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Rodeo Drive Stakes 2016: Sigi & Kari Go Toe to Toe On Their Picks & Plays

Rodeo Drive Stakes 2016: Sigi & Kari Go Toe to Toe On Their Picks & Plays by Kari Ward and Sigi Mendoza– After an absolutely wonderful weekend at Remington Park and the Oklahoma Derby. I’m now wrapping my head around the fact that we have the 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships right around the corner. The weekend of first-class racing takes place once again at sunny Santa Anita Racecourse in Arcadia, California Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5. You can’t go wrong with SoCal weather in November. So pack your bags folks and meet us there!

Rodeo Drive

A final prep for the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the Rodeo Drive has attracted a very competitive field of 14 (including Avenge pictured above), all vying for their chance at automatic entry, including entry fees paid into the World Championships race Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
Photo: Benoit

This weekend Santa Anita has six stakes races which includes five that are “Win and You’re In” enabling the winner of each designated race an all expenses paid berth into a Breeders’ Cup race. In the line-up we have the G1 Awesome Again Stakes, the G1 Chandelier Stakes, the G1 Frontrunner Stakes, the G1 Rodeo Drive Stakes and the G1 Zenyatta Stakes. If you have the chance to get to Santa Anita, get ready to have a smashing day of racing with a fantastic card lined up.

The 2016 Rodeo Drive Stakes is for fillies & mares 3 years old and up running 1 ¼ miles on the grass for a purse of $300.000. The race was inaugurated in 1977 and was known as the Yellow Ribbon Stakes. The Director of Oak Tree Racing at the time, Louis R. Rowan, named it after the old wartime song “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”. Last year the race was won by Photo Call for trainer Graham Motion with jockey Drayden Van Dyke up. She ended up running 5th in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Attracting a full field of 14, the 2016 Rodeo Drive is carded as the 8th race of the day out of 11 with a slotted time to start at 4:00 pm, PST.

My colleague Sigifredo Mendoza and I were both going to handicap this race, so we decided to take a crack at it together with our top picks. So here ya go, your turn first Sigi.

Sigi’s Top Picks:
In a wide open race, I’m giving the slight edge to Elektrum. By High Chaparral, this mare has the stamina to handle the distance, since she has a good record of one win and one second in two starts over the 1 ¼ mile. She finished strong last out in the John C. Mabee Stakes just losing by a ½ length. This time the mare. Elektrum is not a win machine, but she often finish in the board, very near the winner. In my opinion 1 ¼ mile is her favorite distance, so I expect a big effort here.

Sobradora Inc arrived to America as the Argentinian undefeated champion. She made her U.S debut in the Osunitas Stakes surprisingly with a weak support from the bettors, including myself, mainly because in theory 1 1/16 m were a bit short for her, but the filly shown a big heart and overcame a rough trip to win the race at big odds. In her next race, the John C. Mabee Stakes, failed as the favorite finishing fifth, 2 ¼ length back whilst she never was a real threat. Sobradora Inc since her debut in Argentina, recorded very slow workouts, a thing that wasn’t change in her first two outings in U.S, but after her flop, the trainer Simon Callaghan, changed the workout style, increasing the speed. Let’s see if this strategy workouts for this mare. Sobradora Inc indeed would like the stretch out to 1 ¼ mile.

I’m including a longshot, looking for some value. Decked Out has a strong late kick. Although she was wide the whole race, she almost beat Harmonize in the Del Mar Oaks –GI. If the pace turns fast, we will see her rolling late trying to pick up some pieces, and why not becoming in a huge upset.

Bettors should try to avoid win – place plays in this race. I recommend to play some exotics plays like exacta or trifecta, using my top picks. You also can add some horses underneath looking for value

Although this race ensure a spot in the BC Filly and mare Turf , the winner must improve a lot to be competitive in the BC Series, since this year the strong females are based in the east coast, this without take into account the Euro invaders. Surely the waters will get more deeper.

Kari’s Top Picks:
My top pick to win in this race is the Richard Mandella trained Avenge. I’ve been on this gal for quite a while and have been thrilled with her last two wins. Last out she won the John C. Mabee Stakes by a head over Finest City & Elektrum. It speaks volumes that this filly retains rider Flavian Prat who has been up for four out of her six wins. She is one who most likely will show early speed and I look for her to get a jump on the field and hopefully win.

I’d also add trainer H. Graham Motions gal Real Smart to my ticket. She has a win over the Del Mar Turf in July beating Photo Call (who won this race last year for Motion with Van Dyke up) at 1 3/8 by 2 lengths. She has a win at 1 ¼ at Belmont, so she’s no stranger to winning at this distance. Last out she ran 9th at 1 ½ miles on the grass at the Spa, I like the cutback here for her. Drayden Van Dyke hops on for the first time. She sits just outside of Avenge in post #5. Game on.

The Argentinian filly Sobradora Inc looms dangerous from outside post #14 with Bejarano up again. Last out she lost to Avenge in the GII John C Mabee Stakes after she was outkicked and finished 5th in a deadheat. Prior she won the Osunitas B at Del Mar going 1 1/16 in August by 2 lengths. That was her first race in the States for trainer Simon Callaghan. She has a race record of 6:5:0:0, so watch out. Callaghan is 26% as the beaten favorite. Can she turn the tables on Avenge? I like her to hit the board.

I like horses that are on winning streaks to stay in the top four slots as they are usually in form. The filly Majestic Heat, another entry for trainer Richard Mandella, deserves to stay in my picks. She will also be seeking her third win in a row, most recently the Solana Beach Stakes at Del Mar in August. Her knocks for me are both of her wins were at a mile, so we’ll see if she gets the distance of 1 1 /4 and also that rider Prat hops off to stick with Avenge. She does retain Gary Stevens again though and he’s no slouch!

For any plays I will be using these four fillies in a pick 3 or pick 4 and an exacta box with them #4,5,7 and 14. Best of luck to everyone Saturday. The 2016 Breeders’ Cup is right around the corner folks!

Rodeo Drive Post Positions & Odds
1. Keri Belle 15-1 N.Arroyo Jr./J.Shirreffs
2. Frenzified (GB) 10-1 S.Gonzalez/J.Cassidy
3. Queen of the Sand 20-1 B.Blanc/P.Gallagher
4. Avenge 6-1 F.Prat/R.Mandella
5. Real Smart 15-1 D.Van Dyke/H.G.Motion
6. Tiz A Kiss 20-1 J.Talamo/R.Baltas
7. Majestic Heat 12-1 G.Stevens/R.Mandella
8. Fresh Feline 20-1 C.Sutherland/J.Shirreffs
9. Generosidade (URU) 12-1 T.Pereira/P. Lobo
10. Nancy From Nairobi (GB) 10-1 M.Smith/J.Sadler
11. Decked Out 12-1 K.Desormeaux/J.Desormeaux
12. Zipessa 7-2 F.Geroux/M.Stidham
13. Elektrum 5-1 V.Espinoza/J.Sadler
14. Sobradora Inc (ARG) 6-1 R.Bejarano/S.Callaghan