Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
A strong Saturday program – there are three graded stakes races on the agenda – begins modestly with an $8,000 claiming sprint for fillies and mares. #7 It’s Aine lands the cozy outside post in her first-off-the-claim for Palma, and although she was disappointing against a slightly tougher group earlier this month she appears capable of bouncing back at this level. #4 Nothing to Hide, an $8,000 Knapp claim last month, has won over this track in the past and may be the most dangerous of the closing types.
The second race is a maiden claiming miler for 3-year-olds and doesn’t have a whole lot in it. #1 Townminister stretches out for the first time and from the good inside post may try gate-to-wire tactics under Van Dyke. This barn has good stats with the stretch-out angle, so we’ll put this Speightstown gelding on top and hope to close to his morning line odds of 8-1. #4 Alston is improving with racing and is the logical top pick. The son of Colonel John exits a productive race and will be hard to contain in the final furlong.
Straight maiden 3-year-olds sprint five and one-half furlongs in the third race, with the Sadler first-timer #3 Yiannis likely to get plenty of play based on several sharp recent workouts. The son of Midshipman brought $560,000 at the Ocala March sale last year, where he previewed very impressively smoking a furlong in 9 4/5 seconds. We’ll put him on top but also include in rolling exotic play #4 Gimme Da Lute, a first-timer from the Baffert barn with a typical fast series of drills, and #5 Milhaud, a Mandella first-timer that has also looked quite good in the a.m.
The Pick-6 begins with the fourth race, a wide-open $16,000 claiming sprint for fillies and mares. We’ll use only two but you may feel the need to spread. #4 Bow Tie Belle handled a restricted $12,500 field with ease recently and looks capable of handling the raise for her new connections. Bejarano stays aboard and should have her settle early and blast home late. #8 Midnight Lady is solid in the speed figure department and should be tough if Bow Tie Belle fails to fire for whatever reason.
The fifth race is a downhill turf slalom for entry-level fillies and mares; we’ll use two but not with a great deal of conviction. #12 Our Little Hen hasn’t won on this course in four prior starts but she’s run well enough to expect another good effort (she’s hit the board three times) and from her outside draw the Sherman-trained mare should draft into an ideal pace prompting position. She’s a strong fit on figures and has finished first or second in 14 of 19 career starts. #10 Margot Machance has been a bit of a money burner lately but she can produce a dangerous late kick on occasion and switches to underrated (an extremely talented) French jockey Prat.
The Palos Verdes Stakes is the first of three graded events on the program and goes as the sixth race. #1 Distinctiv Passion is incredibly fast and managed to hang on to win the Midnight Lute earlier this month. Today he shortens up a half-furlong and if he leaves cleanly from the rail he should be hard to catch once again. #5 Wild Dude, away since April but training like he’s fit and ready for Hollendorfer, will be the most dangerous of the closers. He won this race last year with a career stop speed figure.
The Arcadia Stakes over a mile on turf is next on the agenda and may come down to a rematch between #4 Kaigun and #8 Za Approval, one-two finishers in the Seabiscuit H. at Del Mar last fall. Kaigun makes his first start since that race for Casse but has trained like he’s fully cranked up, while Za Approval most recently was fourth with a wide trip in the Ft. Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park in mid-January. Both are capable of winning with anything close to their best efforts.
#1 Glory was super impressive breaking her maiden in just her second start recently and did so with a giant number in a manner that suggest she can step right up and win again against Grade-1 competition. From the rail she appears very much like the controlling speed in the La Virgenes and if she can project her sprint form at this mile trip – and we very much think she can – the daughter of Tapit will do just that. The switch to Smith doesn’t hurt, either. Let’s make her a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.
The finale is a maiden turf miler for 3-year-olds and appears to be an excellent spot for #7 Rockin Robin. Theson of Rock Hard Tenhas an improving pattern, switches to Stevens and shortens up a furlong. The Glatt-trained colt should be on or near the lead throughout and in a below par field looks ready to ready to graduate as a straight play and rolling exotic single.