​Santa Anita Park Horse Racing Picks for Sunday 1/17/21

It's a great time to dive into horse racing, and FanDuel Racing gives you the chance to do just that.

Starting at 3:30 p.m. EST, we have nine races at Santa Anita Park. Using numberFire’s projections as a guide, here are some of the best bets.

As always, check the program for scratches and changes, and check the weather and track conditions.

(I will reference Equibase's Speed Figure in selected races, which tells you how fast a horse has been running in each of its races -- adjusted for track, distances, and conditions.)

Bench Judge and Gate Speed, Race 3

FanDuel Racing Odds: 2/1 and 4/1

Race 2 is a Starter Optional $50K Claiming race for older horses that is sprinting 6 furlongs on the turf. The top pick by numberFire’s projection is Gate Speed (4/1) followed by top challengers Rager (4/1) and Best Chance (5/1).

Favorite Bench Judge (2/1) shortens up off a mile race when he finished runner-up but was backed up behind horses early. Ridden by leading jockey Joel Rosario for EPO trainer Peter Miller, Bench Judge launched a six-wide rally down the lane to finish second with a career-best 102 speed figure against better company than this group. He also finished second here in October and is among the top speed in this field along with Rager and Best Chance. Bench Judge has three strong bullet works since his last race, and he looks ready to win.

Rager returns off an extended layoff, and the three-year-old by Into Mischief had his best finish last year over this turf course in a stakes race with a 92 speed figure. Gate Speed finished third here January 1st in a fast duel, running on the lead for the opening half-mile.

Big Beauty and Delta Wind, Race 5

FanDuel Racing Odds: 6/1 and 5/2

Race 5 is a Maiden Special Weight for state-bred three-year-old fillies, and it is a 6-furlong sprint on the turf. The algorithm of numberFire projects Delta Wind (5/2) to cross the finish line first just ahead of Big Beauty (6/1) and Our Little Tiger (5/1).

Delta Wind is a sibling to Race 3 favorite Bench Judge and has a consistent, ready-to-roll work pattern in place. Strong stretch rider Joel Rosario rides for trainer John Sadler, and Delta Wind is breaking from the outside No. 9 post.

Guaranteed Tip Sheet has a best bet on Our Little Tiger, who finished third on debut her, coming from off the pace in a shorter sprint.

Big Beauty makes her career debut with a solid work pattern and a win-early pedigree for Cliff Sise Jr., a trainer who does well with first timers. Horse Racing Radar notes that Sise has won with three of his last six first-time starters.

Big Clare (3/1) for EPO trainer Phil D’Amato is another filly sired by Mr. Big, same as Big Beauty. She is working after her debut at Los Alamitos, and leading jockey Flavien Prat is riding.

Quick and Altea, Race 7

FanDuel Racing Odds: 5/2 and 3/1

Race 7 is the $100K Grade III Astra Stakes on the turf. The 1 1/2-mile route is for older fillies and mares and has competitive field at the top. The top pick of numberFire is Altea (3/1) with Quick (5/2) and Ms Peintour (4/1) projected to finish in the money. Horse Racing Radar notes that French-bred Altea ran the best last-race speed figure (101) when finishing three lengths behind a previous Grade 1 winner last month. She can improve in her second race off the sidelines and in her third straight Grade III race with solid past East coast form. However, distance is a potential issue.

Quick (GB) is ridden by top turf jockey Umberto Rispoli for trainer John Sadler. She can win from off the pace, and Horse Racing Radar adds she has two second- and two third-place finishes in four starts at Santa Anita. In her last race, she finished just behind two better runners than these.

Aunt Lubie (8/1) will be galloping along the front end, trying to steal it, but has no wins since 2018. Ms Peintour won this race last year but makes her first start since last August.