Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
It’s closing day at Santa Anita with mandatory payoffs in the Pick-5, Pick-6 and Super High-5. The 10-race program beings at 1 p.m.
The opener, a starter’s allowance Hillside turf sprint, finds #5 Off the Deep End trying to duplicate his impressive debut win against a tougher field while switching surfaces. His speed figure in that early June maiden claimer was huge and if repeated will make this Miller-trained son of In Excess tough to beat right back. #11 El Tovar looked decent beating state-bred maiden special weight company over this course and distance three weeks ago and the number was solid. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics.
The second race is a weak $12,500 non-winners of two claimer for fillies and mares at a mile. #5 Incredible Journey is the 7/5 morning line favorite following a pair of runner-up efforts in similar company and based on comparative speed figures she won’t have to improve at all to beat this group. #3 Lust for Life didn’t break any stop watches in her recent seven furlong maiden claiming win but at least she’s in form and with only five prior starts probably still has a bit of improvement in her. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.
Maiden special weight state-bred fillies and mares meet over a mile on turf in the third race. #5 Cee’s Tizzy Belle has been sparingly raced – she’s five now and has only started twice – but the Jones-trained mare has more than enough ability to beat this field and she should love the stretch out in trip. She’s also working quite well at Los Alamitos and retains Blanc, who will give her the patient ride she needs. We’d love to get the 9/2 that she’s listed at on the morning line but we’ll probably have to settle for less.
A promising group of straight maidens sprint six furlongs in the fourth race; we find three main contenders so we’ll spread in rolling exotic play. #3 Kings Adventure showed good speed in his debut before weakening; we’re expecting to see a fitter and stronger colt today with that race behind him and with the addition of blinkers. Garcia takes over and was aboard the son of Grand Slam in a recent impressive workout for Mullins. #6 Conscience has trained like a good thing for Proctor and appears fit and ready for a big effort first crack out of the box. This barn is solid with debut runners, so we have to use him. #5 Alamo, a first-timer by War Front, brought $600,000 as a two-year-old in training last year and finally makes it to the post for Mandella. He’s fit and talented and will be a strong factor if he leaves with his field.
Bottom-rung maiden claiming fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in the fifth race. #8 Hanna No Sir has very little to beat and looks like a short-priced standout at even money on the morning line. Second in her last pair with better than par figures, the daughter of Pomeroy really shouldn’t miss in this easy spot as a no-value but logical rolling exotic single.
A competitive group of first-level allowance fillies and mares meet over a mile on turf in the sixth race; we’ll go three deep and hope that’s enough. #4 Winning Rhythm likes to settle and make a run and with good racing luck today seems capable of wearing down the leaders late. She continues to look sharp in the morning for Gallagher, retains Smith, and offers real value at anywhere near her morning line of 8-1. #2 Mangita is genuine and consistent and nicely drawn inside; the Headley-trained filly should be on or near the lead throughout. #7 Baruta continues to impress in the morning for Mandella and is stretching out today to what might be her preferred trip, but the Brazilian-bred mare has burned money in all three of her local outings and has hung under pressure each time. Should we give her one more chance? Okay, one more, but that’s it.
The seventh race is another bottom-rung maiden claiming sprint with little to trust. #3 Gospel Music has a few good things going for him; he’s a first-off-the-claim for Miller (20% with this angle) and switches to Nakatani, plus he has back numbers that can win so we’ll put him slightly on top. #6 Play Maker drops to the bottom and may improve; he should be running on late at this extended sprint trip. #9 Vavoom hails from a clever outfit and could be a better type this time around in his first start since August.
The San Juan Capistrano goes as the featured eighth race and looks like easy pickings for #8 Quick Casablanca. The Chilean import has two excellent recent races over this course and will run all day, so the McAnally-trained veteran figures to justify his short price as a rolling exotic single. He simply outclasses this field.
The ninth race is a starter’s allowance six furlong sprint that has Miller written all over it. Both of his starters are capable of winning; we’ll slightly prefer #9 Flight to Freedom on top as she has the benefit of a comfortable outside post and two solid races over this track. Maldonado should have her on or near the lead throughout. #5 Quay Factor will be running on strongly late and with just two career outings on her resume she may have a bit more upside than her stable mate. Both should be used in rolling exotic play.
The season finale is a 10-furlong turf starter handicap and has drawn a good field of tough, grizzled veterans. #5 Polytechnicien has never been sharper and seems set to register his third straight score for O’Neill. This distance might be challenging but in his present form the son of Royal Academy should be able to get the trip. #6 Husband’s Folly has really developed into a consistent hard-knocker for Hollendorfer and should fire another big shot. #9 Bench Light has been popular at the claim box lately, is especially fond of this turf course and will be running on late. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics and then press a bit with Polytechnicien on top.
That’s it. Have a great summer! See you in the fall.