The Northern California horse racing fair circuit has begun. Action has moved to the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton (about a half-hour from Oakland), and Saturday’s card features the first stakes race of the season.
Named for the 2013 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, the She’s a Tiger Stakes headlines the nine-race program. It goes as the second leg of the late Pick Four, which I’ll look to take down with a budget-friendly $8 ticket. Here’s how I’ve put it together.
Maiden claimers kick it off
We’ll start with a field of six going five and a half furlongs. I’ll look to get out of the first leg by using the “bookends” of the group.
My top pick is No. 6 Orissa. She drops in for a tag for the first time for the Reid France barn, which has been firing on all cylinders all year long. The blinkers go on, and she sports a flashy bullet drill over this dirt surface (remember, Golden Gate Fields has a synthetic main track). I think she’ll be more forwardly placed and that the class relief will be much appreciated.
I’ll also use No. 1 Creative Motion, a first-time starter. Simply put, there are no monsters in this field. I don’t think this Jamey Thomas trainee has to be much in order to finish well. Add in that the barn can win with firsters and that she worked very well up at Sacramento, and there’s reason to believe she’s well-meant.
Four deep in the She’s a Tiger
This has the potential to be one of the most fun races of the entire meet. A full field of 10 is set to go, and I’ll go four deep in trying to beat the 3-1 morning-line favorite.
No. 2 Buyback is certainly consistent and has run well at Golden Gate since heading to Northern California in 2020. However, she’s won just once in her last nine outings, and nothing says she wants dirt. At her likely price, I think she’s an underlay.
I much prefer No. 7 Anthonys Cleopatra, who has done very little wrong. She’s won three of four career starts, and her most recent outing was excellent. She stalked and pounced to win the California Oaks by nearly four lengths. I’m not sure we’ll get the 5-1 morning line price, but she hits me as a major player.
No. 3 Tam’s Little Angel, No. 5 Day Plan, and No. 10 Northwest Factor are on my ticket as well. Northwest Factor may have been my top pick with a better post. She’s won six of 14 career dirt starts and is 4-for-5 at this distance. If Pedro Terrero can work out a trip, look out.
Eighth race sets up for a closer
My pursuit of value puts me against the two likely favorites in the third leg. Both No. 2 Born to Reign and No. 3 Bandeena will likely need the lead, and No. 7 Class Code won’t be too far back. I think that will make for a scenario that will benefit other runners.
No. 5 Sugar Kisses is a proven closer who drops back down to the right level. She was outclassed against optional claiming foes last time out but ran a good second two back at this level behind Bandeena. Bandeena had a picture-perfect trip that day, which shouldn’t repeat itself. The faster they go early, the better this one’s chances figure to be.
I’ll also use No. 6 Silk Road Sally. She’s won two of her last three starts and is another late runner whose style should fit this race shape. She’s hit the board twice in two local starts, and her best effort puts her right there at a bit of a price.
A popular single to finish
I can’t get cute in the finale, an $8,000 claimer for nonwinners of three. I think the likely favorite looms large, and I’ll happily single her in this spot.
No. 3 Morning Addiction takes a gigantic class drop. She last ran for an $18,000 tag at Santa Anita in a race that produced two next-out winners. She runs for less than half that price here against a far lesser group. Trainer Quinn Howey is off to a strong start at the meet, and this one has a big chance to wire this field at a short price.
The $8 late Pick Four ticket
R6: 1, 6
R7: 3, 5, 7, 10
R8: 5, 6