Handicapping Santa Monica Stakes, Thunder Road Stakes at Santa Anita

Show people the money. That’s what Santa Anita Park intends to do with a power-packed weekend lineup.

After a Friday card, the Arcadia facility has a loaded weekend slate. The main attraction is four stakes races that propel its Saturday purse payout to $960,000, one of the industry’s best.

Santa Anita follows on Sunday with a pair of stakes events and a mandatory payout of its Rainbow Pick 6 Jackpot.


Here’s the overview for California horse betting enthusiasts, who can access the action live and via the TVG app.


  • An eight-race card starts at 12:30 p.m.
  • Most of the fields have six-, seven-, and eight-horse fields.
  • The finale has nine.


  • The $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes at 7 furlongs
  • The $200,000 R.B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles 
  • The $100,000 Megahertz Stakes at 1 mile, turf
  • The $100,000 Thunder Road Stakes, 1 mile, turf. This one has a big 12-horse field to close out the card. Excellent candidate for a nice payday.


  • The $200,0000 San Marcos Stakes at 1 1-4 miles
  • The $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at 6 furlongs

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Pick 6 Payout

Santa Anita’s popular 20-cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick 6 Jackpot will offer players a mandatory payout on Sunday.

Providing there is no single ticket winner on Friday or Saturday, track officials project Sunday’s total Rainbow 6 pool will exceed the $3 million mark.

Players love the 20-cent version of this wager, because it allows a score of entries for a reasonable cost. 

This is the second of two enticing jackpots for horse-racing bettors. The other is the Coast to Coast Pick 5, which returns on Saturday and Sunday. This is a joint venture between Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.

In the Coast to Coast version, bettors must put up more money, $1 per selection, but they only  have to hit five straight races rather than six.

Most gamblers like each pool for different reasons and some like to play both.

The main question is where do players want to put their money.

For the gamblers who wager race by race, here is an overview of the ninth and 10th on Saturday.

Santa Monica Stakes

These are the horses scheduled to go from the rail out:


Was beaten soundly by Fun to Dream in allowance company last October. Got hooked up in a speed duel with Angel Nadeshiko and Fun to Dream just rolled by both of them at 2-to-5.

Fun to Dream

Has beaten three of the horses in the race. Gets Juan Hernandez, the leading jockey. Must now step up against Lady T and  Samurai Charm.

He’s won three in a row and is 5-for-6 to start his career. Sizzling.

Check the board before playing this one. His odds may be ridiculously low in a small field. Putting him in an exacta box and hoping he runs second is one way to go here. Does need to prove his worth in stakes company.

Samurai Charm

Was matching strides with Lady T into the homestretch before finishing fourth in the Las Flores Stakes. Would have to get position and hope the track  is playing faster this weekend. Lady T rallied from well off the pace to win the Las Flores.

Angel Nadeshiko

Game but outgunned. Overrun by Fun to Dream in the homestretch after he was engaged in a speed duel with Anacapa in the last. Was well-meant in the last race, but the same horses and potential pace setup exist here. That doesn’t bode well.

Awake at Midnyte

Excellent performance at 9-to-1, running a game second to Fun to Dream in the La Brea Stakes. He beat Kirstenbosch, who then came back to win the La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita. Very good horse. May be priced at a good value. 

Defeated Fun to Dream in the fall. Potential spoiler.

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Lady T

Won handily in the Las Flores at the end of December. Bested Samurai Charm and Anacapa with ease. Major threat.

Betting Overview

It will be hard to make money on this race. A single win bet and possible exacta box looks like the best way to go.

Contrast that with the last race, a wide-open Thunder Road Stakes with a big field.

Thunder Road Stakes

From the rail out:

Earl’s Rock

Had an early-career stakes victory, flopped to fifth in the Transylvania, and came back to win a nailbiter in Allowance Optional Claiming company at Del Mar in December. Flavien Prat guided him then. Prat guides him now.

All three wins have come at California tracks.

Du Jour

Will be a threat if reverting to back class. Held his own in 2021, finishing just off the board against the top horses in the world in the Saratoga Derby and Belmont Derby, on grass. Hasn’t reached the same level since.

Distant fifth in the Mathis Mile, but that was on dirt, in his last.

Past form makes him a contender. Current form hard to gauge.


Finished second in the Turf Sprint Championship at Aqueduct at a sweet price of 17-to-1. Returns to where he has an earlier triumph. That, combined with recent 1-mile victory at Laurel, brings him in here on his best. Could figure into exotics.

Bob and Jackie

Ran well enough in the San Gabriel Stakes here, finishing out of the money. Wasn’t played by the bettors, going off at 16-to-1. This is nonetheless class relief from that $200,000 race, which should help.

Kiss Today Goodbye

That might be what bettors say about him. Appropriate drop down after a buried seventh in the Joe Hernandez Stakes. Also finished behind Irideo, who is in this race, and Air Force Red, who won it. Too much to ask.

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Three dull efforts in Grade II company. Did not belong with that group. May belong with these, but not in a good form cycle.

There Goes Harvard

If handicappers are scholars, last effort could stump the Harvard crowd. A bad ninth at the San Diego Handicap after three straight wins, including the Hollywood Gold  Cup.

Hasn’t raced since July.

Some handicappers will give him a pass for the last race. Others will think he has lost form.

Air Force Red

Brilliant front-end victory in the Joe Hernandez, ridden by Juan Hernandez. Gets the leading jockey again. Won’t get those lucrative 7-to-1 odds from the last race. Quality horse, makes all the sense, with the top connections.

Will be used in most tickets.

Hit The Road

That’s probably what bettors will think after he ran 10th in the Joe Hernandez.

Dark Shift

Won the Heritage in Great Britain at 1 mile. Not much known about him in the states. That will  change after this one.


Very little known about the Japan product. This will provide a baseline for players.

Cabo Spirit

With a better trip, would have done better than fifth in the Hollywood Derby, which is a better race than this one.

Previously had a triumph in the Twilight Derby.

Based on class, he should be in the mix, but outside post is a concern. Will need tactical speed to get position. If he can do that, he should hit the board.

Betting Overview

Whomever you like should be a decent price on the win line. Mid-range to longshots are viable in the second and third slots.

Possible way to catch this:

First, if you have a strong feeling on the win line, go heavy with that.

Next level could be a $1 trifecta key, putting your favorite horse in the first and second slots with three others, for a cost of $12.

Let’s use Air Force Red as an example with the random numbers 1-3.

You would put the 8 in the first slot with the 1-2-3 second and third. The 8 must finish first and the others fill up the second and third places. You would then put the 8 second with the same horses. He must run second and the others have to fill up the first and third positions.

Good approach if you have a strong feeling for one horse and you like some longshots.

Overall, there are some excellent money-making chances sitting out there this weekend.

I hope you get yours. Good luck.

About the Author
Handicapping Santa Monica Stakes, Thunder Road Stakes at Santa Anita 1

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a writer for California Casinos, and has covered the horse racing and boxing industry extensively since the 1980s. He was an award-winning writer at the Press of Atlantic City. As a broadcaster, he has won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting, issued by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has called major fights for HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and other networks since the 1980s. He is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Dave shifted gears to cover the emerging legalized sports-betting industry in 2018. He now serves as the go-to authority on horse race betting across multiple websites, including California Casinos.