Handicapping with Jeff Siegel
The Super Bowl eight-race Sunday program will begin with an early first post time of 11:00 a.m. There’s a very nice Pick-6 carryover of $95,169 to spice up the program.
Bottom-rung claimers meet over a mile in the opener with the main contention drawn outside. #7 Tama County won at this level two races back, was overmatched against allowance foes on turf last time out, and returns to reality today while being reunited with Gutierrez. He’s a perfect one-for-one over this main track and looks capable of producing the last run. #6 Unmatched Force is most effective when on the lead and if he can shake loose early he could get brave late. Both should be used in rolling exotic play.
The second race is a strong optional claiming sprint, with class-dropper #6 Seeking the Sherif the logical top pick. Drawn comfortably outside, the Ellis-trained gelding exits a pair of graded stakes races and should enjoy this class relief. The Officer gelding will be hard to beat with anything close to his best race. #1 Athens defeated a softer field gamely with a career top speed figure last month and looks like the main contention. We’ll prefer ‘Sherif on top but use both in rolling exotic play.
The Pick-6 begins with the third race, a one mile turf event for second-level allowance fillies and mares. #6 Hijra gets a much better post today and should draft into an ideal stalking position. Bejarano stays aboard and should have this Hollendorfer-trained mare along in time. We’ll also include on a ticket or two #7 Gender Agenda, overmatched recently in a pair of graded stakes but likely to return to form against this lesser group. She’s reunited with Talamo, who has won on her in the past.
Bottom-rung maiden claimers sprint six furlongs in the fourth race; in a rather soft affair so we’ll take a stand and single #1 Moonlight Meeting. He’s a first-time-in-a-claimer play taking blinkers off and continues to show enough in the morning to indicate he’s better than a typical $20,000 maiden claimer. The Callaghan-trained son of Malibu Moon has plenty of early zip and should stick much better against this group.
Maiden fillies and mares sprint down the Hillside course in the fifth race. #9 Curlin’s Fox is a first-time starter with a terrific series of works; the Gaines-trained filly looks plenty fit and ready for a top try first crack out of the box. She appears to completely out-class this field and if you can get anywhere near her morning line odds of 5/2 take it and run with it
The sixth race is the San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs and marks the sophomore debut of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner #4 Texas Red. The son of Afleet Alex has looked quite good in the morning and should be ready for a strong effort, even though he’s probably nowhere near cranked up for his best race. However, he’s a classy colt and a “must use” in rolling exotic play. #1 Lord Nelson won a sizzler over this track in October and seems most effective around one turn. He’s been burning up the track in the morning for Baffert and may be the one to beat, rail and all. ‘Red gets top billing but both should be used in rolling exotic play.
The seventh race is a starter’s allowance event at nine furlongs on turf. #3 Press Baron looks clearly the one to beat, though it must be noted that he’s winless in seven starts over this course. His recent form, though, is excellent, and with Bejarano riding him back for Baltas the English-bred gelding rates top billing. We’ll also include in our rolling exotics #10 Buymeabond, a nice winner in a $32,000 claimer over this course and distance earlier this season with a career top number. The Hollendorfer-trained gelding retains Nakatani and could easily be this good.
The finale is a maiden claiming six furlong sprint for sophomore fillies and seems like a bit better than par race for the level. #12 Dixie Dame will be equipped with blinkers today and is improving with racing. A strong second while more than four clear of the rest in a similar event here last month, the daughter of Dixie Chatter will be hard to beat with any kind of forward move. #2 Froggy Fresh had terrible trip when third vs. similar and with better luck today the daughter of Old Fashioned could make a serious run for it. #8 Papas Cierva has shown enough in the morning to warrant consideration as well, so we’ll toss her in at a price. Use all three in rolling exotic play while perhaps having an extra ticket or two with Dixie Dame on top.