- Santa Anita Park
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Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
An excellent Saturday program offers 10 races including a pair of challenging stakes for juveniles on turf. First post time is the usual 1:00 p.m.
In the opener, #3 Send Me a Sign is a progressive daughter of Include getting her first chance over a distance of ground and the Ellis-trained maiden should make the most of the opportunity. A distant second behind a stablemate in a fast, highly-rated sprint at Del Mar last month, she continues to impress in the morning, retains Smith, and catches a below par field for the level. However, at 9/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower, she doesn’t really offer much in the way of value. You may want to save on a ticket or two with #6 My Rose, a first-timer from the D’Amato barn with a nice series of drills to indicate she’s fit and ready for a strong effort first crack out of the box. The daughter of More Than Ready lands Bejarano and may be better than her 6-1 morning line gives her credit for.
#10 Illuminant is overdue for a win and ran well enough when nosed out in a two-turn turf miler at Del Mar to deserve top billing in the second race, a downhill turf sprint for maiden fillies and mares. She ran well over this course and distance when second with a career top speed figure in June and with Bejarano riding her back the daughter of Quality Road seems the solid choice. #11 Audra tries turf for the first time and if her improving pattern continues, the D’Amato-trained filly could be a strong pace factor. She’s worth some consideration at 9/2 on the morning. #3 Luminary, away since last November, makes just her second career start and could easily be a better type this time around. She’s trained well for Mandella and the daughter of Smart Strikes offers some price value at 12-1 on the morning. Toss her in on a ticket or two in your rolling exotics and in your exactas and trifectas as well.
The third race is an inscrutable bottom-rung maiden claimer. #5 Three Red Sevens makes his first start since joining the Brocklebank barn, and while the 15-race maiden certainly isn’t one to trust, he’s a top pick by default simply because there is nothing else in here worthy of consideration. It’s either him, or anybody, so perhaps the best strategy is to buy the race and hope for a price. Or sit it out.
#2 Pleasant as Pie was visually very impressive winning her debut with a huge figure and has trained quite well since for Ellis, so the daughter of Pleasant Tap figures to be a lot shorter price in today’s fourth race than the 33-1 she was last month at Del Mar. She’s not quick early but can really turn it on late and thus this extended sprint distance appears perfect for her style. When last seen in February #1 Radiant Journey had steadily improving speed figures after breaking her maiden in good style and if she returns as well as she left – or perhaps better – she may give the favorite a run for it. The daughter of Good Journey was provided a solid foundation of workouts at San Luis Rey Downs before a sharp five furlong drill here last week and could fire a big shot fresh for D’Amato. Pleasant as Pie will be tough to beat but both should be included in rolling exotic play.
The fifth race, the Zuma Beach Stakes for juveniles over a mile on turf came up rather light in quality (as opposed to the race’s filly equivalent, the Surfer Girl, later in the program, which is loaded). #9 Dressed in Hermes is a maiden but certainly isn’t out of his element and actually exits a very strong race won by Hollywood Don, who subsequently won a stakes and then placed in a Grade 1. Third, beaten just over a length behind ‘Don, the gelded son of Hat Trick should continue to improve with experience and recent strong workouts indicate he’s headed in the right direction for Armstong. He switches to Stevens, removes blinkers, and appears the one to beat. #7 I’malreadythere is adding blinkers after finishing a respectable third behind Hollywood Don in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf; the Hollendorfer-trained gelding switches to Smith and with only slight improvement figures strongly in the hunt. We’ll also toss in recent long shot maiden winner #10 Lucky Bryan; he’s proven over the course and was purchased privately by Hronis Racing LLC following his victory here last month.
In the sixth race, #2 Family Code is improving with each outing and earned a career top number when an excellent second (more than seven clear of the rest) in a similar starter’s allowance sprint at Del Mar last time out. He switches to Baze and seems highly logical, though at 2-1 on the morning line and likely to go lower the son of Desert Code probably won’t offer much in the way of value. #6 Carlos Dangerous was second to ‘Code in a high-priced maiden claimer in July and then graduated in state-bred maiden special weight company; he was off slowly and overmatched in the subsequent I’m Smokin’ Stakes but should fit much better with these and probably is worth a ticket or two as a saver in rolling exotic play.
We’re going four-deep in our rolling exotics in the seventh race, the Surfer Girl Stakes, a strong, highly-contentious turf miler for juvenile fillies. #2 Stays in Vegas is bred to improve a ton on grass (City Zip) and in fact worked quite well over this turf course last month for Hollendorfer. She’s drawn comfortably inside in her first try around two-turns and considering the strength of the race her fifth place effort in the Del Mar Debutante-G1 behind Songbird wasn’t bad at all. #3 Mirage is a talented English invader in the Callaghan barn; she won her only start with plenty left like a quality filly, is bred to run on, and has been quite impressive in the a.m. since being imported. #7 Lucky Folie won her debut like a good thing for Mandella and is another that has been extra sharp in the morning since her victory. She acts like the added distance will be agreeable and there’s no reason she won’t be effective on turf. #10 One Last Shot must overcome an outside draw but the Baffert-trained filly was an excellent second to perfect-tripper #5 Jakaby Jade (yet another contender in today’s race) in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar and should continue to progress with experience.
The eighth race is a strong maiden sprint for two-year-olds. #6 Dr. Dorr has done everything right in the morning for Baffert and acts like a very good prospect. The son of Lookin at Lucky appears cranked up and ready to go and if he breaks with his field and enjoys a good trip he should be hard to handle. Baffert has two in here and the other one can run as well. #4 Let’s Meet in Rio is a Juddmonte Farm homebred with a series of smart workouts and should be up to a strong effort at what most likely will be a better price (he’s 8-1 on the morning line). Use him on a ticket or two, at least. #11 Miner’s Light ran way above expectations when nosed out at 23-1 by subsequent Saratoga stakes winner Exaggerator at Del Mar; the Mineshaft gelding missed about a month of training after that effort but his recent works indicate he fit for Gaines and is clearly the best of the known element. Smith stays aboard and will have him doing his best work late.
Since being gelded #5 Brimstoned has turned into King Kong and the son of Unusual Heat, after two runaway, highly-rated wins at Del Mar, seems well-spotted for another huge effort in the ninth race, a state-bred entry-level middle distance main track event. Blanc should have him on or near the lead throughout at what should be at a price shorter than his 9/5 morning line odds. #8 Tribal Again remains protected by Miller and may be the most dangerous of the closing types. With just three wins and 13 seconds and thirds the Tribal Rule gelding seems much more likely to complete the exacta or trifecta than win, but if Brimstoned fails to fire for whatever reason he could clunk up and pull off an upset.
In the finale, #10 Turnover is being thrown away by Baffert – the Big Brown gelding just finished a strong second to subsequent Eddie D. Stakes winner No Silent and today shows up for a tag for the first time – but if he has one good one left he should be able to win at this level. He has the proper style for the course and a bullet three furlong blowout just five days ago. Since his pattern makes him untrustworthy we’ll also include in our rolling exotics the course-record holder #9 Eddie’s First and the blinkers-off play #6 Giant Ego. The former, making just his second start since being claimed by Miller, could fire a big shot after a brief freshening while the latter has run well over this course in the past and will have every chance while either on the lead or from a stalking position.