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Jeff Siegel

'Prime Picks'

Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
Horse owner, breeder and HRTV analyst Jeff Siegel also happens to be Southern California's premier handicapper. Check his blog each day before you play!
May 23, 2015

Gold Rush Saturday opens with #3 Oil trying to make amends for his defeat at 50 cents on the dollar in a similar maiden $50,000 claimer earlier this month, and if he can avoid the type of trouble that cost him in that race the Miller-trained gelding will be tough to beat.  The son of Tribal Rule makes a major switch to Espinoza and, assuming he breaks well today, should be on or near the lead throughout.  #6 Thor’s Champion shows a couple of quick Los Alamitos workouts and may have a bit of run, so we’ll toss him in as a saver.

The second race is a competitive starter’s allowance turf miler for fillies and mares and requires a bit of a spread.  #4 True History and #7 Diamond Cut finished a neck apart in a similar event last month,  with the former switching to Baze today in her second local outing since arriving from Florida.  We’re expecting a forward move from the daughter of Yes It’s True.  ‘Cut makes a positive switch to Espinoza and should be running on late.  We’ll also include in our rolling exotics #2 Kadesha, a prior winner over this turf course and switching to Hess’ main man Desormeaux.  She’s a strong fit on figures and exits a productive race.

The Spring Fever Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares is carded as the third race; the six furlong sprint should be easy pickings for undefeated #5 Sunday Rules.  The daughter of Tribal Rule returned off a 10-month layoff to record a career top figure in beating a strong allowance field, and she’s trained exceptionally well since.  The D’Amato-trained filly looks like a free space for rolling exotic players.

Older maiden fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in the fourth race, with #3 Jean Edward the best of the known element, having finished second in five of seven career starts.  However, the daughter of Stormin Fever isn’t fast in the speed figure department and could be vulnerable to a first-timer starter, of which there are six in the field.  #4 Nite Delite has worked well for Sherman and should be a fit in this league, so we’ll definitely include her.  #8 Big Book also has shown enough in the a.m. for Yakteen to warrant a look and the daughter of M. Big gets Bejarano.  These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics.

Non-winners of two $12,500 older claimers sprint five and one-half furlongs in the fifth race.  #4 Seeking Asylum was overmatched in starter’s allowance company in his comeback for Hollendorfer but isn’t today and should improve considerably.  He’s a strong fit off last year’s numbers and sports a healthy work tab since ran.  #2 Maximinus is winless in seven starts over this main track but his recent runner-up effort at this level was solid and he switches to Prat.  #9 Preordained just broke his maiden against bottom-rungers in his ninth try and did so with a less-than-ideal trip.  He should be competitive in this league.  We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics while slightly preferring Seeking Asylum on top.

The Fran’s Valentine Stakes for fillies and mares is a one mile turf event carded as the sixth race.  #3 Go West Marie, tough at any distance and most recently third in graded stakes company down the hill, returns to state-bred company today and should outclass this field.  Stevens fits her perfectly and will likely have the Truman-trained filly along in time as a logical rolling exotic single.

The seventh race is the Melair Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies and has two main players.  #3 Sheer Pleasure won the Evening Jewel Stakes last month with a furious late kick and today gets a chance to show she’s not just a late-running sprinter.  Her one prior two-turn attempt – a fourth place effort on turf in the Cal Cup Oaks – wasn’t bad and with just four career starts the D’Amato-trained daughter of Birdonthewire likely has further improvement in her.  #2 Thermodynamics has steadily rising speed figures for Hendricks but her form says she’s better on turf than dirt.  However, she continues to train sharply on the main track, so we’ll will give her a chance to prove she can handle it.  We’ll use both in our rolling exotics.

The Snow Chief Stakes is a nine furlong turf affair for California-bred sophomores with #4 Zinvor, a sharp allowance winner over this course last month, looking like the one to beat.  All three of his career turf races have been excellent and he acts like the distance will be within his range.  #5 Grazen Sky captured a small grass takes up north recently and is back with Bejarano, who has won with him in the past.  The Miyadi-trained colt has plenty of “try,” but this distance might be stretching his limit.  We’ll double the race in or rolling exotics but then press with Zinvor on top.

Older Calbreds meet at a mile on the main track in the ninth race, the Tiznow Stakes, with the main contention drawn on the far outside.  #9 Motown Men, a strong third in the Gr. 3 Precisionist Stakes earlier this month, should find these state-bred rivals somewhat easier and rates top billing with his pace-pressing or stalking style.  A bullet six furlong drill for West since his last start indicates he remains on edge.  #4 Magic Mark continues to look sharp in the morning and he, too, is exiting the Precisionist (he wound up fifth).  This is a much better spot for him.  #10 Joy Boy, a Midwest shipper coming off a muddy track score at Fonner Park, is a veteran gelding with a winning spirit (11 victories in 36 starts) and in his younger days showed a liking for the Santa Anita main track.  He’s most effective on the lead and may have a difficult time securing that type of trip from the 10-hole, but still deserves consideration.  We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics and then have extra tickets with Motown Men on top

The nightcap is a maiden special weight turf miler that offers a legitimate chance at a price.  #3 The Last Express has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch-out pattern for Baltas (excellent stats with this angle) and the son of In Excess remains protected despite being a four-year-old with a pair of non-competitive sprint performances to begin his career.  Worth noting is that he was fairly well-backed in both starts and each time kept on through the lane while appearing to want more ground.  He switches to Desormeaux, draws a comfortable inside post, and catches what appears to be a below par field of Calbreds.  Let’s roll the dice and make him a straight play and rolling exotic single at hope to get close to his 15-1 morning line.



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