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: 1:00 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 1-Bee Catcher2-Westward Look; 4-Spirit Maker
Forecast: Restricted (nw-3) $35,000 older claimers meet over nine furlongs on grass in the Monday lid-lifter in a wide open affair that requires considerable coverage in rolling exotic play. We’ll use three but even that might not be sufficient. Bee Catcher is winless in nine career starts over the local lawn but has several back speed figures that are good enough to beat this field, and from his rail post the Dan Blacker-trained gelding is guaranteed an ideal ground-saving, second flight stalking trip. At 4-1 on the morning line he seems as good as any. Westward Look was nearly 90-1 in a straight $32,000 claiming sprint in his California debut after arriving from the East last month and completely outran those odds when finishing a willing runner-up while earning a career top speed figure. In his first start for trainer Tim Yakteen, the 5-year-old left his previous form behind with a pace-stalking/pressing trip. We’re not sure if he can duplicate that type of performance at this much longer distance, but if allowed to establish the running without pressure he might be able to see out the journey. Spirit Maker is a one-paced grinder exiting a series of tougher starter’s allowance events. Like our top pick, he’s had nine chances without winning over the Santa Anita turf course and clearly isn’t one to trust, but based strictly on numbers he has something of a look, so we’ll toss him in.
RACE 2: Post: 1:32 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 5-Rosy Edge
Backups/savers: 1-Kiss My Kat
Forecast: Rosy Edge returns to her claim level and ran very well when second against a similar bottom rung maiden claiming field two races back, an effort that if repeated today should be good enough to earn a diploma. Overmatched on grass in her most recent start when facing tougher maiden $50,000 foes, the daughter of First Samurai adds blinkers for the first time and gets a break in the weights with the switch to bug boy Aguilar. She projects to enjoy a good pace pressing trip and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. Kiss My Kat flashed good early speed in all three of her starts to date but has yet to show any desire to finish under pressure. She’s likely to clear the field and on that basis alone probably is worth tossing in as a saver or a backup on your rolling exotic ticket.
RACE 3: Post: 2:04 PT Grade: X
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Abeliefinthislivin
Forecast: Abeliefinthislivin launches a comeback for trainer Peter Miller and finds a relatively soft spot in his first outing since last summer in this maiden optional claiming main track sprint. Extremely fast on speed figures – he was third behind two of the best colts in the current national 3-year-old ranks in Cave Rock and Practical Move – the son of Arrogate shows a :59 2/5 five furlong breeze at San Luis Rey Downs nine days ago to have him cranked and ready. At 6/5 on the morning line and certain to go lower, he is a no value but highly logical rolling exotic single.
RACE 4: Post: 2:36 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): Book Smart
Forecast: Book Smart, an Emerald Downs invader who hadn’t been out since August and showed only modest form, made his Southern California debut for trainer Mark Glatt and ran lights out in defeat when a close second in a fast, highly-rated dash at this level nearly two months ago. He’s trained steadily since then to remain on edge and will be hard to beat if he can duplicate his dirt form on grass. We can’t say he is bred to improve on the lawn, but based on his numbers he won’t have to. Glatt’s other starter, Wyfire, probably can be included for protection as a backup. Three times second in four career starts over the Santa Anita turf course, the son of Dominus was below his best when unplaced in a similar grass dash here in mid-January but he has back form that makes him a threat and retains Flavian Prat.
RACE 5: Post: 3:08 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket (in order of preference): Starship Defiant; 5-La Deuxieme Etoile
Forecast: There’s nothing to trust in this allowance optional claiming main track miler for fillies and mares but on their best day Starship Defiant and La Deuxieme Etoile should be able to separate themselves from the others. ‘Defiant removes blinkers (love that angle) after finishing a solid runner-up under these conditions last month and not much more will be needed to handle this moderate assignment. She projects to be in a good stalking position and then be able to move when called upon. ‘Etoile stretches out again and may find herself as the controlling speed. Her third place performance over this track and distance three races back charts very well with these and if not pressured early she could take this field a very long way.
RACE 6: Post: 3:40 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 6-Arrest
Forecast: Arrest lost a toughie when unable to take advantage of a perfect ground-saving trip in a similar restricted (nw-2) mid-level claimer over this course and distance last month, going down by a head after striking the front close home. He removes blinkers, retains Kent Desormeaux, and should draft into a good second flight position and then have dead aim and every chance when the pressure is turned on. Winless in seven starts over the local lawn and just 1-for-13 (with seven seconds and thirds) in his career, the Mike Puype-trained gelding is hard to trust but on paper looks very much like the winner in a moderate affair for the level. At 9/5 on the morning line, he’s the logical top pick in a race that probably should be handled with care.
RACE 7: Post: 4:11 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 2-Coffee in Bed; 1-Getthemoney
Forecast: This is a first level allowance race for 3-year-old fillies over the extended sprint distance of seven furlongs but it might as well be a graded stakes based on the talent that it attracted. Coffee in Bed didn’t display any gate speed in her debut but got in gear midway on the turn and then blew away the opposition with a highly impressive performance that resulted in a nearly two length victory. The speed figure was solid for this $500,000 yearling purchase by Curlin, who seems certain to step forward with experience and distance for trainer Bob Baffert. Getthemoney is the quicker of the two and if she returns as well as she left the daughter of Midnight Lute should be hard to catch. When last seen in September at Del Mar she toyed with maidens before being stopped on, and her recent works on the comeback trail for trainer Brian Koriner have been extraordinary. Anywho, a debut winner last fall at Aqueduct, was subsequently purchased at Keeneland in November for $290,000 and returns for new trainer John Sadler. On numbers she’ll need to step it up but her local works indicate plenty of promise and she could easily be a much better type here than she was in New York. Toss her in as a saver.
RACE 8: Post: 4:41 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 9-Precocious Times; 7-Tiergarten
Forecast: We’ll double the finale, a maiden $50,000 grass miler for older fillies and mares. Precocious Times sprints like she’ll enjoy two turns and gets her chance after finishing with interest in a grass dash earlier this meeting. She needed to shake off the rust – the daughter of Hard Spun had been off 13 months – so with that tightener under her belt the John Sadler-trained filly appears ready for a career top effort. Tiergarten, second in a pair of photo finishes in her last two starts, won’t have to improve much to finally graduate in this, her seventh career start. For whatever it’s worth, leading pilot Juan Hernandez opts for this Clifford Sise-trained mare over our top pick, who he also rode last time out. The daughter of English Channel projects to settle into a second flight stalking position and then have dead aim and every chance in the final stages.