Monday is enlivened by Graded stakes action at Santa Anita, where the feature is the Astra Stakes, in which heavy favorite and course-and-distance winner Neige Blanche bids to improve on her already excellent record at this level.
The only Graded stakes run in the US over the three-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend is the Astra Stakes at Santa Anita on Monday, and the low-key feel is emphasized by a short field and a very short-priced favorite.
It’s not hard to work out why Neige Blanche will go off at prohibitive odds, as the mare has been a model of consistency and solid form ever since she shipped from Europe in the summer of 2020. She was a Group 3 winner in her native France and has matched that level of achievement Stateside, winning the Grade 3 Santa Barbara over course and distance in May and the Grade 3 Red Carpet over a mile and three-eighths at Del Mar in November.
She was allowed an easy lead at Del Mar and made the most of it, coming out best by a nose in a five-horse blanket finish, and although the performance in itself wasn’t notably earth-shattering it is still far superior to anything achieved by today’s four rivals, and the runner-up Luck underlined its merit when winning the Grade 3 Robert J Frankel next time out. Neige Blanche has the necessary class, she has proven stamina, she is tactically versatile, she is the standout choice despite conceding 4lb all round.
The test is probably to find one for the exacta, and Reiwa is a strong candidate. She followed two allowance wins at Golden Gate Fields over a mile and a mile-sixteenth with a decent showing in a stakes at the same venue last time out, when she never threatened but kept on gamely for fourth, beaten four lengths. Stamina is an issue, but the likely slow pace here will help in that regard.
That also goes for Scherzo, who finished off her race strongly when winning an allowance over a mile at Golden Gate last time out. She is in the groove right now but has work to do with Reiwa, who beat her comfortably in both those aforementioned allowance wins at Golden Gate.
Fellow stakes debutante Disappearing Act stays at least ten furlongs, the distance of her maiden win here last March, and she followed that with another victory here in an allowance optional claimer over a mile-eighth, but she has been beaten on her last four starts and was particularly lacklustre last time out when eighth in an allowance optional claimer at Del Mar. Perhaps the return to Santa Anita may perk her up. Frose has missed the board in nine of her ten races, the only exception being her victory in a Del Mar maiden in August 2020.
|Horse||Jockey||Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports|
|Neige Blanche||Juan J. Hernandez||-250|
|Disappearing Act||Flavien Prat||+400|
Betting Prediction for Astra looks a straightforward assignment for class act Neige Blanche, but at those odds it makes more sense to aim at the exacta and the choice is REIWA to place.
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