bravo+500
Leggs GaloreRicardo Gonzalez+400
Freedom FlyerLanfranco Dettori+600

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