- Santa Anita Park
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Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
Today’s opener on a special Holiday Monday is a straight maiden sprint that doesn’t really offer much in the way of wagering value. #3 Golden Atlantic flashed speed before fading late in a five furlong turf sprint in his debut but has come back to train well for Glatt and can be expected to be fitter and tougher today. #4 George Zip has the same pattern – a speed/fade debut effort on turf at Del Mar – and is another that appears to be training better since that race and should produce a forward move. #2 Power of Hope flopped badly in his route test when showing nothing at even money last time out but his debut performance – a clunking-up fifth after being far back early – actually charts okay here, especially if ‘Atlantic and ‘Zip turn out to be nothing more than cheap speed types. It’s a pass race for us, but rolling exotic players should consider using all three on their tickets.
In the second race, #2 Sugar Spice was a convincing winner at this level last month at Del Mar and was claimed by Metz, who runs her back at the same level. You would have thought he would have brought her back sooner than this, and perhaps even raised her, but he clearly doesn’t view her as a long-term project. Finishing first or second in six of eight career starts over this main track is a positive, so if she has at least one good one left she’ll be hard to beat, but at 2-1 on the morning line there’s not a whole lot of wagering value available. #8 Best in Class finished second to Sugar Spice at Del Mar and then was overmatched when a respectable fourth in a $12,500 starter’s allowance race at Los Alamitos. Drawn comfortably outside, she’ll be in a perfect pouncing spot should ‘Spice give it up late. #1 Lexie Arleen, claimed in three of her last four starts, must overcome the rail but has trained well since joining the Pederson barn and has finished first or second in half of her 22 career starts. At 6-1 on the morning line she’s worth tossing in.
The third race is another that might be best left alone, though rolling exotic players should be able to advance while going three-deep. #4 Bayonet finished first in a similar event at Del Mar but was disqualified after causing interference in the stretch. If she runs back to that race today and manages not to foul anybody she can win, but certainly isn’t one to trust. #7 Warren’s Purrfect exits the same race as Bayonet (she finished third and then was moved up to second) and as a 13-race maiden is another than shouldn’t be relied upon; however, she has hit the board in all three of her starts over the Santa Anita main track and figures to at least land in the frame again today. At 8-1 on the morning line, #6 Dancer’s Kiss may be the most intriguing of the three that we’ll be using. She has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern for Capestro, improving speed figures, and a pedigree that suggests she’ll be better going long. We’ll put her on top and hope to get the best price of three home.
The California Flag Handicap – a downhill turf event for older California-bred sprinters – is carded as the fourth race and drew a competitive group topped by #1 Ambitious Brew, a versatile and genuine late-runner with proven winning form under these conditions. First or second in five of seven career starts over this course and distance, the Jones-trained gelding is fresh from a nice win at Los Alamitos in the Johnston S. with a career-top speed figure, and has been quite sharp in the a.m. since that mid-September score. Though he doesn’t figure to get much help up front, with any sort of decent trip from the rail he should be tough to contain late. #2 Rock Me Baby, a route-to-sprint play for Dollase, switches to Maldonado (who has won on him in the past) and is another that looks dangerous from off the pace, slow pace or not. In fact, he might be most comfortable as a late-running sprinter, as his victory over five furlongs on turf in the Albany S, in June at Golden Gate Fields seems to indicate. #6 Forest Chatter, a winner of four of five career starts on the Hillside course, went a little stale during the summer and currently is mired in a three-race losing streak at relatively short odds. However, after being freshened since mid-August and training like his old self for Mandella, the gelding catches a field without much early speed, and if the pace projects as expected he could find himself very comfortable setting or stalking slow, easy splits. Under this scenario, the son of Dixie Chatter may very well be the one to beat. We’ll confine our play to rolling exotics while including all three in our ticket.
#3 Soul Flyer broke her maiden for fun at Del Mar and earned a much improved, solid speed figure, and if the Canani-trained filly builds on that effort today she’ll be tough to beat right back in today’s fifth race. Two straight bullet workouts over this main track indicate she continues to head in the right direction. #7 Q’ Viva is the most dangerous of the closers and if ‘Flyer feels the effects of increased pace pressure today this daughter of Tribal Rule will have every chance to produce the last run. Bejarano stays aboard and knows her well. We’ll give ‘Flyer a slight edge on top but use both in our rolling exotics.
The sixth race, a maiden turf sprint for juveniles, came up unusually weak, with none of the first time starters catching our eye. That leaves #1 Tiz a Billy as clearly the best of the known element and a logical single, rail and all. Used on a suicidal pace in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf, the son of Tizway understandably gave way late but before that the Koriner-trained colt was beaten just a neck to Hollywood Don in a powerful maiden affair in mid-August while earning a speed figure far above par of the level. A bullet five furlong workout at Los Alamitos a couple of weeks ago indicates he retains his edge, and this drop back to a sprint and return to the maiden ranks looks like a recipe for success. At 5/2 on the morning line he’s a straight play and rolling exotic single.
In the seventh race, #7 Juansagain continued his improving pattern with a game maiden-claiming win at Del Mar last month while earning a career top number and moves into a $25,000 nw-2 extended sprint for new trainer Baltas while looking very much like the one to beat right back. A bullet five furlong workout last week gives indication that he’s continuing to progress, so we’ll put him on top while also using #8 Heavenly Haze in our rolling exotics. The latter will be equipped with blinkers while showing up in a claimer for the first time and seems very likely to improve. He’s also being reunited with Baze, who was aboard for the gelding’s maiden win at Los Alamitos in July.
#3 Chiropractor looks very much like a Kitten’s Joy gelding with a strong future. Since arriving from the East, the Proctor-trained 3-year-old has improved a ton and should take another step forward in today’s eighth race. A smart runner-up two races back in his local bow at Del Mar, he was quite impressive in victory in his most recent outing, rallying against moderate fractions to finish full of run to be up in time while earning a legit number, one that makes him tough to contain right back despite the raise in class. We’re expecting Van Dyke to have him along in time as a straight play and rolling exotic single while hoping to get close to his morning line odds of 2-1.
Many in today’s nightcap exit the same race – the Aug. 26 affair at Del Mar won by Real Big Deal – and since we didn’t think that race was all that much, we’re going to eliminate everything coming out of it. That leaves us with three main contenders, topped by #12 Wade. Second, beaten a head, while earning a strong speed figure at Los Alamitos last month, the Eurton-trained colt switches to Bejarano and should produce another forward move after a sharp five furlong drill last week. #13 Where Was Eddie has finished third in all three starts – the last two as the favorite – so he might not be one to trust, but he’s drawn comfortably outside and should be on or near the lead throughout. #8 Zip the Monkey, a distant third in the same race Wade exits, seems certain to improve in his second career start for Jones and should also appreciate today’s extra half-furlong. You have to use him at 5-1 on the morning line.