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: 12:00 PT Grade: X
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 4-The Chosen Vron
Backups/savers: 2-Big City Lights
Forecast: The Chosen Vron was entered in both the first and 10th races today and could have won either one. His connections opted for the dirt sprint, in which he is listed as the 4/5 morning line favorite. The lightly raced son of Vronsky can pretty much handle any surface or distance, and after a sharp recent breeze it’s clear he’s on top of his game. Big City Light catches a field without much speed and it’s not inconceivable that he steals off to a clear and easy lead and proves hard to catch. We’ll toss him in on a ticket or two as a saver.
RACE 2: Post: 12:30 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 1-Victory Matters; 4-Mila’s Papa
Backups/savers: 11-Chrome to Riches
Forecast: The known element doesn’t impress so let’s go with a trio of newcomers with good workouts and win-early breeding in this six furlong turf sprint for state-bred maiden 3-year-olds. Victory Matters impressed in a fast training track drill last month while displaying good speed and a smooth, athletic way of traveling, so we’ll put him slightly on top even though the Dan Blacker barn isn’t necessarily known for success with debut runners. If he breaks running from the rail, the son of Vronsky should be on or near the lead throughout. Mila’s Papa has turned in some fast time at San Luis Rey Downs, lands noted speed jockey Edwin Maldonado, and is bred both for speed (Idiot Proof) and for grass (Good Journey). It’s an educated guess, but we suspect this Adam Kitchingman-trained gelding can run enough to act with these. Chrome to Riches, from the Carla Gaines barn, has some talent but the barn doesn’t have a history of cranking them up, so we suspect the son of California Chrome will need one. Still, he’s worth including underneath as a saver.
RACE 3: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B
Main ticket (in order of preference): 5-Bajan Bashert ; 6-Sassy Nature
Forecast: Bajan Bashert seems pretty solid in this maiden state-bred sophomore sprint after missing by a head in an excellent debut at Del Mar last month while almost four lengths clear of the rest. The Mar Glatt-trained filly gets Lasix and Flavian Pratt and should be a short price in a race in which the newcomers look average at best. Sassy Nature was well-backed (9/5) and flashed excellent early speed in the same race our top pick exits before caving in after a half mile. She’s likely better than that race shows and with Lasix sans blinkers the daughter of Straight Fire could easily carry her speed considerably farther and display considerable improvement. We’ll give her another chance.
RACE 4: Post: 1:30 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Thorn House
Forecast: Thorn House disappointed when second at 70 cents on the dollar in a similar Hillside turf sprint last fall but we’re expecting a bounce back effort today from the speedy son of Clubhouse Ride. The Dean Pederson-trained gelding earned giant numbers in his previous two starts that would easily handle this entry-level allowance state-bred field. He must prove he is as good on grass as he is on the main track but with Thorn Song on the bottom the switch in surface shouldn’t be an issue. We’ll make him a win play and rolling exotic single.
RACE 5: Post: 2:00 PT Grade: X
Main ticket (in order of preference): 6-King Zog
Backups/savers: 4-Stay in the Game
Forecast: King Zog certainly isn’t one to trust, having failed as the favorite in four of six career starts, most recently when second at 6/5 in a similar maiden claiming sprint at Del Mar in late November. He’ll be a short price again in this modest affair and may have finally found a field he can handle, though from a pure gambling standpoint there will be no wagering value to be found. Stay in the Game, third in the same race our top pick just finished second in, has form that is gradually improving, but he is a nine-race maiden and may have gotten used to losing. Best advice is to pass the race and wait for better opportunities.
RACE 6: Post: 2:30 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Alice Marble; 5-Eddie’s New Dream; 6-Taming the Tigress
Backups/savers: 1-Big Summer
Forecast: Each of the three listed on the main ticket are more than capable of winning this downhill turf stakes on their best day, and even Big Summer, rail and all, has a legitimate look. Needless to say, this year’s edition of the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint requires coverage in rolling exotic play. Alice Marble, a five-time winner and always thoroughly genuine and consistent, rates a very slight edge in her second start off a layoff. She may have been a bit short when third as the favorite in a strong overnight outing over this course and distance during the fall meeting but won’t have that excuse today. Eddie’s New Dream was overmatched in the Matriarch S.-G1 last time out but she’s back with California-bred rivals today and has always loved this course. She projects to inherit an ideal pace-stalking early position and have every chance from there. Taming the Tigress, claimed for $20,000 two races back, isn’t nearly as accomplished on resume as the top two picks but she’s highly competitive on speed figures and likely has further improvement in her. Big Summer also fits on numbers but must overcome the disadvantageous rail draw.
RACE 7: Post: 3:00 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 1-Thirsty John
Forecast: Thirsty John was a highly impressive debut winner last spring when trained by the since retired Walther Solis. He returns in the Peter Miller barn in this year’s edition of the California Cup Derby, no easy task to be sure, but the talented son of Stay Thirsty has put together a series of strong of workouts at San Luis Rey Downs that should have him fit and ready. He projects as the controlling speed from the rail under Juan Hernandez and likely has more upside than anything he’s facing today. At 4-1 on the morning line (if you can get it) he offers excellent wagering value in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. Passarando is a developing colt with a solid late kick and is the one to fear most. He’s not particularly fast on numbers but was stakes winner over this main track last fall and most recently captured the Gold Rush Stakes up north with authority. Toss him in on a ticket or two as a backup.
RACE 8: Post: 3:30 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 9-Cast Member; 8-Sell the Dream
Backups/savers: 7-Quickly Park It
Forecast: We’ll go three-deep in this year’s renewal of the California Cup Oaks but not with a high degree of confidence, so we suggest you use as many as your budget allows. Cast Member isn’t particular imposing on speed figures but she’s undefeated in three starts and won around two turns when capturing the Soviet Problem Stakes at Los Alamitos over a wet track last month. She moves to the turf today but with Artie Schiller on the bottom there’s no reason she won’t handle the sod. We’re expecting her to drop over from her outside draw, secure cover in mid-pack, and then turn it on late. Sell the Dream is the one she has to beat. Improving with racing and a solid third in the Jimmy Durante S.-G3 at Del Mar last time out, the daughter of Munnings returns to Cal-bred company today and switches to Flavian Prat. With an edge in the speed figure department, the Brian Koriner-trained filly is the 2-1 morning line favorite and deservedly so. Quickly Park It didn’t get the best of runs when off the board in the same race Sell the Dream exits but her race before last – an easy all-weather stakes score at Golden Gate Fields – puts her in the hunt.
RACE 9: Post: 4:00 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 7-Holiday Arousal; Bottle of Smoke
Backups/savers: Big Talker
Forecast: Here’s another tough affair requiring some coverage in rolling exotic play. Holiday Arousal is lightly raced with improvement in him, and after finishing a strong second in a solid sprint at Del Mar last time out the Bob Hess, Jr.-trained gelding looks ready to stretch out and regain his winning form. He’s a tad light in the speed figure department but is moving in the right direction and should be ready for a career top performance. Bottle of Smoke returns from the Bay Area with consistent recent form and numbers that make him the one to beat. A seven time winner, the veteran gelding has a good stalking style and should have every chance in a pace scenario that projects to be favorable. Big Talker won a soft restricted $20,000 claiming race at Los Alamitos last month with a strong speed figure, one that makes him a fit at this stronger level. He’ll be running on late.
RACE 10: Post: 4:30 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 8-Carmelita’s Man; 1-Aligato
Forecast: Carmelita’s Man is a four-time winner over the Santa Anita turf course, exits a stronger open stakes, and gets an extra furlong to work with in this year’s edition of the Turf Classic. With The Chosen Vron opting for the Cal Cup Sprint earlier in the program, the Dean Pederson-trained gelding deserves top billing and is clearly the one to beat based on his three previous outings (all wins) when facing state-bred foes. He is reunited with regular pilot Juan Hernandez and can be expected to produce a winning late kick. Aligato is worth including on your ticket as well. Lightly raced with superior form over the Santa Anita turf course (two wins and a second in four prior outings), the Mark Glatt-trained gelding is back with Flavian Prat (who has won on him in the past) and is guaranteed an ideal ground-saving trip from his favorable rail draw. He has speed figures that fit and plenty of room for further improvement.