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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!
April 2, 2015

Santa Anita Derby week begins with an eight-race Thursday program.  #4 Prettypreciousheir looks highly logical in the opener; she makes her first start since being claimed by Sadler (super stats with this angle) and if her improving pattern continues as expected the daughter of Wildcat Heir will be hard to deny.  #6 Quality Chimes had a troubled trip in her debut vs. straight maidens and has come back to train quite well since.  There’s a distinct possibility that she’s much better than her debut indicates.

The second race is a woefully weak bottom-rung maiden claimer with little to deal with.  #6 Somethingaboutnick has the always-popular blinkers-off angle working for him and at this abbreviated five furlong sprint trip the lightly-raced gelding should be able to stick around for a long time.  We’ll make him a single by default, but this certainly isn’t a race we’re planning to get too involved in.

The Pick-6 begins with the third race, a non-winners of three $16,000 claiming sprint.  #5 Endless Cruise exits a considerably tougher race (open $25,000 claimer) and this huge drop to a restricted affair could easily make the winning difference.  The Spawr-trained gelding retains Talamo and has a considerable edge in the speed figure department.  #2 Sheer Talent, first off the claim for Mulhall, was beaten at even money without mishap at this level last month but has back numbers that make him a threat and the switch to Pedroza could help.  ‘Cruise gets top billing but both should be used in rolling exotic play.

The fourth race is a $25,000 non-winners of two claiming miler that looks fairly chaotic.  #8 Gangnam Guy likes to finish second and third (eight times) rather than win (once) but this drop into a restricted claimer might be the break he needs.  He’s exiting a pair of decent hillside turf sprints but is unproven at this trip.  If it’s not him, it could be anybody, so tread lightly here.

#8 Valley Cat drops for the money run in the fifth race and is clearly the one to beat.  Freshened since mid-February but switching to Bejarano, the veteran gelding likes to lag early and fire late, and in this league should be along in plenty of time, assuming he has one good one left.  If not, #5 Two Is to Many is the logical alternative.  Very popular at the claim box lately, he was taken back by Yakteen (always a good sign) out of his last start, is re-equipped with blinkers, and is reunited with Talamo, who won on him three races back.  If the Bandini gelding establishes the pace without undue pressure, he’ll take this group a very long way on the front end.

First level allowance older turf horses meet over 10 furlongs in the sixth race, and the first thing that jumps off the page is the utter lack of early speed.  #8 Unusual Heat stretches out again for Baltas and exits a fast, highly-rated downhill turf sprint.  He’ll either be on the lead or in a lovely pace-prompting position.  #3 Wanstead Garden is a deep closer facing the likelihood of a slow-early, fast-late race-shape, but he’s also a first time gelding and could improve a ton for Machowsky.  You have to use him.

The seventh race is a $20,000 claiming main track miler restricted to 3-year-olds.  #2 Chester B is realistically spotted today after being pitched too high vs. starter’s allowance foes last time out.  In a race in which the pace-pressers look vulnerable in the final furlong, this Sadler-trained gelding could easily produce the last run.  We’ll also include #6 Two Six Wins, a big class dropper being reunited with Pedroza, who won on him three races back.

The nightcap is a maiden special weight downhill turf sprint and looks fairly wide open.  #8 Barbary Coast was well-backed (5-1) in his debut in an off-the-turfer common to several of these but never really had much chance, breaking slowly and then taking up sharply around the furlong pole when trying to rally.  The Hess-trained colt goes to the stable’s top jockey, Desormeaux, and is likely to flash vast improvement, especially over turf.  #2 Bellamy Concerto finished a close second (beaten a nose) in the same race ‘Coast exits but had every chance and still couldn’t seal the deal.  We’ll use him but he’s beatable.  #3 War Destiny, even money in that common race Feb. 22, will get his long awaited first chance on turf (certainly bred for it) and sports an impressive bullet workout since raced.  We’ll find out what he’s made of today.


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