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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 18, 2015

The Saturday program is especially challenging but there are a number of attractive rolling exotic possibilities that deserve close attention.

In the opener, #6 Dress Code and #4 Relentless Heat seem like the logical contenders, though neither will offer much of a price.  Dress Code is an old timer racing in good form for Carava and ran well for this low profile rider when narrowly missing vs. slightly tougher last month in a highly-rated race.  He should fold over into a good pace-stalking position.  Relentless Heat is much slower on speed figures and is winless in seven starts over this main track, but he’ll be forwardly placed and may be a good exacta partner with ‘Code.  This is a “nothing special” race and we’d advise to tread lightly.

#7 Courageous Call just won a similar first-level allowance optional claimer last month but is eligible to come right back because in today’s second race she’s entered for the $40,000 tag.  Drawn comfortably outside while retaining Baze, the Ellis-trained mare should enjoy a nice pace-prompting journey.  #6 Pica, fourth behind Courageous Call in that common race March 21, adds blinkers for the first time and is re-united with Espinoza.  First or second in six of 10 career starts, the Miller-trained mare is worth including in rolling exotic play.

The third race is a $16,000 claimer for fillies and mares at six furlongs.  #4 Moscato Girl earned a sharp speed figure when beating an nw-3 field at this price last month and should be tough right back despite the move to open company.  The Spawr-trained filly loves this main track and will be on or near the lead throughout.  #8 J and S Express won a race-shape aided $12,500 affair last month and will need to improve to repeat, but she’ll be running on late and should at least get a piece of it.  #7 Peppy Bolly, second in her last pair, is another that figures to be doing some good work in the final furlong and is worth tossing in on a ticket or two.  However, Moscato Girl is clearly the top pick.

#2 Papacoolpapacool seeks his third straight win in the fourth race, the La Puente Stakes for three year olds over nine furlongs on turf.  Despite picking up four pounds the D’Amato-trained gelding seems the solid choice; he’s perfect in three outings over the local lawn and has an excellent stalking style that should keep him clear of trouble.  The son of Temple City is 9/5 on the morning line and may go lower.  #1 Anytime Anyplace, runner-up to our top selections when they met on March 21, could be the controlling speed and with the break in the weights is the one to fear most.  Both should be included in rolling exotic play.

We’ll double the fifth race, a $25,000 claiming sprint for 3-year-olds.  #3 Believe Too missed at 6/5 in a similar spot last month and was vanned off, but he’s come back to work very sharply (:59 3/5 nine days ago) so we’ll assume there’s no issue.  He exits a live race and his best should be good enough.  #7 Domingo Cat is improving with racing and just broke his maiden gamely; this is a logical spot for the O’Neill-trained gelding and with another forward move will be a factor throughout.

The sixth race is a maiden special weight extended sprint with lots of price possibilities.  #7 Southern Loyalty was well-beaten in his only start at Evangeline Downs last June so you have to wonder what he is doing here and why is he being protected by Desormeaux.  Well, he’s worked like a good thing for his comeback and clearly is much better than his only race shows, and at 6-1 on the morning line he’s a “must use” in rolling exotic play.  #3 War Destiny adds blinkers for the first time and his only prior start on dirt was excellent and earned a giant figure.  If he runs back to that race he’ll be very hard to deny.  #9 Alamo is a first-time gelding for Mandella with two very good efforts over conventional dirt and after a bit of freshening the son of War Front could produce a major forward move.  These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics but if you can afford to go a bit deeper by all means do so.

The Gr. 3 Santa Barbara Handicap at 10 furlongs on turf for fillies and mares is today’s feature race and is carded as the seventh on the program.  In a field without any real pace, #3 Fanticola has a chance to steal it, though this trip certainly will test her stamina.  Genuine and consistent and continuing to look sharp in the a.m. for D’Amato, the daughter of Silent Name is back with her favorite pilot, Talamo, and will take this field a very long way.  #1 Three Hearts is the logical favorite and should enjoy an ideal, ground-saving, pace-stalking trip.  These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotic play.

The eighth race is a $12,500 restricted (nw-2) claiming sprint for fillies and mares at the abbreviated sprint distance of five and one-half furlongs.  This race could be won by just about anybody, so spread deeply if you can afford to.  #3 Secret Appeal just finished a good second in a restricted $25,000 affair six days ago but is suspiciously dropped by Periban and goes to a low percentage seven-pound bug.  Looks like she’s being dangled and at 2-1 on the morning line there’s certainly not a lot of value here.  That said, if she has one good one left she’ll probably win.  #1 Lady Now, second off a layoff for Grayson, switches to Prat and has won over this track in the past, so if she can avoid trouble from the rail she’ll be right there.  #6 Grey Girl Gone is a blinkers-off play and legit class dropper for the high percentage D’Amato barn.  She’s a “must use” with Baze riding her back.

The nightcap is a high-priced maiden claiming miler and looks on paper to be a grass grab bag.  #10 Passinaflash, third in his last pair, drops a notch and switches to Prat, and a repeat of his last race could be good enough.  He’ll be running on strongly late.  #2 Dually Affirmed is an intriguing Fair Grounds invader with numbers that put him in the thick of things despite the class hike.  He sports a healthy San Luis Rey Downs work tab and lands a nice inside post.  #5 Blue Harbor makes his first start as a gelding and is re-quipped with blinkers; he’s also dropping into a claimer for the first time and retains Desormeaux.  You have to use him at 8-1 on the morning line.


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