Santa Anita Handicap (Santa Anita Park) Predictions, Odds & Picks

Santa Anita Handicap Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Santa Anita Handicap at Santa Anita!

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PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
A Cedillo B Baffert
J J Hernandez M McCarthy
F Prat B Cox
D Herrera D O’Neill
M Smith G Papaprodromou
V Espinoza J Shirreffs
K Frey E Kruljac
J Velazquez E Moger Jr

Best Bets for the Santa Anita Handicap

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$5 Exacta Box – Express Train, Stilleto Boy and Soy Tapatio = $30
$20 Win – Soy Tapatio = $20
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top longshot pick Soy Tapatio (12/1).

Santa Anita Handicap

Looking better than ever at the age of 5, Express Train will look to add another feather in his cap when he headlines a field of eight older males entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.

Trained by John Shirreffs, the son of Union Rags has strung together back-to-back impressive victories at Santa Anita.

Two starts back he nipped the top class Hot Rod Charlie in the closing stages of the Grade 2 San Antonio, and his 2022 got off to a strong start when he rolled home a 3 ½-length winner of the Grade San Pasqual. A winner of 6-of-16 lifetime, he will look to break the million-dollar mark in career winnings with a strong effort in the race in which he finished second last season.

Chief among his rivals in the 10 furlong affair will be the hard-trying Stilleto Boy.

The winner of the Iowa Derby last summer, he has been in tough against some combination of Medina Spirit, Knicks Go, Essential Quality, Flightline and Life Is Good in his last five tries. He has not broken through, but has remained relatively competitive against the sport’s top dirt horses. A 4-year-old son of Shackleford, he finished a good third in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup in his most recent try.

A two-time Derby winner last year, the Brad Cox trained Warrant should also garner some wagering attention. He comes into the Big Cap off a third-place finish to the strong duo of Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon in the Louisiana Stakes six weeks ago. A 4-year-old son of Constitution, he earned his first graded stakes win two starts back in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby last fall.

Santa Anita Handicap Predictions – Race Analysis

Express Train

A good second in this race last year, this son of Union Rags looks to be coming up to this year’s edition in fine fettle after two very nice grade stakes wins over the track in December and February. He also clearly likes the Santa Anita track, regularly running good races there against solid competition.

On the negative, he will need to lug around the highweight impost of 124 pounds, giving from three to eight pounds to his competition. At a shorter trip, that would mean less, but at 1 ¼ miles, I do think it will matter. He also will be a clear favorite as he looks to win his third straight, but this time at a distance where he is 0-for-3 lifetime. He is the one to beat, but considering the weight, odds and a distance that is probably longer than his best, I will take a shot to beat him.

Stilleto Boy

This son of Shackleford exits a fine performance where he threatened the Horse of the Year Knicks Go for second behind Life Is Good in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup.

It’s been a while since his last win, which came impressively in the Iowa Derby last July, but he has kept absolutely terrific company since then, running against all the best dirt horses in the country in his last five races. He hasn’t come overly close to winning, but he has been pretty solid against all those big boys.

Despite the history and prestige of this race, this will actually be the lightest field he has faced in a while. With good tactical speed and getting three pounds from the favorite, he rates a big shot to get his first graded stakes win on Saturday.


Making his first start in Grade 1 company, while running in California for the first time, he actually may have found an easier spot than last time when he was a well-beaten third behind the top-class rivals Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon in New Orleans.

That was his initial try against really good horses and the 9-length loss does not inspire confidence. Having said that, he was good enough to finish first or second in four decent stakes races before that. This 85th edition of the Santa Anita Handicap may not be the strongest, but I just have a feeling that this Brad Cox-trained son of Constitution is a cut below Grade 1 company.


A graded stakes winner at 2, this one’s Kentucky Derby hopes were derailed by a poor effort in the Florida Derby, from which he did not return from for nearly ten months.

The comeback effort was quite good, rallying to win in allowance company by three lengths. Put up against tougher in his second start back, he proved no real threat to Express Train in the San Pasqual.

The son of Union Rags, trained by Bob Baffert, is certainly eligible to take a step forward in his third start back, but he has never before beaten a field like this, having tried several times. He’s a danger in here, but I like others better.

Why Why Paul Why

This one is a bit of a wildcard as he has seemingly left his claiming days in the rearview mirror. Big improvement started last summer for the 5-year-old Arcarcharch runner, and he was able to rattle off four straight good looking wins at Parx. His toughest test before Saturday came last time when he was second-best in the Jazil Stakes at Aqueduct.

The winner in that one ran a big race, but he was no match. Now he goes up against even tougher while making his first start for trainer Michael McCarthy. He’ll need another step up, but with a nice weight break from the favorites, he is a possibility.

Soy Tapatio

The most lightly raced horse in the field gets in relatively light at 116 pounds, getting eight from Express Train and five from Stilleto Boy. That could be significant at the 10-furlong distance for a horse who looks like he wants the added ground. This is obviously a big class test for a horse who was still a maiden just three starts ago. He’s clearly on the improve, though, as he makes his stakes debut.

When stretched out to 8 ½ furlongs two starts back, he dominated fellow maidens all the way around, and in his first try against allowance company, he closed with an impressive burst. The two favorites are obviously tough in here, but this longshot has a lot to like. I think he has a chance to upset the whole thing.

American Theorem

Still pretty lightly raced, this son of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah has enough speed to take the early lead in the race, where he will likely have the two race favorites in close pursuit.

If they are more worried about each other than this one, perhaps he could prove brave in the stretch, but at 10 furlongs there does not appear to be enough in his past performances to expect him to go all the way around. His win to start the year was promising, but when put up against good horses in the San Pasqual he wilted, as he has done before.

Kiss Today Goodbye

Sixth in this race last year, this 5-year-old son of Cairo Prince has occasionally been known to throw in a big one, such as his win in the Grade 2 San Antonio in 2020, or his good runner-up in last fall’s Grade 3 Native Diver.

Those strong efforts come too few and far between, though, to really back his chances. If he does reverse his recent form, he is eligible to rally into the exotics, but he’s just been way too dull in his last two for me to strongly consider. Both of those poor efforts came at Santa Anita and behind Express Train, as well.

How to Watch the Santa Anita Handicap

Santa Anita Handicap Stakes Information
What Santa Anita Handicap (Grade 1)
Where Santa Anita Park
When Saturday, March 5 — 8:00 pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $650,000

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]