Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, and Workout Commentary identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.
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Grade A=Highest degree of confidence
Grade B=Solid Play.
Grade C=Least preferred or pass
Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play
RACE 1: Post: 12:30 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 1-Irish Prophet; 7-Dancing Rinca
Forecast: Older maidens meet over a mile on grass in the Friday opener in which trainer Neil Drysdale holds the aces with the two contenders. Irish Prophet earned a career top speed figure when fifth, beaten less than a length, in a similar affair at Del Mar in November and sports a healthy, steady series of workouts in recent weeks to have him fit and ready. He’s guaranteed an ideal ground-saving trip from his favorable rail draw, retains leading rider Juan Hernandez, and projects to be withing striking range throughout. Stablemate Dancing Rinca was second, beaten a neck, when worn down late in the same race our top pick exits, and likely will be taken back early and allowed to run late. With some help up front, he is sure to be heard from in the final furlong.
RACE 2: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 3-Naughty Evelyn; 4-Awesome Pamela
Forecast: Naughty Evelyn has been away since last May but projects as the controlling speed, and if not policed during the early stages she could take this restricted (nw-2) $16,000 field gate to wire. This low profile barn doesn’t win many but Umberto Rispoli knows this veteran mare well and hopefully will be able to hold her together in the final furlong. Awesome Pamela likes this main track (in the frame in four of five career starts) and is the most dangerous of the closing types. She’s a one-paced grinder but has numbers that fit and is a “must use” in rolling exotic play.
RACE 3: Post: 1:30 PT Grade: X
Main ticket (in order of preference): 6-Sassy Nature
Backups/savers: 4-Devil Among Us
Forecast: Sassy Nature toyed with state-bred maiden fillies over this track and distance three weeks ago and returns on the one level raise while this time facing the boys. The daughter of Straight Fire was never off the bridle when coasting home to register a nine length score in a race that produced a powerful Beyer speed figure, and anything close to that performance will be more than good enough for a repeat score. If you would prefer to have some protection, you should also consider Devil Among Us as a saver just in case the favorite goes backwards. The Phil D’Amato-trained colt looked decent when graduating last month at Los Alamitos in what has proven to be a productive race, and while he’s much slower on figures than the filly he certainly should have plenty of room for further improvement.
RACE 4: Post: 2:00 PT Grade: C
Main ticket (in order of preference): 6-Violet Crown; 8-Love Our Family
Forecast: Best suggestion is to tread lightly here. Six of the nine entrants in this mile grass affair for state-bred maiden fillies exit the same race captured by Nyvan earlier this month, and none of them did anything particularly noteworthy behind the winner other than clunk up for a minor award in a slow, low-rated affair. In that race, Violet Crown was bumped hard off stride when trying to rally at the furlong pole and probably should have finished closer than fifth (beaten four and one-half lengths). It was her sixth career start and her numbers have stagnated but of the group she ran at least as well as runner-up Love Our Family, who made the lead as the controlling speed before proving little match for the winner. Rolling exotic players should at least use these two, plus anything else that you’d like to toss in.
RACE 5: Post: 2:30 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Midnight Vow
Forecast: Midnight Vow exits a much better race – a maiden optional $40,000 claimer as opposed to this straight $40,000 affair – and based on numbers should be able to outrun this modest group. The Hector Palma-trained daughter of Broken Vow projects as the controlling speed based on our early fractional analysis, and if she can shake loose early without pressure it would be no surprise to see her wire the field. In a race in which nothing else catches the eye, let’s use her in the win pool and as a rolling exotic single.
RACE 6: Post: 3:00 PT Grade: A-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 4-Mi Hermano Ramon
Forecast: Mi Hermano Ramon won his debut last month at Del Mar around two turns like a high quality grass prospect and returns in this five runner non-winners of two Hillside Turf Course sprint to prove he can sprint as well as he routes. Based on his workouts since his win, the son of Creative Cause should have no difficulty with the turn back in trip. Similar to his first start, we’re expecting to see him relax off the pace during the early stages and then cut loose when given his cue. We’ll make him a strong win play and rolling exotic single.
RACE 7: Post: 3:30 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Saffa’s Day
Backups/savers: 6-As Amatter of Fact
Forecast: Saffa’s Day drops to the $32,000 level in his second start since being claimed for $50,000 by trainer Mark Glatt, certainly not a confidence-building maneuver, but in a weak race for the level the son of Carpe Diem can outrun this group with anything close to his best. Bug boy Aguilar stays aboard and should have this gelding close to the projected modest pace, perhaps even in front. On pure numbers, he’s the best of the lot, and having finished first or second in six of 15 career starts he’s always been fairly dependable when properly spotted. As Amatter of Fact seems likely to settle within striking range outside and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. The Union Rags gelding was well clear of the rest when second at this level at Del Mar in November in an effort that charts quite well with these, but his work tab since then has been noticeably spotty. If ready, he’ll be a factor.
RACE 8: Post: 4:00 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 1-Circleofchampions; 3-Flint Stroll
Backups/savers: 4-So I’m Told; 6-Derecho Dandy
Forecast: Circleofchampions produced a career top speed figure when second in a restricted (nw-2) $32,000 claimer at Del Mar in November and returns protected in a sign of confidence while landing a favorable inside draw over a course he’s run well on in the past. A steady series of workouts should tick him over nicely, so let’s put the Carla Gaines-trained gelding on top and hope that he’s allowed to display the type of tactical speed that puts him on or near the lead throughout. Flint Stroll goes for new connections following a $32,000 claim when second at 3/5 over the local lawn three weeks ago. He’s solid on numbers and picks up top rider Juan Hernandez, so the son of Flintshire is certain to get plenty of play again. So I’m Told may lack a winning punch but he’s usually in the thick of things late and should at least get a piece of it. Derecho Dandy shows up in a starter $50,000 optional claimer after a four race series of disappointing sixth place finishes when facing allowance foes, and it’s hard to know if this is his proper level. His only win was accomplished in gate-to-wire fashion, so perhaps those tactics will be employed, but after making a clear lead in an all-weather race up north last month the son of Connect got run over and stopped to a walk. We’ll toss him in on a ticket as backup but nothing more than that.