Jeff Siegel: What You Need to Know - Santa Anita | Friday, June 2, 2023

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.

RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 3-Johnny Paycheck
Backups/savers: 2-Ghostly Act; 5-California Bay.

Forecast: Johnny Paycheck finished third as the 3/2 favorite in a similar state-bred maiden turf miler last month but after going to his knees at the start to lose his best chance the son of Violence actually ran a winning race in defeat. He’s a six-race maiden and perhaps not one to totally trust, but based on his last race the Phil D’Amato-trained gelding deserves another chance. Ghostly Act has a steadily improving pattern, having finished third in his last three starts with rising speed figures. He should be running on late, and with another forward move could give our top pick some competition. California Bay closed a gap (and galloped out in front into the clubhouse turn) after lacking early speed in his sprint debut last month, winding up a better-than-looked fourth, and Jeff Mullins-trained runners usually improve a bunch (24% with second time starters) after they’ve had an outing. He’s less exposed than the other two main players, though we normally prefer a maiden to have two sprints before stretching out. You have to use him.

RACE 2: Post: 1:35 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 2-Bella Renella
Backups/savers: 3-Sheza Girly Girl

Forecast: Bella Renella returns to her claim level after beating a tougher field at Golden Gate Fields two races back but then finishing last of seven when overmatched in an allowance race last month. She’s not particularly quick from the blocks, but in a five runner affair she should be able to negotiate a decent trip. On pure numbers she’s a major player, and with top jockey Juan Hernandez taking the call, we’re expecting a return to form for the daughter of Clubhouse Rise, who has five prior wins over the Santa Anita main track. Sheza Girly Girl was given a couple of tough recent tasks, but like our top pick returns to the $20,000 ranks, and with two previous local wins she’s another that clearly can handle the local dirt strip. The veteran Richard’s Kid mare exits a productive race and should be doing her best work late.

RACE 3: Post: 2:08 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Vantastic; 1-Time to Party
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: Vantastic seeks his third straight victory in this starter optional $50,000 claiming turf miler after winning for fun over this course and distance two races back and then shortening to the Hillside course and producing a strong late kick to get up in time in a photo to capture a second level allowance event. Freshened for 10 weeks but remaining protected by hot trainer Peter Eurton, the veteran gelding show a steady, healthy series of workouts in the interim and can be expected to fire another huge shot. Additionally, he’s a five-time winner over the local lawn and is very fast on speed figures. Time to Party is another with an obvious affection for the Santa Anita grass course (three wins, two seconds, in eight starts) and returns to reality after being pitched too high in the Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs (eighth of 11) last month. A repeat of his highly rated win two runs back makes him the one to fear most. Both should be used in rolling exotic play, with Vantastic getting the main push.

RACE 4: Post: 2:40 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 1-Tom Horn; 2-Montana
Backups/Savers: none.

Forecast: We’ve got this maiden $50,000 claiming sprint down to a pair of contenders, and neither one can be trusted, so the best advice is to treat this race with caution., Tom Horn has faced considerably tougher foes than he’s seeing today in his first start for a tag, so based on his interior fractions the son of Grazen could get loose and take this group gate-to-wire, assuming he leaves cleanly from the rail. Montana is an eight race maiden with speed figures that have stagnated, but he’s hit the board four times, so if our top pick buckles at this extended sprint distance the son of Exaggerator could pick up the pieces close home.

RACE 5: Post: 3:12 PT Grade: B
Main ticket (in order of preference): 1-Free and Humble; 3-Unkept Secret
Backups/savers: 8-Ava’s Storm.

Forecast: Free and Humble makes the all-important class drop from maiden to maiden claiming, and in her second start off a layoff the daughter of Free Drop Willy should be ready to step forward and graduate. She’s solid on numbers, retains top rider Juan Hernandez, is guaranteed a ground-saving trip from the rail, and doesn’t really have a whole lot to beat. Unkept Secret was claimed for $50,000 last November at Churchill Downs and makes her seasonal debut for owner-trainer Paulo Capestra while eligible for ship-and-win money in her first start with Lasix. Second in both of her starts during her juvenile campaign (on dirt), the daughter of Secret Circle clearly is unproven on grass, but her numbers fit well and her recent workouts at San Luis Rey Downs should have her tight enough. Ava’s Storm gets a considerable weight break with the switch to bug boy Alsagoor and though beaten as the favorite in a similar spot last month can improve with a clean break from the gate. Toss her in as a backup or a saver.

RACE 6: Post: 3:44 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 4-Charlotte Harbor; 6-Everlys Girl
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: Charlotte Harbor drops out of a series of much tougher starter’s allowance races and appears to have found a winning spot in this $20,000 claiming extended sprint for fillies and mares. Though winless in four starts this year, the daughter of Munnings has earned recent speed figures that are quite competitive at this level, so with the switch to top jockey Juan Hernandez the Vladimir Cerin-trained filly seems reasonably solid. Everlys Girl, a two-time winner over the local main track, lands the cozy outside post and projects to be the controlling speed. Given that type of trip, the Shaman Ghost filly, who managed to finish a nose in front of our top pick two races back when a good runner-up in a legitimate race for the level, might shake loose early without pressure and carry this field a long way.

RACE 7: Post: 4:16 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 6-She’s Got a Way
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: She’s Got a Way had no real excuse when third as the favorite in a starter’s allowance affair last time out over the downhill course last month but gets a chance to make amends over the inner layout that produced a clever score two runs back. In fact, we have clear evidence that she’s more comfortable on the flat track than she is coming down the Hill, so at 5/2 on the morning line she offers a reasonable gamble to regain her best form. At anywhere near that price, the Peter Eurton-trained daughter of Tonalist is a win play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 8: Post: 4:45 PT Grade: B
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Established; 6-My Man Bags
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: Established was a “much the best” winner for $12,500 last month and today is protected in starter’s allowance company by trainer Tim Yakteen, who appears to have made a timely claim with the veteran son of Constitution. First or second in 12 of 21 career starts and never off the board (with three wins) over the Santa Anita main track, the veteran gelding retains Kyle Frey and is a versatile type that can win on the lead or from a second flight stalking position. My Man Bags is strictly the one to beat, though he was a disappointing fourth, beaten nine lengths, when facing state-bred allowance foes as the 8/5 favorite in late April. The Mark Glatt-trained gelding remains protected in a sign of confidence and probably beats this group with a repeat of his highly rated gate-to-wire score two runs back. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.

RACE 9: Post: 5:21 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 2-Tallis 7-Keen to Go
Backups/savers: 4-So I’m Told

Forecast: Tallis was a tad unlucky when a close third in a similar starter optional claimer at a mile on this course last month after lacking room at a critical stage on the turn and then being placed in somewhat close quarters in deep stretch. The lightly raced gelding gets an extra furlong to work with and should settle in the second flight and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. His morning line of 7/2 seems reasonable. Keen to Go just won a maiden $50,000 claimer over this course and distance with a career top number and makes his first start following a claim by trainer Jeff Mullins. He’s also a first-time gelding, so further improvement is possible, and based on speed figures not much more will be needed for a repeat score. So I’m Told, second in his last three starts and a good runner-up in the same race our top pick exits, is just 1-for-16 in his career and clearly lacks a winning punch, but projects to enjoy an easy pace-stalking trip and remain a strong factor to the wire.

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