Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
A $116,493 Pick-6 carryover awaits players on a challenging Sunday program.
The opener is a $20,000 claiming sprint restricted to 4-year-olds and it’s a fairly competitive affair with three main contenders. #3 W. Giles is strong in the speed figure department, has won over this track in the past and looks quickest of the quick. We’ll put him on top but also use #2 Sudden Rumor, a closing second in a strong race for the level earlier this meeting, and with the proper style for this extended sprint trip, and #6 Rocked Twice, dropping two notches off a claim (not a healthy sign) but a prior winner over this conventional dirt track and getting blinkers.
The second race is maiden turf miler and looks like a stronger than par event. #2 To the Bar had a nice sprint main track prep earlier this month in his debut and seems sure to improve a ton stretching out on turf for Ellis (solid stats with second-timers). The son of Kitten’s Joy seems to have upside that the others may not have. #1 Alamo certainly is bred for turf (War Front) and with only three prior starts is another with plenty of room to improve. He lands the good rail, retains Stevens, and should be prominent throughout.
$10,000 claiming routers meet in the third race; we’ll try to survive using just two. #1 Deep Play is a prior winner over this track and returns to his proper level while switching to Pedroza and landing the good rail. In a field without much speed, he should draft into an ideal ground-saving, pace-stalking position. #6 Street Serenade, a class dropper removing blinkers, gets a big break in the weights and has a big look if he runs back to his highly-rated win three races back. He’s especially dangerous if he makes the running.
The Pick-6 begins with the fourth race, a seven furlong maiden special weight affair for 3-year-olds. Several of these exit the same race – the Jan. 3 second race won by Well Maybe – and since that was a fast, highly-rated affair, today’s winner likely will come from that group. #3 New Summit, a strong second (beaten a neck) in the aforementioned race, is the logical top pick; the son of Sky Mesa should love this extended sprint trip, retains Bejarano, and is very likely to produce another forward move. #7 The Man, a strong third in that race after pressing the hot pace, seems sure to move forward for Baffert and could very well be the controlling speed. Most second-time starters from this barn step forward considerably. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics while slightly preferring New Summit on top.
A strong entry-level allowance race for fillies and mares occupies the fifth race with the two main contenders being #6 Air of Royalty and #1 Sayes So. Air of Royalty, scratched yesterday out of a stakes race for this more logical spot, won for this rider over this course and distance during the fall meeting and should fire a similar shot today. Sayes So graduated at first asking at Del Mar and then improved to finish a sharp runner-up at this level here last month. The daughter of Congrats should continue to improve with experience and rates a big look despite the unfavorable rail draw.
The sixth race is a strong first-level allowance event over a mile on turf for 3-year-olds fillies; we’ll go three deep and hope that’s enough. #10 Prize Exhibit made a favorable impression in her U.S. debut when she closed from last to finish a willing fourth behind Lady Eli in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf over this course; she returns for Cassidy with a steady series of drills and lands Smith. The outside post shouldn’t be too much of an issue; she’s likely to drop back to last, anyway, and then cut loose late. #3 American Sun and #1 Jaded Glory finished second and fourth, respectively, in a good allowance event over this course and distance on New Year’s Day and both are eligible to move forward today. ‘Sun adds blinkers and should be on or near the lead throughout, while ‘Glory retains Stevens and figures to be doing her best work late.
The seventh race is a restricted (nw-2) claiming sprint at seven furlongs with 14 starters, so it’s a wide open requiring a bit of a spread. We’ll use three but you may choose to go even deeper. #13 Aperfectdaytofly exits a much tougher starter’s allowance event and may have found his friends today. The Warren-trained gelding has a big look off his easy win at Los Alamitos two runs back and has the proper style for this trip. He’s listed at 6-1 on the morning line and that seems about right. #5 Alpine Gathering, first off the claim for Vallejo, is a sneaky Bay Area invader with competitive numbers, and although he’s moving up in class he should fit nicely in this league. You have to use him at 12-1 on the morning line. #8 El Vaguro won a straight maiden at Los Alamitos in September, hasn’t been out since, and today shows up for $12,500, certainly not a healthy pattern. However, if he has one good one left he’ll be a dangerous, so we’ll use him.
The featured eighth race is the Clocker’s Corner Stakes, a downhill turf affair for older sprinters. #5 Sweet Swap is overdue for a win after burning money in his last pair; he’s strong on numbers, though, so we’ll give him one more chance. #6 Pure Tactics has won two of five over this course and should fire a big shot after a brief vacation; the O’Neill-trained veteran is reunited with Smith, who won on him the last time he rode him and a sharp recent work tab indicates the son of Pure Prize is right on edge. #8 Hay Dude is also worth using; the D’Amato-trained import is a route-to-sprint play with a powerful recent speed figure and retains Desormeaux. He’ll be rolling in the final furlong.
The nightcap is a bottom-rung maiden claiming extended sprint for older horses and really doesn’t have a whole lot in it. #8 Nevada Time has had but two lifetime starts so he at least has a right to improve; the Mullins-trained gelding finished a willing second in a similar event at Los Alamitos last month and retains Baze. He continues to impressa in the morning and appears to have a much higher ceiling than any of his main competitors. Let’s make him a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.