Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
The Thursday program ushers in the penultimate week of racing for the Santa Anita fall season; it’s a better than average eighth race card with a few strong rolling exotic wagering opportunities.
There’s not much to work with in the opener; it’s a six-runner juvenile filly claimer at a mile with an odds-on morning line favorite, #1 Holiday Maker. Considered good enough to be tried in the Anoakia Stakes just 11 days ago, she’s being thrown away for $25,000 so it’s anybody’s guess as to what her current condition might be. No doubt that she’s more than good enough to win, so you can use her as a no-value rolling exotic single, try to beat her with who knows what, or simply pass the race.
The second race presents a nice wagering opportunity; #1 Daddy’s Duo is shy in the speed figure department when being compared to the logical 6/5 morning line favorite #2 Don’t Blame Me, but this undervalued daughter of Scat Daddy could easily be up to the task. A runaway winner from a modest band while never being asked for speed last month, she’s jumps from maiden claiming $30,000 to optional claiming $80,000 and we believe the class hike is within her scope. She’s bred to route, lands the good rail, and looks capable of controlling this race from start to finish under the assumption that Talamo won’t simply concede to the early lead to the favorite. If ‘Due makes the running into the first time, she may never look back and at 3-1 on the morning line represents excellent value both in the straight pool and in rolling exotics.
The Pick-6 begins with the third race, a high-primed maiden claiming miler for juvenile fillies. #4 All Star Bub ran well at about this level at Del Mar and then was pitched too high in straight maiden company, most recently in a speed-and-fade performance down the hillside course. She stretches out and tries conventional dirt for the first time, makes a major switch to Bejarano, and has the pedigree to improve considerably over a route of ground. We like her on top but for protection we’ll also toss in #5 Appealing Lady. She’s in for a tag for the first time, though her speed figures say she’s basically been a maiden claimer from the start, and she’s been a money burner in all three of her career starts. We’ll give her one more chance in her first outing with blinkers on
The fourth race is a state-bred high-priced maiden claiming sprint with lots of question marks. Best advice is to spread as deeply as you can afford to. #8 Flowinwiththebreez probably is the best of the known element, though that’s not really saying much, and he’ll remove blinkers after one failed try wearing them. He’s drawn nicely outside, has winning connections, and looks capable of producing a dangerous kick from off the pace. #2 Comin’offthebench finally makes it to the races at age five and she could easily get away with debuting at the bottom, but she doesn’t. This barn does well with first-timers so we’ll assume she has some run. #6 Lazy Lightnin has shown plenty in the a.m. to indicate she has talent, and she’s bred to be a rocket ship on both sides of her pedigree.
Juvenile maidens stretch out to nine furlongs on turf for the first time in the sixth race and #1 Miltee certainly has the pedigree and running style to enjoy the extra ground. A willing third while closing against the grain in a fast, highly-rated maiden miler over this course last month, the son of Arch seems likely to produce a major forward move at this trip and seems the solid choice, though he’s not the favorite on the morning line. That honor goes to #5 Willing to Travel, who’ll be making his second start since joining the Hollendorfer barn. The son of Pleasantly Perfectly should be at home at nine furlongs and after a nice local prep down the hill just 13 days ago figures to show his best stuff in this affair. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; our preference on top goes to Miltee.
The sixth race is another contentious affair that might require several to be safe in your rolling exotics. We’ll try to get by using just two. #7 Highly Rated drops to her lowest level ever and returns to the main track; the Belvoir-trained mare adds blinkers (she wore them once before without success) and retains Bejarano. #6 Incredible Journey was out-footed vs. similar sprinting recently but there’s no panicky class drop and the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid stretches out again today to a much more suitable distance. She also gets a break in the weights with the switch to bug boy Van Dyke and has won over this track in the past. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics while slightly preferring Incredible Journey on top.
The featured seventh race is grass marathon for fillies and mares with two main contenders. #1 Aguafria acts like she’ll run all day – she’s appears to be the ultimate one-paced grinder – and against a shallow group of first-level allowance distaffers she should be able to out stay her foes. Maybe it’s significant (or maybe not) that Nakatani jumps off her to ride #2 Scooter Bird, who has won on this course in the past and is another likely to be enjoy this marathon trip, so we’ll include her as well.
The nightcap is a bottom-rung ($8,000) sprint that looks made to order for the morning line (2-1) favorite, #3 Nextdoorneighbor, who has been claimed in each of his last four starts and today goes for Diodoro (a strong 29% with a flat-bet profit with this angle). The veteran gelding has never been all that keen on winning (3-for-32 with 14 seconds and thirds) so he’s probably not one to trust, but he should move forward in this, his second off a long layoff. #9 Golden Triumph is another that’s been quite popular at the claiming box lately; the son of Bernardini knows how to win races and plummets to the bottom for new trainer D’Amato. Drawn comfortably outside, he’s got enough tactical speed to draft into an ideal pace prompting position, and has several back numbers that would be more than good enough to win.