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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 24, 2015

Welcome to opening day at Santa Anita – well, sort of.  The winter/spring season officially concluded last week; today begins the 39-day spring/summer session that continues through closing day, June 28.

Race 1:

The opener doesn’t offer much wagering value; #3 My Ole Bud (6/5) and #4 Bentley’s Gone (8/5) dominate the morning line and both figure to run well in a weak maiden claiming miler.  My Ole Bud has improving speed figures in two sprint races and today stretches out to a distance that should be within his range.  Bentley’s Gone also has made progress in each of his three outings, including when second over this course and distance in his most recent start two months ago.  The recent Los Alamitos workouts look solid for Jones, so we’ll put him slightly on top while using both in our rolling exotics.

Race 2:

The second race, the beginning of the 50 cent pick-4 sequence, has identical conditions as the first race, except this one is for fillies and mares.  #1 Quality Chimes has the two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern we like, a nice inside draw, improving speed figures, and a pedigree that should allow her to handle the trip.  As you’d expect, she’s the 9/5 morning line favorite.  #6 Jackie K has made progress in each of her three starts and the daughter of Curlin is another that should enjoy her first chance around two turns.  She just finished third in the same race ‘Chimes finished second in (they were a half-length apart), and they look tough to separate again.  We’ll include both in rolling exotic play.

Race 3:

The Pick-6 begins in the third race, a contentious $50,000 claiming turf miler for older fillies and mares.  The three major contenders – #1 Kiama, #2 Spelling Again, and #3 Zambo – all are making barn switches after being claimed – and all three have a right to produce a forward move.  Kiama should be the controlling speed form her favorable rail post, and the veteran daughter of Ghostzapper retains Baze for new trainer Lewis.  She’s been a sprinter most of her career but there’s really no reason she won’t be able to handle a mile.  Spelling Again, a $40,000 Truman claim, switches to Desormeaux after finishing a solid second in a recent Hillside sprint; she’s another that’s unproven routing but has the pedigree to run on.  Zambo, taken by Belvoir out of a $32,000 winning effort over this course and distance earlier this month, has won three of her last four while earning speed figures that are good enough to win at this level.  She looks like the most dangerous of the closers and deserves top billing for those seeking to cut down on the cost of their ticket.

Race 4:

The fourth race is a restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claiming mile event for fillies and mares with only six runners.  The two that appear logical are #4 I Heart You and #5 Private Marina.  The former plummets to her lowest level ever and if she can run back to her race before last – a nice maiden $30,000 claiming win – she’ll probably beat this field.  The latter has hit the board in each of her last three starts, including a maiden claiming win at this distance in February, and deserves inclusion even though she’s noticeably slower on speed figures that her main rival.

Race 5:

A solid ground of first-level allowance fillies and mares sprint down the hill in the fifth race; we’ll go three-deep and hope that’s sufficient.  #3 Gouyen may offer a bit of value at or around her 4-1 morning line; the Glatt-trained filly has improving numbers and was nosed out in a similar spot last month in a race that already has proven to be productive.  She looks like the speed of the speed.  #1 Chaulk O Lattey defeated a state-bred maiden filed under these conditions in March and sports a healthy work tab since; the Baltas-trained daughter of Silic should draft into a comfortable second flight, ground-saving, stalking position.  #5 Desert Steel may have been a bit rusty in her comeback but won’t be today and can be expected to produce a forward move for Callaghan.  Baze rides her back and the daughter of Desert Code is a strong fit on speed figures.

Race 6:

The sixth race is another six-runner affair, this one at five and one-half furlongs for $12,500 3-year-old fillies.  There’s really nothing to trust and big ticket players may choose to buy the race.  #4 Awe Gee has won over this track in the past and she’s dropping to her lowest level ever, so she’s a main contender by default.  Pedroza should have her doing her best work late.  #1 Seek Safe Harbour has plenty of zip but not a whole lot of stick; she’ll take them as far as she can on the lead and could stick around a long time at this abbreviated trip.  Small ticket players should concentrate on these two, but if you can afford to spread by all means do so.

Race 7:

The featured seventh race, a mile turf affair for restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claimers, finds #2 Cervaro listed as the 7/5 morning line choice.  This is his first try for a tag and the class drop should help, but without any tactical speed the son of Lemon Drop Kid hardly looks like the type to command a short price.  We’ll use him but try to beat him, too.  #3 Ransom Canyon missed by head under these conditions earlier this month and really won’t have to improve much at all to win.  However, he’s one-for-22 overall and winless in seven starts over this course, so the O’Neill-trained gelding is hardly one to trust.  #4 City State stretches out again and seems worth tossing in.  His turf form is poor (nine starts, one third) but with a break in the weights and a loose-one-the-lead trip he could get very brave.

Race 8:

The finale is a bottom-rung maiden claiming sprint for fillies and mares; we’ll use three and feel fairly confident that the winner is somewhere in the group.  #1 Divine Tale is fastest on numbers and is improving with racing so she’s the logical pick and may go lower than her 3-1 morning line.  Baze stays aboard for Drysdale.  #2 Cuddle Alert broke poorly in her debut and then made up some ground late in a better-than-looked effort; if she can produce any kind of forward move (and leave with her field) she’ll have a major shot.  #4 Prettypreciousheir couldn’t hit the board at 50 cents on the dollar against a tougher field last time out  and certainly isn’t one to trust, but at this level she has a look based on her strong effort two races back.


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