Jeff Siegel's Prime Picks for Thursday, Jan. 22

Tough card – one that could lead to a Pick-6 carryover. The shortest priced favorite on the morning line is #4 Tuscan Evening - she’s 8/5 in a downhill turf sprint for maiden fillies and mares - and she’s probably going to wind up being a single on many tickets. In examining the first race I was originally drawn to the class dropping #6 Dixie Union, who is trying high priced claimers for the first time. But upon closer review, I noticed that his only win since 2006 came in wire-to-wire fashion two turning at Del Mar, and he didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy in either one of his turf sprints over this course. So, maybe he’s vulnerable today. Meanwhile, #4 Hewitts got away with soft splits in the Impressive Luck Handicap earlier this meeting when third to Lucky J. H. and may encounter a bit more heat today from #5 A Cat Named Snipe. So, this could set things up for #1 Carrilero, a sharp off-the-pace winner of a downhill turf sprint during the Oak Tree meeting and exiting the tough Hollywood Express Handicap in which he earned a strong speed figure even when finishing fourth. At 3-1 on the morning line, he’s the one that may offer the most value in what amounts to a very contentious opener for a six horse field. The private clockers had reported some good works for #2 Delahoosee prior to his racing debut (he was sent off as a cold 22-1, though) and the colt, owned in part by Eddie D. himself, broke slowly and was never a factor against tougher straight maidens last month at Hollywood Park. He continues to train well and certainly deserves another strong look in today’s 2nd race, especially with this drop into the high priced maiden claiming ranks. The two other starters with prior form, #1 Yep and #4 Dapper Gene, don’t look especially attractive; the former adds blinkers and drops out of straight maiden races but hasn’t shown any speed in two career starts, while the latter received no action (47-1) in his debut and ran okay to be fourth in what was a moderate race for the level. The other first timers haven’t done much to inspire confidence, so let’s put Delahoosee on top and hope that he breaks with his field today. The 3rd kicks off the Pick-6 (no carryover today) and you won’t find a tougher race for older maiden fillies and mares at the meeting. #4 Tuscan Evening finished second, beaten a head, in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas last year and that effort makes her a complete standout against this group – theoretically. She is, however, an 11 race maiden and this will be her U.S. debut, so she may not be quite the walkover that she would appear to be. The works do indicate fitness, though, so we’ll assume she’s going to fire, and let’s not forget that trainer Dan Ward – trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s chief assistant at Santa Anita – had English import Sugar Mint ready to roll down the hill a couple of weeks ago. However, the clockers also have reported that #1 Midnight Crush has been outworking everything at Hollywood Park, and maybe she deserves some consideration even though trainer Neil Drysdale’s record with first timers is something less than impressive (0-for-23 according to the DRF). Toss in the Bobby Frankel trained #3 Solo Piano, who flipped in the paddock and had to be scratched a few weeks back but has trained sharply since, and suddenly you have a horse race. I suppose when it’s all said and done, Tuscan Evening deserves top billing, but this will be no stroll in the park. I loved the win by #6 Brought It in her comeback – she earned a big figure when beating bottom rungers in her comeback Dec. 29 – but that was her first start since March, so there’s always the possibility of a bounce. She’s also hooking a bit more speed in today 4th race, and she may be a little suspect at seven furlongs. Still, she’s 7/2 on the ML and at those odds I might be tempted to take her right back. I have no confidence in anything in today’s 5th race. #1 Real Lift looks like the right one on paper, having finished a good second against $16,000 foes last month at Hollywood Park while today this veteran of 10 winning races returns to her claim level. However, there’s no doubt she has issues, as this will be just her second start in almost three months since joining the Mullins barn. You have to use her if you’re playing rolling exotics, but nothing that happens in this heat would surprise me. We have a typical grass grab bag to deal with in today’s 6th race, and anyone of three (or more) could win it. #3 Cyprus Lady turned in a good, solid effort over the course against a similar field earlier at this meeting in what was her first start since June and her first start for Mike Mitchell. No reason she can’t run back to that race today and if so she’ll be in the thick of things throughout. #6 Schill has been a beaten choice in her last pair, but returns to the high priced claiming ranks today, switches to Gomez, and is back on her preferred surface. Look for her to bounce back. Also worth using is #7 Mini Do, a steadily improving newly-turned 4-year-old in the red hot Julio Canani barn. She broke her maiden down the hill last year and should enjoy a good pace-prompting trip today. I wish I could get a handle on the 7th race, but I simply can’t. The Pletcher barn has been kinda quiet so far this meeting and I’m not sure if #2 Rocket Legs is cranked up for his first start in 10 months. #3 Zappa returned to winning form with a gate-to-wire victory at Hollywood Park but he’ll have to work harder today to get that kind of journey, what with committed front runner #5 Our Partner also in the field. And I’m not quite sure what to do with #4 Blue Exit. He continues to train well and adds blinkers so maybe he’ll improve, but his two races in the U. S. have been less than inspiring, albeit against much tougher competition. There are lots of long shot angles in the 8th race. #1 Ashee, a third time starter in the Matlow barn, must leave cleanly from the rail but if she does she’s dangerous based on speed figures. #3 Play Reveille has worked reasonably well for Marty Jones, but she was Joe Talamo’s second call (he opts for #14 Flash Dance, a major contender). #5 Shadow Queen removes blinkers (one of my favorite angles) and drops into a claimer for the first time. However, the barn doesn’t win many. You get Sadler and Gomez with the first time starter #6 Excessive Charm but she might not be quite as good as the works might indicate. #9 Bettyboomboom has been working well of late and may be set for a forward move. And #12 Connie D., far back when green in her debut vs. straight maidens but adding blinkers, retaining Gryder, and working much better of late, could represent tote busting value at 15-1 on the morning line. Our ShowVivor Pick today is - #4 Tuscan Evening (3rd race) Good Luck!