Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
The 10-race Thursday program has a few excellent rolling exotic opportunities; let’s see if we can build our bankroll heading into the two-day Breeders’ Cup festival on Friday and Saturday.
#2 Expo and Fig is questionable around two turns but he’ll take the first race field as far he can on the front end and with continued improvement could prove to be an elusive target. The D’Amato-trained gelding was visually impressive destroying a weak maiden claiming sprint field last month and in a race lacking in effective closers could get the trip. #3 Rusty Road drops into a claimer for the first time and continues to look good in the morning. A repeat of his highly-rated win at Los Alamitos two runs back will make him a tough customer in this league.
The second race is a $12,500 claiming sprint that brings back #7 Newfound Gold, a big figure facile victor vs. $10,000 foes 18 days ago. A real pro with a winning spirit and a particular affection for the Santa Anita main track, the Miller-trained gelding lands the cozy outside post and probably will go lower than his morning line odds of 2-1. #4 Xuang Feng, first off the claim for West, tries ‘ Gold again after chasing him home as the choice in that aforementioned race and could improve enough to pose the most serious threat. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics while clearly preferring ‘Gold on top.
The third race is a starter’s allowance sprint with #3 Kings Adventure the controlling speed and the one to catch. He went too fast for his own good (:20 4/5, :42 3/5) and paid for it late when worn down in the closing stages of a similar affair earlier this month but if he can slow down just a bit today he should be able to roll all the way to wire. If not, #7 Espirito Bueno could be the one to produce a winning late kick and is a “must use” at 12-1 on the morning line. The son of Awesome Spirit is lightly raced with room to improve. We’ll also use #2 Athens, a sharp recent maiden claiming winner with good recent works.
The fourth race is a bottom-rung maiden claiming miler on the main track. #8 Awesome Time has improving form for Mullins and with another forward move should be set to graduate. He has the coveted “two-sprints-and-a-stretch out angle, retains Baze, and a pedigree that okays two turns. #6 Cotton Valley, a beaten choice at Los Alamitos when second six weeks ago, has room for improvement and competitive speed figures for this level, so we’ll include the Puype-trained gelding in our rolling exotics. The High Cotton gelding will be doing his best work late.
The Pick-6 begins in the fifth race, a bottom-rung claimer for fillies and mares at five and one-half furlongs. #11 Rossi Reserve is the logical pick assuming she has one good one left, but that might be big assumption. A dominating six length winner for $12,500 in April and claimed by Spawr, she finally makes it back to the races six months later and drops in for $8,000. The veteran mares has won 12 races during her career and will give it everything she has. #10 Miss American Pie ran well at this level two races back, was in a bit steep when moved up two notches in her most recent outing, and should snap back today for a low profile trainer-jockey team. She’s another with well documented problems but always tries hard and has won over this track in the past. These are the two we’ll use in our rolling exotics, but the best advice is to tread lightly.
A promising group of juvenile fillies sprint down the hill in the sixth race with a number of good-working first time starters making this something of a guessing game. #8 Jaded Glory, a daughter of Smart Strike, breezed a furlong in 10 flat at the Keeneland April preview session and then brought $180,000 at auction. He recent works are solid if not spectacular and she should be plenty fit for a good effort for a barn that does okay with debut runners. #6 Scattergirl has shown some ability in the a.m. for Powell and looks fit for a good effort. #7 Omorfi Kopella is also worth including; the daughter of Scat Daddy has shown enough in the a.m. for Sadler to be considered a contender. We’ll try to get by using just these three but feel free to spread even deeper if you can afford to.
Restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claimers sprint six furlongs in the seventh race, another difficult affair that requires a spread. #2 Pressure Time, second off the claim for Hess, has the proper style for this seven furlong trip and looks capable of producing the last run with anything close to his best race. A closing third vs. similar from the rail over this track earlier this month, he should run at least as well and probably better today. #6 Znelle, first off the claim for Chew, should be prominent throughout and is reunited with Pedroza, who won on him two races back. We’ll expect this gelding to be on or near the lead throughout. #1 Mahalo Arturo is lightly raced and improving; the Square Eddie colt earned a big figure at Los Alamitos when winning via disqualification last month and a similar try today puts him right there.
The featured eighth race is the Big Bear Stakes at a mile on the main track and has a number of possibilities. #8 Regally Ready, a former Breeders’ Cup Turf sprint winner, has shown he can handle two turns and the main track as well and is seeking his fifth win from his last six starts for Asmussen. He’s lost a little bit of his early zip but still has plenty of class and should fire another big shot today. #7 Blue Tone is also quite sharp while seeking his third straight score; the Hess-trained gelding won the Brubaker Stakes at this distance at Del Mar and has trained extremely well since. With rising figures and good tactical speed, the son of Birdstone should be prominent throughout and have every chance. #4 Blueskiesnrainbows, away since March, returns for Hollendorfer in what could be a prep, however, the son of English Channel has plenty of back class and is especially tough over the Santa Anita main track. A mile might be a tad sharp for him, but we’ll still include him in our rolling exotics nonetheless.
The ninth race is a downhill turf sprint for conditioned allowance fillies and mares. #7 Heat Trap missed by a half-length in the Cal Distaff Handicap over this course and distance earlier this month and a similar performance today should be more than good enough to win. She’s back with Espinoza, who has won with her three times in the past and she shows a nice easy half mile breeze since raced to keep her on edge. #8 Tribal Spy loves to win races (6-for-18) and three of those scores have come over this course. Fifth in the same race ‘Trap exits, the Kitchingman-trained daughter of Tribal Rule retains Talamo and probably has some improvement in her. Stranger danger comes in the form of #10 Come To Heel, a lightly-raced stakes-winning filly in Ireland last year. Now in the Ward barn and arriving fit and ready from Keeneland where she was getting geared up, the daughter of Elandin lands the good outside post and looks very live despite the 13 month layoff.
The finale is a maiden claiming sprint for state-bred juvenile fillies; we’ll use two and hope to survive. #12 Kat’s Hurricane, a promising third in her debut at Del Mar, moves up from $30,000 to $50,000 in a sign of confidence from Powell and switches to Bejarano. She looks ready to graduate and is a fit on figures. First time starter #11 Exfanofsixties, from the Avila stable, has worked well enough to be included, though this barn has a poor record with first time starters.