Santa Anita News
Jeff Siegel's Prime Picks for Saturday, March 7
We’ll begin this glorious 11-race Big ‘Cap card using three horses in the 1st race in an exacta/trifecta box and the same three in our rolling exotics. #2 Captain Charisma has an improving pattern, shortens up a furlong and with another forward move should be able to outrun his 12-1 morning line odds. He’ll probably get out-footed early but might be able to produce a decent finish with waiting tactics. #3 Leavin in a Limo drops to the bottom rung for his third career start and has numbers that make him a solid threat. These should be his friends. #13 Judge Kent was nosed out in a similar spot and is wheeled back quickly by Miller. He’ll do his best running from off the pace again and might be most effective as a late-running sprinter. The 2nd race is a first level allowance affair but has a stakes-quality favorite in #3 Devoted Magic, who is listed as the 9/5 morning line choice. He was best when beaten as the 3/5 favorite in an abbreviated dash last month and gets an extra furlong to work with today. The only concern is that this field isn’t loaded with early speed and the Hollendorfer-trained gelding might have to come against the grain, but he ran well under similar conditions when second in the Palos Verdes ‘Cap earlier this meeting and that effort would be more than good enough to beat this bunch. We’ll double the 3rd race in our rolling exotics, using #1 Carnival Queen (coupled with #1a Cassablanca) and #5 Grace Anatomy. Carnival Queen was a tad disappointing when second in a similar spot as the choice in her second start off a layoff in late January but Gomez stays aboard and we expect her to bounce back with her best try. We actually prefer Grace Anatomy, who loses Gomez (but picks up Johnny V.) while removing blinkers. At this nine furlong trip in a field without much early speed, she should be comfortably placed within striking range throughout. We thought the Dec. 26th maiden race won by Point Encounter might prove to be extremely productive due to his extremely high speed figure, but it hasn’t worked out that way, Point Encounter, himself, never ran back due to injury and the also-rans have been disappointing. That makes the selection of #8 Unionize, who was second in that heat, a tad shaky, especially at 8/5 on the morning line. But the Dixie Union colt lands the comfortable outside post, has worked sharply of late for Sise and switches to Gomez in a race loaded with first timers. In this case, we’ll stick with the known element and use Unionize as a rolling exotic single. The 5th race, the Honest Lady Stakes for sprinting fillies and mares, looks like a repeat of an allowance race Feb. 1 won by #3 Foxy Danseur. Four of the nine Honest Lady entrants exit that race, and we suppose Foxy Danseur is the one to beat once again, but the race is complicated by the presence of comebacking #1 Starry Pursuit, who can run well fresh but had the misfortune of drawing the rail, and #8 Coco Belle, who was a soundly-beaten third by Foxy Danseur last time out but goes from the inside to the outside today and seems sure to improve. We’ll pass the race. The 6th race kicks off an extremely difficult Pick-6 sequence, even with one free bingo space (see Stardom Bound). The good news is that if you hit it, you could very well take home the entire pool. The bad news is that you may be contributing to tomorrow’s carryover. This downhill turf dash marks the return of #1 Hannahs Classy Boy, listed at 15-1 on the morning line. In a race without a whole lot of zip, the son of In Excess could find himself on the lead, the dreaded inside post notwithstanding. The Koriner-trained gelding earned a good number when breaking his maiden at first asking last summer at Hollywood Park but then disappeared. The works look promising and Russell Baze picks up the mount from Joe Talamo, who is riding back east today. Other major contenders include #8 Deputy Flyer, who flopped as the favorite in a similar main track event last month after impressing in his maiden debut victory in December; and #9 Scott’s Spirit, a route to sprint play who won his only turf start (two-turning) up north and should appreciate the return to the sod. What makes this race so difficult is that you could make a solid case for a half dozen others in what clearly is one of the toughest state bred entry level allowance races in memory. #1 Stardom Bound will be everybody’s rolling exotic single in the Santa Anita Oaks and there’s no reason to believe she won’t continue to crush her opponents. Surprisingly, she has nine challengers, most of whom would be thrilled to hit the board in this Grade 1 affair. The daughter of Tapit has been very sharp in the morning since her Las Virgenes Stakes win in a race in which she overcame trouble to win going away without being knocked about. She’ll have to navigate through traffic again and might provide some anxious moments along the way, but the only scenario in which she loses is if she beats herself. The other (very minor) concern is that this field doesn’t have much pace in it, and that could allow #4 Hooh Why to make a run for it. She’s proven to be an effective front-running router and if she gets loose early she could take them a long way (that is, if she runs, since she’s entered back in the China Doll Stakes tomorrow). The 8th race is a two-other-than allowance race and is another that has the look of a stakes event. The Zayat Stables entry of #1 Riley Tucker and #1a Malt Magic looks formidable, with the former stretching out after a sharp comeback sprint score and the latter also exiting a series of good sprints. Both can handle the extra ground but both are front-running types and must avoid getting into a speed duel with each another. #6 Cherokee Artist exits the Strub Stakes (he enjoyed a perfect trip and couldn’t quicken when asked) and figures to improve at this level if held up early and allowed to run late. Also worth using in your rolling exotics is #11 Sensational Score, a devout stretch runner who lands Prado and has numbers that make him a solid fit despite the fact that he’s basically a high priced claimer. #1 Ventura ran well against the boys in Canada when she was second to Rahy’s Attorney in the $1 million Woodbine Mile last summer and she beat colts in England as a 3-year-old, so the Bobby Frankel-trained mare won’t be intimidated in the Kilroe Mile. She figures to enjoy a lovely ground-saving trip and has proven to be every bit as effective up to a mile as she is around one turn. The pace figures to be very quick but that won’t hurt her. Quick early fractions will, however, promote the chances of #6 Artiste Royal, fresh from a come-from-behind score in the San Gabriel Handicap in January, and #11 Gio Ponti, who returns to turf and should be blasting home under Dominguez. All three are worth using in your rolling exotics. From a handicapping standpoint, the Big ‘Cap is a mess. I’m not even sure who’ll actually leave as the favorite. #5 Colonel John was listed as the tepid 9/2 morning line choice, but he’s a late scratch. If you’re looking for a blowout-the-tote board type of play, consider #4 Monba, #9 Dansant and #11 Court Vision in your rolling exotics and perhaps an exacta or trifecta box. Monba was a rusty third in his comeback, a highly-rated affair won by another Big ‘Cap entrant, #1 Matto Mondo. Monba was finishing well when time ran out, has come back to train in sharp style for Pletcher, and gets Prado. He seems primed for a big forward move, and at what should be around 20-1 he’s worth a gamble. Dansant represent stranger danger from England, where he developed into a high class synthetic track stayer. He was beaten just over a length by Sixties Icon on turf last summer, so he would not appear to be out classed, and this first-time Lasix user could become another one of those European shippers to run huge just off the plane over the Pro-Ride surface. He’s 20-1 on the morning line. Maybe the one they all have to beat is Court Vision (6-1), a close up third to Kip Deville in Florida last month and before that a legitimate victor of the contentious Hollywood Derby (beaten Cowboy Cal among others). He shows a string of three straight Triple-digit Beyer performances and won’t need much more to win America's most famous handicap race. The 11th race is a wide open grass grab bag and if you’re alive in the Pick-4 or Pick-6, I hope you have this affair covered. At least two you should definitely include are #7 Rathor and #9 Soupy. The latter is dropping to his lowest level ever, continues to work well for Frankel, and gets Leparoux. You have to go back to April of 2007 to find his last win, so he’s due. Soupy takes a class drop following a two month layoff and that’s not usually a good sign, but he’s been working well and has been in the frame 25 times during his career. You also may want to toss in the favorite, #4 Mt. Orient, who is reunited with Gomez and won with him aboard on this course sprinting during the Oak Tree meeting. Good luck!