Horse Racing Picks for Sunday Afternoon: Best Bets, Value Picks for Gulfstream, Santa Anita

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Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

It has been a busy weekend of horse racing across the country thus far, with numerous tracks returning to action following lengthy breaks due to the global pandemic that has interrupted sports around the world.

We are looking to close things out strong, and will focus our attention at Santa Anita Park in California and Gulfstream Park in Florida on Sunday.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at those wagers and what’s in store for today’s marquee races.

Santa Anita Park

Race 1

Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

I am hoping to make a big splash right out of the gate and have put together several tickets on the opening part of the card.

Things should go through No. 8 Lofty (9-5) in the opener and she could blow the field away in the 5 1/2-furlong sprint race for fillies and mares.

The Mike McCarthy-trained charge has superior Beyer Speed Figures averages (81-91-80 in her last three outings) when comparing her numbers to the competition, solidifying her as the class of the field.

Jockey Geovanni Franco will climb aboard Lofty, who is a perfect 3-for-3 this season at Santa Anita and will be seeking her fourth win in six career starts.

I am going to place a sizable Win-Place-Show ticket on the favorite, then pair her with No. 10 Querelle (3-1) on top of my exacta and trifecta wagers. I will use in No. 2 Thriving (6-1), No. 3 Nice Ice (8-1) and No. 5 Shines Her Light (6-1) underneath the exotic plays.

The Bets:

  • $10 Win/Place/Show: No. 8 Lofty (9-5) — $30 ticket
  • $2 exacta wager: 8/10 over 2/3/8/10 — $12 Ticket
  • $1 trifecta wager: 8/10 over 2/3/8/10 over 2/3/5/8/10 — $24 Ticket

[Bet No. 8 Lofty now at TVG and get your first bet 100% risk-free up to $300.]

Race 8: Grade III Desert Stormer Stakes

Time: 7:08 p.m. ET

The marquee event of the day pits eight talented horses against each other going six furlongs in this $100,000 stakes race.

I am going with No. 5 Bellafina (6-5) as my top choice in a very competitive field. Trainer Simon Callaghan has the 4-year-old filly by sire Quality Road back home in California after a disappointing fourth-place effort in the Carousel Stakes on April 25 at Oaklawn Park. That poor effort in Arkansas was really no surprise and I played against her that day due to her subpar road record.

In her last four races away from Santa Anita, Bellafina has finished fourth-fourth-third-fifth in stakes competition. However, the former Grade I winner has three stakes wins and two second-place finishes in her last five events at Santa Anita. She won the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks in April of 2019 and was an impressive second in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November.

Look for jockey Flavien Prat to get Bellafina back in the winner’s circle and play her with confidence. She’s a “horse for the course” and I will play her across the board.

I am going to use her with No. 3 Mother Mother (5-2) on top of my exacta wager, with No. 1 Fighting Mad (4-1) and No. 2 First Star (6-1) to round out the play.

The bets:

  • $4 Win/Place/Show: No. 5 Bellafina (6-5) — $12 Ticket
  • $4 exacta wager: 3/5 over 1/2/3/5 — $24 Ticket

[Bet No. 5 Bellafina now at TVG and get your first bet 100% risk-free up to $300.]

Favorite Multi-Race Wagers at Santa Anita

  • Pick 3 (Races 1-2-3): 2,8,10 / 1,4,5 / 1,5,6 ($1 Pick 3 = $27 Ticket)
  • Daily Double (Races 7 and 8): 1,3,4,5,8 / 3,5 ($3 Daily Double = $30 Ticket)

Gulfstream Park

Race 8

Time: 4:21 p.m. ET

My top selection here is No. 8 Rijeka (9-2), who comes in here at decent morning-line odds for this 1 1/2-mile affair.

Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr., drops Rijeka in class and stretches him out in distance after a dismal ninth-place effort in his last outing against optional claiming horses. Jockey Victor Lebron hopes to get his charge clear of any trouble and find the success he experienced two races back when the duo connected for the victory at this same distance.

I am using Rijeka and No. 7 So High (2-1) — a European invader who gets jockey Luis Saez in the saddle — on top of my exacta and trifecta wagers, with No. 3 Noble Thought (3-1) and No. 5 Duc De Calas (8-1) on the back end of the plays.

The bets:

  • $4 Win/Place/Show: No. 8 Rijeka (9-2) — $12 Ticket
  • $3 exacta wager: 7/8 over 3/5/7/8 — $18 Ticket
  • $1 trifecta wager: 7/8 over 3/5/7/8 over 1/3/4/5/7/8 — $24 Ticket

[Bet No. 8 Rijeka now at TVG and get your first bet 100% risk-free up to $300.]

Race 11

Time: 5:55 p.m. ET

I am closing out the weekend of racing with No. 6 Catharsis (3-1), who is seeking her third consecutive triumph in this Allowance Optional Claiming race for fillies and mares.

Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. gets the nod again for trainer Armando De La Cerda aboard the favorite in this huge 12-horse field. De La Cerda only hits the board 31% of the time, but having the nation’s top jockey and reigning Eclipse Award winner in the saddle seems to have made all the difference for Catharsis.

I am playing Catharsis across the board and banking on Ortiz to come through, considering the fact he’s finished in the top 3 a stunning 60% of the time in his 466 mounts during the 2020 campaign.

I will also use No. 1 Awsum Roar (7-2) on top in my exotic wagers and plug No. 3 Stormy Nelly (9-2), No. 9 Distinctly Blue (10-1), No. 10 Bye Bye Nicky (6-1) and No. 12 I Love To Race (10-1) underneath in the exacta and trifecta plays.

The bets:

  • $8 Win/Place/Show: No. 6 Catharsis (3-1) — $24 Ticket
  • $2.50 exacta wager: 1/6 over 1/3/6/9 — $16 Ticket
  • $1.50 trifecta wager: 1/6 over 1/6/9 over 1/3/6/9/10/12 — $24 Ticket

[Bet No. 6 Catharsis now at TVG and get your first bet 100% risk-free up to $300.]

Favorite Multi-Race Wagers at Gulfstream Park

  • Pick 3 (Races 2-3-4): 2,4,8 / 6,7 / 4,5,8,10 ($1.50 Pick 3 = $36 Ticket)
  • Daily Double (Races 10 and 11): 5,6,7,12 / 1,6 ($5 Daily Double = $36 Ticket)

[Bet now at TVG and get your first bet 100% risk-free up to $300.]

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