The prep race schedule for the 2016 Kentucky Derby Trail takes a break this week, but there is still some major graded stakes racing action at Santa Anita & Aqueduct.
<p>Look for a small but talented field for this year’s Santa Monica highlighted by a couple of veteran thoroughbreds trying to get off to a fast start in a brand new season of racing. The following are a pair of horses that come together perfectly for an exacta play in Saturday’s <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/picks/" target="_blank" title="More Free Sports Picks Here">sport picks</a>.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Santa Monica Stakes- Santa Anita Park</strong><br /> The Santa Monica is a Grade 2 stakes race for four-year old fillies and up with a total prize purse of $200,000. It will be contested on the dirt at Santa Anita over a distance of seven furlongs.</p> <p><strong>Prize Exhibit</strong> has already made a big splash as a newly turned four-year old with a victory in the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes over a distance of 6 ½ furlongs at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 3. She did fade to sixth in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar and seventh in the Grade 1 QE II Challenge at Keeneland her previous two times out at longer distances to close-out her three-year old campaign, but the shorter distance of this Saturday’s race should work in her favor.</p> <p>Trained by James Cassidy, Prize Exhibit has an overall rating of 6.27 by Horse Racing Nation and one of her two victories as a three-year old came at this track in the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes in late June.</p> <p>My second choice for this Saturday’s Santa Monica Stakes would be trainer Philip D’Amato’s <strong>Sunday Rules</strong>. This five-year old California-bred mare has the highest HRN rating in the field at 7.39 and she has not finished out of the money in her last seven races. This includes a strong track record at Santa Anita with victories in three-straight races here last year including the Spring Fever Stakes on May 23.</p> <p>Sunday Rules last raced on Nov. 22 as a four-year old and she went on to win a five furlong allowance race at Del Mar. She also ran well in her last graded stakes event with a second-place finish in last season’s Grade 2 Great Lady M at Los Alamitos on July 11 over a distance of 6 ½ furlongs.</p> <p style="text-align:center"><a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/picks/more-sports/horse-racing-betting-report-2016-kentucky-derby-futures-odds/65889/" target="_blank" title="All you need to know about the Kentucky Derby"><var>Must Read: 2016 Kentucky Derby Future Odds</var></a></p> <p><strong>Bonus Race: Busanda Stakes- Aqueduct Racetrack</strong><br /> The Busanda is a listed race for three-year old fillies and it will be contested on the dirt track at Aqueduct over a distance of 1 mile 70 yards.</p> <p>The entered field of three-year old fillies for this Saturday’s Busanda stands at seven, but the horse that clearly stands-out from the rest is <strong>Flora Dora</strong>. This is a relatively inexperienced field when it comes to stakes races, but this three-year old Florida-bred filly has already proven she can step-up in class. As a juvenile, she caught everyone’s attention with a solid second-place finish behind Big World in the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 4 over a distance of a mile. At a longer distance of a 1 1/8 mile in the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 28, she finished just out of the money in fourth place.</p> <p>Flora Dora is trained by Marialice Coffey and look for Jose Ortiz to get the ride. She is the only horse in the field rated by HRN at 5.45.</p> <p>The rest of the field has all had a level of success in some Maiden Special Weight races and some Maiden Claimers at Aqueduct during their juvenile campaign, but one filly that I see taking the next step by finishing in the money in a stakes race would be <strong>Alto Belle</strong>. This is famed trainer Todd Pletcher’s entry into Saturday’s Busanda and jockey Irad Ortiz is expected to be on board.</p> <p>In her final race as a two-year old, she finished first in a MSW race at Aqueduct on Nov. 20 over a distance of 1 mile and in her racing debut last season she took second in a MSW race at Belmont over a distance of 1 1/16 mile.</p>