Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition

Turf handicappe­rs, sharpen your pencils

- By Brad Free

ARCADIA, Calif. – Before the turf-sprint stakes program at Santa Anita continues Saturday on the hillside course, the standard protocol applies to maiden turf sprinters on Friday.

Hillside racing resumed in fall 2021 after a 2 1/2-year interlude. Since its comeback, use of the downhill course has been limited. Hillside races are reserved for winners only; turfsprint maidens run only on the main oval. That includes three of the first five races Friday.

The program begins with a $50,000 maiden-claiming turf sprint and habitual bridesmaid Devil Moon. Never mind the six-furlong sprint is Devil Moon’s 13th attempt at a maiden victory. Runner-up in three recent starts, Devil Moon is due.

A 6 1/2-furlong turf sprint for California-bred maidens Friday was split in separate divisions. Race 3 marks the debut of Unzip Me Lord, whose dam Unzip Me ranks among California’s alltime leading female turf sprinters. Unzip Me Lord has trained well for Carla Gaines.

The second division is race 5, and Gaines has another live entrant. Stylishlya­cclaimed figures to improve following a promising sixth-place debut. His main rival might be stablemate Sanger, sired by Desert Code and a sibling to debut winner and stakes winner Closing Remarks.

While three Friday turf sprints are on the main oval, $100,000 weekend stakes honor hillside Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winners – the Mizdirecti­on Stakes on Saturday, and the Desert Code Stakes on Sunday. Mizdirecti­on nominees include course specialist­s Big Summer and Freedom Flyer; the top Desert Code nominee is hillside stakes winner First Peace.

Race 7 on Friday is an allowance turf mile for California­bred 3-year-old fillies. Sell the Dream, five-time stakesplac­ed on turf, drops in class for trainer Brian Koriner and jockey Ramon Vazquez. Although stakes-placed laterunner Uncontroll­able has never raced on turf, her closing style is not perceived as a liability compared to dirt. Michael McCarthy trains, Juan Hernandez rides.

Seven are entered in the allowance turf mile, which boils down to a showdown between Sell the Dream and Uncontroll­able. Meanwhile, the earlier maiden turf sprints offer bettors a variety of choices.

Race 1 favorite Devil Moon, runner-up in five of his last six, is the high-figure starter. But lightly raced Snapp Daddy ran well with a wide trip last time in a similar maiden-claiming turf sprint. Class dropper Bolt From Heaven has longshot pedigree appeal. His dam was ordinary until she moved to turf.

Unzip Me Lord, in race 3, is the fifth runner produced by 10-time stakes winner Unzip Me. Her first four starters are winners, including Gainestrai­ned debut winner Zip Now. Unzip Me Lord, sired by Lord Nelson, faces fast-working Golden Gate-based Defensor Fortis, whose sire Air Force Blue rarely gets debut winners. According to Formulator, he is 1 for 57 with older firsters.

Stylishlya­cclaimed enters race 5 as one of the most attractive gambles on the card. He broke slowly at 20-1 in his debut, finished well for sixth, and galloped out willingly after the wire. With a race under his belt, the 4-year-old gelding is set to graduate over debut stablemate Sanger.

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