- Santa Anita Park
- Late Pick 4 Guarantee $300,000 Friday, February 5
- Pick 6 Carryover $0 Friday, February 5
- Golden Gate Fields
- Golden Pick 6 Jackpot $6,595 Friday, February 5
- Super High 5 Carryover $0 Friday, February 5
Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
A terrific Saturday program begins with a starter optional claimer for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. #4 Bolitar took a suspicious drop to the maiden $30,000 level after just one start and romped; it almost seemed like Mandella was trying to give him away. The son of Harlan’s Holiday was promptly claimed by O’Neill, who protects the colt in his first race back to give indication that he’s pleased with the purchase. Prat stays aboard and a repeat effort should be good enough to win right back, the raise in class notwithstanding. #6 Frac Candy, a route-to-sprint play, is eligible for this race because he’s entered for the tag ($40,000); he has back numbers that put him in the hunt and may be the one to fear most. We doubt he has the same upside as Bolitar, but his style suggests that he’ll have every chance from a mid-pack position if a pace meltdown should occur
The second race is a below par maiden $30,000 claiming sprint for 3-year-olds; it’s an inscrutable affair and requires a spread in rolling exotic play. #3 The Silent One ran better than the line will show in his debut; the Miyadi-trained colt didn’t break well, showed good speed to move within range inside, was blocked when looming a threat into the lane and then flattened out in the final furlong. We suspect he’ll benefit from the outing and should be more competitive today, so at the price we’ll put him slightly on top. #1 Unbridled Rocket, in the money in his last four, returns off a four month layoff and even if he’s not a better type now than then, he’s a contender based strictly on speed figures. The rail post is no bargain and he’s already failed once at 4/5, but a little will go a long way in this spot. #6 Gone With It should be part of the pace throughout; he’s yet to show any real punch in the final furlong and isn’t one to trust, but, like both The Silent One and Unbridled Rocket must be considered a contender by default. This is a race loaded knocks and question marks and anything goes, so use as many as you can afford to in rolling exotic play.
Maiden 3-year-old fillies sprint down the Hillside course in the third race. The known element isn’t enticing so a decent first-timer could win it. #4 Echo Chamber breezed a furlong in 10 seconds flat in the OBS April 2-year-old in training sale and then brought $125,000. She finally makes it to the post 10 months later with a recent series of steady if not unspectacular workouts at San Luis Rey Downs for Miller while attracting top grass rider Prat, so she has to be considered a major contender. #6 Georgia Blue is another intriguing debut runner; the Drysdale-trained daughter of Exchange Rate breezed a quarter mile in 21 2/5 seconds at that same OBS sale before being sold for $180,000. She should be more than fit for a good effort first time out of the box, though this barn isn’t known for first-out winners. In in a typical grass grab bag in which nothing would surprise us, we’ll just go with these two in our rolling exotic; it’s either that or buy the race (not a bad strategy if you can afford it).
#2 I Will Score is undefeated in two starts – one in a romp and the other in a tooth-and-nail affair in which he displayed extreme grit – and is stretching out for the first time in his first try against added money competition. Can get a middle distance? He trains like he will. Drawn comfortably inside and easily projected to be the controlling speed, the son of Roman Ruler appears to be a high quality type for Hollendorfer and, as we always say, the best time to catch a sprinter stretching out is in his first time trying it. #5 Mor Spirit is a grade one winner, though subsequent results tell us the Los Alamitos Futurity wasn’t really much of a race, and both the second and third place finishers came back to perform way below expectations. Still, the Baffert-trained colt showed quality when finishing second to Airoforce in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November and before that visually very impressive breaking his maiden over the Santa Anita main track during the fall season. Though we suspect he’s not 100 percent cranked up for this particular race, the son of Eskendereya has looked just fine in recent works and is clearly the most dangerous of the closing types. We’ll put I Will Score on top – this is a more important race for him than it is for Mor Spirit – but both should be included in rolling exotic play.
Undefeated champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly winner #6 Songbird makes her 3-year-old debut in the Las Virgenes Stakes-G1 and will be odds-on to extend her streak to six. She has trained superbly for her first outing since late October and should go about her business of maintaining her ranking as the top filly in North America. This is an unplayable race – unless you believe she’s vulnerable in which case you’ll have plenty of overlays to choose from – but for us we’ll just take the free bingo space and move on in our rolling exotic play.
The sixth race is another turf scramble, this one for entry-level allowance horses over a mile on turf. We’ll try to survive using just two, but not with a great deal of confidence. #8 Tuco ran very well in his U.S. debut, finishing fourth after going toe-to-toe with subsequent stakes winner What a View until mid-stretch after pressing the pace throughout. The Irish-bred colt backs up a furlong to a mile – arguably a much better trip from him – and if he doesn’t “Euro-bounce” the O’Neill-trained gelding looks capable of winning from on the lead or just off it. Four easy half-mile breezes since that opening day effort indicates he’s doing quite well, and top turf rider Prat stays aboard. #3 Tale of Life, another ex-Euro, finished fifth in the same race Tuco exits and didn’t run badly, finishing with some interest after losing some early position and racing in traffic to the head of the lane. He was a miler in France, adds blinkers today, and has breezed twice since that race for Motion, so in his second start since October the son of Japanese-bred son of Deep Impact could easily produce a major forward move.
The seventh race is the San Antonio Stakes, the final major local prep race for the Big ‘Cap next month. We’re taking something of a flyer with #2 Donworth and backing up with #7 Imperative while taking a stand against the two Baffert entries, #1 Cat Burglar and #5 Hoppertunity, though the latter two certainly can win and it wouldn’t be any major shock if one or the other did just that. Donworth was on the verge of becoming a very good 3-year-old when he was turned out; he’s now in the O’Neill barn has trained like he’s fit and ready for a huge off the bench. A lightly-raced son Tiznow (and therefore bred to improve with age), he’s had but four prior runs, including a highly-rated 11 length romp in a listed stakes at Delaware last June. A strong, imposing colt, Donworth has good tactical speed and in a race that might be slowly run early, he should be able to achieve a good stalking spot, ready to pounce when called upon. Let’s just hope he’s good enough. #7 Imperative was somewhat victimized by a lack of pace when runner-up to California Chrome in the San Pasqual S.-G2 last month; the fact that he’s zero-for-10 lifetime over the Santa Anita main track and just 3-for-28 overall is concerning, for sure, but he’s in good hands, fast on numbers, and switching to Smith, so we’re expecting his best effort today.
The win by #8 Hay Dude over this course vs. conditioned company last month was spectacular, though admittedly it was accomplished under pristine conditions (easy pace, lone “f” trip). In today’s San Marcos Stakes-G2, the English-bred gelding must carry his speed a quarter of a mile farther and he’s certainly unproven at this 10-furlong trip. However, the longer race practically guarantees another soft pace, and we’re expecting the son of Dubawai to come right back and do it again. Two solid half mile drills since that race have kept him on edge, and hot bug boy rider Lopez returns (though in stakes races such as this he doesn’t get the apprentice allowance). We’ve noticed than when D’Amato’s horses start to get good, they stay good, and Hay Dude appears ready to stay good for a while.
This looks like a better than average maiden special weight sprint for 3-year-olds and it should take a pretty decent colt to win it. You don’t see many Turkish-bred colts running on this circuit, but #12 Seventh Sense is one and he apparently can run a bunch. The Hollendorfer-trained maiden has been burning up the track both here at Santa Anita and before that at Los Alamitos and is more than fit and ready to win at first asking for a barn that has excellent stats with debut runners. He’s certainly bred to be quick (City Zip) and should have every chance from his outside draw under speed rider Garcia. #4 Giant Expectations turned in a visually pleasing breeze at the OBS March sale last year (a furlong in 10 seconds flat) and finally makes it to the post for Eurton with a steady series of workouts, including a bullet 59 2/5 seconds move in early January. A good-moving New York-bred son of Frost Giant, he brought $135,000 at auction and seems fit and ready for a big effort first crack out of the box. #5 Mucho Chrome is the most intriguing of the known element. A troubled fourth in his debut, the Sherman-trained colt didn’t leave with his field but produced a steady run to enter contention and kept on nicely through the lane; if he breaks well today he’s certain to flash much better early speed. With Prat riding him back along with the expected improvement between his first and second start, the son of Macho Uno is a “must use” in rolling exotic play.