G1 La Brea S. (12/26/20)

The Grade 1 La Brea will go off as Santa Anita's 8th race carrying a $300,000 purse going one turn at 7 furlongs on the main track. A week before we wish a Happy Birthday to this classy field of fillies, they'll do battle as sophomores one last time on a loaded opening day card from The Great Race Place. 7 of the 11 entries have a winning spin at this track on their resume while 3 contenders ship in to see this track for the first time.

#2 Merneith 4/1

Has put together two straight that would win again today breaking through an 82/76 DTOP to do just enough to win on a 79/76 SOFT last out. You have to consider matching a DTOP is sometimes an indicator of a runner's ceiling. She can match again and run well in this race on those Figures but others that look to be on the improve could surprise us with higher ceilings today (and higher payoffs).

#3 Himiko 8/1

Consistent runner has built off early COMP and NPT Patterns and last out's 72/72 SOFT designation indicates she could have given more if needed when romping by 6 lengths. Has the potential to take this big step up today, but we'll want to assess whether the odds the public offers us match the amount of improvement we're going to be asking (about 4 points on Final Figure).

#4 Secret Keeper 6/1

Has seen her Final Figures drop start to start. Off the 78/70 NPT, a positive conditioning pattern, was unable to return quickly and use that move to her advantage, but instead laid off 2 months only to return with a dull 72/67 performance. Another 2 months off here, she seems to lack the development others have gotten by campaigning and improving steadily throughout the year.

#5 Finite 7/2

Likes to distribute her energy well over the entirety of the race as the only runner that has displayed a negative dirt spread (Final Figure higher than 4F Figure) on dirt throughout the year. This translates to late speed and she is plenty worth of respect here, but sacrificing favoritism isn't often successful with runners coming from out of position as she'll need help from her rivals in the form of late deceleration. Value-wise, seems worth the risk to relegate this one to underneath only.

#6 Biddy Duke 12/1

She's the most campaigned runner of 2020 coming in off 9 starts this year and the 4F as well as Final Figures have trended upwards throughout her development. Strong statement to bring her speed to the turf and win last out as you know most rivals on the grass are coming loaded into the stretch. If she runs back to her delayed CPT on the dirt, her 81 4F Figure set then is best of the field's Last 4F and puts her in a position to be live in this race at great odds.

#7 Provocation 12/1

Lightly-raced runner started well on the 74/71 COMP debut but while setting subsequent NPTs with forward-type spreads of +7 and +13, did not use that conditioning to move forward last out coming off a weak 70/67. We've seen surprises from this barn plenty of times and interesting they see fit to try a Grade 1 here. Baffert has 4 entered in this race so it's hard to back the one entry that has shown no progression since debut. Tricky part comes when you see the series of very fast drills leading in. Watch out.

#8 Motivated Seller 5/1

Shows great class by being able to consistently match her 4F Figures while improving her Final Figure with each start despite shipping and adjusting to different circuits while developing late pace as well. In her 3 starts, the spreads have gone +12 to +5 to +4. Must be respected.

#9 Fair Maiden 12/1

Winner on 3 surfaces (dirt, all-weather, turf) was checked up last race and did well to recover and pass some rivals late. Giving a pass for that one, the SOFT designation of her 76/76 dirt win indicates she could have given more if needed. With a clean trip today, we can expect better and a move forward puts her right there with a shot.

#10 Golden Principal 12/1

Owns consistently strong 4F Figures for this field topping 80+ in 4 of 5 sprint tries. Moving back to 7 furlongs here, the long backstretch of this one turn event gives rivals a bit more time to work themselves into position and takes a bit of advantage away from a runner with strong 4F Figures but weak Final Figures. Needs to show a big improvement to stick around late.

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