Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
There’s an early first post today at 12 Noon for an excellent 10-race Saturday program that features five stakes races,
In the opener, #5 Rhett’s Image looks like the best of the first-timers and appears fit and ready for Machowsky. His work tab is impressive and the son of Southern Image should be very live on the tote. We’ll use him along with #6 Signature Cat and #7 Grazen Sky and go three-deep in our rolling exotics. ‘Cat has been burning up the track for his local debut at Los Alamitos and if repeats his debut – his second place finish to unbeaten Blofeld (with El Kabeir behind him) the son of Discreet Cat will beat this field. He’ll wear blinkers for the first time today. ‘Sky has an improving pattern for Miyadi and should be doing his best work late; if there’s a pace meltdown he’ll likely be the beneficiary.
Older state-bred maidens sprint six furlongs in the second race, with two newcomers expected to receive the bulk of the play. #5 Trash Talkin has looked the part in the morning for Puype and should come out firing under Baze, who jumps off a likely contender #1 Prohibition Repeal to take the call. #4 Alfiero hails from the Ellis barn, which rarely wins with a debut runner, but this colt has trained like a rocket ship in the morning, and that 58 2/5 seconds gate drill (in company with San Onofre, see today’s eighth race) earlier this month stands out. We’re expecting the winner to be one of these two, with a slight edge going to ‘Talkin.
A strong first-level downhill turf sprint occupies the third race, with recent maiden winner #5 Forest Chatter the likely favorite and one to beat. The son of Dixie Chatter earned a huge figure beating maidens over this course and distance earlier this month and the gelding really won’t have to improve much to score right back. #1 Hot Market is a progressive Bay Area invader with a grass pedigree; he’s making his first start on turf, so a major forward move is possible. The son of Singletary has solid form over the all-weather at Golden Gate Fields and has worked extremely well since ran. We’re expecting another step forward today and at 8-1 on the morning line he’s a “must use” under Bejarano.
Maiden state-bred sophomores sprint six furlongs in the fourth race, a completely wide open affair full of question marks. The known element doesn’t impress, so a fresh face can win it, but which one? Let’s try #9 The Grumbler, listed at 10-1 on the morning line. Though the work tab doesn’t include any fancy times, the son of Papa Clem actually has done plenty of good work both at Los Alamitos and Santa Anita and he lands the cozy outside post for a clever outfit. There’s some good longshot value here so let’s try to capitalize in the straight pool and also make him a rolling exotic single.
The California Cup Oaks launches the Pick-6 sequence in the fifth race; it’s a stronger than par affair that has several possibilities. #6 Light One is a granddaughter of Red Ransom and is therefore likely to enjoy turf; the daughter of Comic Strip was quite impressive breaking her maiden sprinting from off the pace up north and shows a bullet six furlong workout since that race. She acts like she’ll really appreciate the extra distance as well. #5 Sheer Pleasure looked super breaking her maiden at first asking at Los Alamitos and earned a nice number in doing so; the D’Amato-trained daughter of Birdonthewire should be able to get the trip and figures to be on or near the lead throughout. Hollendorfer’s “other” entrant, #4 Heat the Rocks is the actual 2-1 morning line favorite; she’s okay (but not great) in the speed figure department but she’s a daughter of Unusual Heat trying turf for the first time, so considerable improvement is possible. We’ll prefer Light One on top while using all three in our rolling exotics.
The California Cup Derby goes as the sixth on the program with undefeated #2 Acceptance the likely choice and one to beat. Perfect in three starts including the King Glorious over a distance of ground at Los Alamitos last month, the son of Vronsky has to pack 124 lbs. while giving seven pounds away to the rest of the field, but he’s legitimately fast and will be hard to deny. #1 Tough Sunday earned a big figure breaking his maiden recently and seems sure to enjoy two-turns; he’s been battling a bruised foot lately but looked good in a recent workout so we’ll double the race in rolling exotic play if he stays in the field.
The seventh race is the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint and looks like a typical downhill grass grab bag that requires a spread. We’ll go three-deep but you should use as many as you can afford to. #6 Heavens Stairway is a course specialist (four wins in five starts) and is fresh from a sharp win on New Year’s Day against a slightly lesser group. She has plenty of speed but can take heat if she has to, and the daughter of Decarchy should be on or near the lead throughout. There’s some value here at 6-1 on the morning line. #7 Go West Marie looked very good beating a softer field over a mile recently while receiving the patient ride she needs. Stevens stays aboard and will have her rolling in the final furlong. #4 Velvet Mesquite exits the best race and this drop from graded stakes company into a state-bred event could make a winning difference for the genuine daughter of In Excess. Smith stays aboard and knows her well.
The California Cup Sprint is the eighth race on the program, and with the scratching of the logical favorite #1 Big Macher the race looks within range of the comebacking #2 San Onofre. A winner of four start but away from the races for almost a year, the Karen Headley-trained gelding has worked like he’s retained all of his speed and has shown in the past the ability to fire fresh. #3 Rousing Sermon may be most comfortable around one turn and he’s also had good success over the Santa Anita main track in the past. The veteran son of Lucky Pulpit should draft into a good stalking position and is the one to fear most. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics.
The ninth race is the California Cup Turf Classic and is another wide-open affair with several legitimate contenders. #3 Alert Bay may be as good as any, having just won the Mathis Brothers Mile here on opening day. This nine-furlong distance is within his range, so Baze should have him within striking range throughout. #5 Big Bane Theory was in a tad too tough in the Gr. 2 San Gabriel Stakes earlier this month but the son of Artie Schiller should enjoy this class relief to state-bred company and with four wins from seven career starts he clearly prefers this turf course. #7 Awesome Return always is dangerous from off the pace and if a decent pace materializes he’ll be major factor late under Desormeaux. These are the three we’ll be using but if you can afford toss in a few more, by all means do so.
The finale is a maiden claiming extended sprint for 3-year-old fillies; it’s an inscrutable affair that big players might simply decide to “buy.” It’s either that or take a stand and single #1 Erte. The daughter of Street Boss exits a pair of considerably tougher maiden special weight races and today tries conventional dirt for the first time while turning back in trip. We’re expecting her to be the controlling speed if she leaves cleanly from the rail. She’s 4-1 on the morning line, which in this lackluster group seems about right.