Jeff Siegel's Analysis for Friday, Jan. 1, 2010

Santa Anita ushers in the New Year with a strong 10-race program offering plenty of attractive wagering opportunities. The popular handicapping contest Showvivor begins today and #6 In The Slips will be the selection of the great majority of contestants. She'll also be the shortest price favorite on the day, and the program’s surest winner.

The opener seems like a good spot for #4 Afleet Magic, who returned off a layoff to finish a sharp second in a similar bottom rung maiden claimer at Hollywood Park just about a month ago. The Hess-trained gelding has trained well since, retains Talamo and has little to beat. He seems like fairly good value at 3-1 on the morning line, so we’ll make him a rolling exotic single.

The first timers haven’t impressed the private clockers, so the two fillies with the best form - #1 Lady Adelle and #2 Win for M’lou – should dominate this maiden affair. The former missed by a nose in her second lifetime start at Hollywood Park in late November and with any kind of a forward move today she’ll be hard to handle. Comebacker Win for M’lou ran into a couple of buzz saws last spring before being stopped on, and the works indicate she’s coming back as well as she left, perhaps better. Craig Dollase is superb with layoff runners and appears to have this filly fit and ready to roll. We’ll use them both in our rolling exotics.

#6 In the Slips is 4/5 on Jon White’s morning line and looks every bit the part of an odds-on winner in the Blue Norther Stakes. The Mullins-trained filly tipped her hand with an excellent runner up effort in the Miesque Stakes in her U.S. debut in late November and a similar effort today buries this group.

#5 Practical Magic looked quite good for a bottom rung claimer when beating $10,000 company at Hollywood Park last month, and if he can turn in two alike, he’ll come right back despite the double jump in class. The concern is that he hasn’t really run well in two tries over the Pro Ride surface, but he might be a better type now so we’ll stick with him one more time. The son of Bertrando should be the controlling speed and his career top 91 Beyer figure earned his most recent win is considerably better than par for this level.

The fifth is an impossible maiden claimer that has “pace meltdown” written all over it. None of the first timers have been impressive in the morning and the known element hardly seems trustworthy. Best advice is to use as many as you can afford to in your rolling exotics.

We’ll go three-deep in the sixth race, a fairly competitive $25,000 claimer restricted to 4-year-olds. #2 Alabama Boy is seeking his third straight score while moving up in class and invading Southern California for the first time. He’s a little light in the speed figure department but his current sharpness must be respected. #4 Joe Carl, a very consistent sort with proven winning form over this track, missed as the choice in an elongated sprint across town last time out but seems more comfortable around two turns and gets ideal conditions today. He’s the one to beat. #6 Green Card James, second in the same race Joe Carl exits, can be dangerous from off the pace and with some help up front he’ll be rolling in the final furlong.

The main contention is hung outside in the seventh race, a one mile maiden turf affair for 3-year-old fillies, but both #8 Smoothe as Candy and #9 Empire Spring appear to stand out from the others. Smoothe as Candy has improving numbers for Hollendorfer and should stick better on turf. With another forward move today she could be tough to run down. Empire Spring continues to train like a very good prospect for Clement and seems better than shown. She exits a good sprint, stretches out again to what should be a better trip and could break through with a major performance today.

The eighth race is a difficult sprint for 4-year-old claiming fillies and while we’re going to use just three in our rolling exotics, feels free to spread even more. #2 Bubbley Blonde tackles a bit tougher following a pair of sharp wins at Hollywood Park, one from off the pace and the other on the front end. She’s run well enough on the Pro Ride to anticipate another good effort despite the change in venues. #5 Yodelady O is long overdue for a win and is realistically spotted today. She’ll be doing her best running from off the pace under Bejarano and should at least get a piece of it. #8 Silent Stalk could be the best of the pace types but missed recently at 3/5 in an abbreviated dash. If she can clear early without undue pressure she could take them a long way.

The Sensational Star Handicap down the hill is today’s feature and the 10-year-old Shadow of Illinois is as thoroughly genuine and consistent as any horse on the grounds. He’s won five races on this turf course and could easily add to that total today as the Saavedra-trained gelding seeks his fourth straight score. Lava Man’s half-brother, #5 Enriched, should enjoy the expected soft pace and with a winning race down the hill to his credit should be in the thick of things throughout.

The tenth race is a maiden claimer with three main contenders. #11 Born to Shop has worked better than the times would indicate for Truman and this son of the win-early stallion Swiss Yodeler looks like a live debut runner and a “must use” in the exotics. #12 Rapid Riders was a tad short in his recent comeback but won’t be today. The Miller-trained gelding retains Bejarano and should be a factor from off the pace. #14 Alpine Warrior missed by a head in a similar spot last month and after finishing second three straight times he could be ready to finally break on through with a win.

Happy New Year!