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Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
The Memorial Day program begins with a $16,000 six furlong claimer that finds #6 Alpine Luck returning to his proper level and shortening to a sprint. With a recent sharp half mile drill at San Luis Rey Downs to perk him up, he should be primed for a major forward move. However, he’s winless in two years and just 2-of-20 lifetime so don’t bet the farm. #1 The Cleaners may be a tad more reliable; his record over this track in excellent and he’s the likely controlling speed from the rail. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics but otherwise not get too involved.
#7 Scandal appears ready to graduate in the second race, a nine-furlong maiden turf affair for fillies and mares. The daughter of Blame ran into a roadblock when trying to rally into the lane in a similar spot last month and it cost her the win without question; with clear sailing today she should be along in plenty of time. #3 Jaycee’s Humor seems like a logical exacta partner; the daughter of Distorted Humor lands a decent post for the first time in her career and retains Bejarano. She’s a solid fit on speed figures and likely will draft into a comfortable second flight spot. We’ll give the clear edge on top to Scandal but use both in our rolling exotics.
The Los Angeles Handicap is carded as third race and is removed from the Pick-6 sequence due to its four-runner field. The race is unplayable but a nice one to watch, with #4 Wild Dude listed as the 6/5 favorite with a pace scenario that should complement his closing kick. Both #5 Distinctiv Passion and #6 San Onofre have credentials as well, but there is no wagering value to be found unless you decide on just one. We’ll pass.
The Pick-6 begins in the fourth race, a $25,000 middle distance claimer with two major players. #6 I Don’t Care Who was nosed out against a slightly tougher group last month and drops for the money run today while removing blinkers (love that angle). He gets a major switch to Bejarano and continues to train very sharply for Baltas. There’s value here at 5/2 on the morning line if you can get it. #5 Knock Em Flat seeks his third straight score while being double jumped in class by new trainer Desormeaux, and on pure numbers he fits very well at this level. He’s most effective on the lead and looks clearly like the controlling speed; if not pressured early he should be very tough to run down.
The fifth race is a maiden main track miler that appears to be stronger than par and should take a decent colt to win it. #11 Iron Fist was a sharp runner-up in a hot race in his recent comeback and should be ready to stretch out and graduate today for Hollendorfer. He faced the likes of Lord Nelson, Om, and American Pharoah last year and doesn’t appear to have anybody quite that good to worry about in here. We’re not crazy about the 10-hole, but this son of Tapit might very well be good enough to overcome it. #6 Volume is improving with racing for Mandella and figures to produce another forward move today following a very sharp series of drills since his last race. Prat will have him within striking range throughout. #7 Rosicky is another progressive colt; he’s adding blinkers and retaining Bejarano and may be the most dangerous of the closers. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics and then press a bit with Iron Fist on top.
The sixth race is one of the strongest entry-level allowance turf sprints for fillies and mares this season. #1 Curlin’s Fox didn’t care for the main track when a distant fourth in the Santa Anita Oaks, but she’s back on the sod, back sprinting, and back where she belongs against non-winners of two types. Smith stays aboard and will have this talented filly rolling through the lane. #4 Divina Comedia impressed when finishing a strong third after a slow start in her U.S. debut and the Canani-trained import, listed stakes placed twice in France last year, should be primed for a major effort. This is a very nice filly and the trip seems ideal. #10 Entrechat flattened out going long in her last two starts against stakes company so she’s back to sprinting where she’s most effective. A repeat of her visually pleasing maiden win over this course and distance in February puts her right in the thick of it.
#7 Secret Command offers big value at 8-1 on the morning line in the seventh race, a six furlong restricted (nw-2) $25,000 sprint. Away since November, the lightly-raced Officer gelding will be trying conventional dirt for the first time and has trained like he’s appreciates the surface. He looks capable of producing the last run. For protection you should also consider #12 Public Policy, comfortably drawn outside and likely to have every chance from a pace stalking position.
The featured Gamely for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on turf is an outstanding race worthy of its Gr. 1 status. #8 Danza Cavallo won a strong allowance race at Keeneland while rallying against slow fractions and before that was an excellent runner-up in graded Stakes Company in New York. This will be her toughest test yet, but she’s progressing nicely for Brown and wouldn’t be here unless she’s ready for a major effort. The main concern is that she has a tendency to pull very hard and get rank; let’s hope she will drop her head, get some cover, and switch off. #9 Hard Not to Like, Gr. 1 stakes winner in the Clement stable, has finished first or second in nine of 18 career starts, mostly in top class company, and should draft into an ideal pace prompting position in a race that likely will be slowly run early. #4 Fanticola will be the controlling speed again; she darn near stole the Santa Barbara ‘Cap last month, getting tagged right on the wire. This is a shorter trip but the field is tougher; at 6-1 on the morning line she’s worth tossing in on a ticket or two.
The nightcap is a bottom-rung maiden claiming six furlong sprint with three contenders. #11 Classic Gent, a first time gelding and removing blinkers, gets a big break in the weights and exits a series of straight maiden events. This will be his first start since November but he’s trained nicely for new trainer O’Neill and could easily be a much better type this time around. #2 Soul Crusher is another class dropper likely to show his best against this group; he’s really a little too one-paced to be counted on but we’ll use him because he’s a solid fit on speed figures. #6 Show and Tell, beaten a neck in a similar maiden $20,000 affair last month in just his second career start, has room for further improvement and retains Bejarano, so you should include him as well.