Jeff Siegel's Analysis for Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010

Carryover Saturday – there’s $115,261 in the Pick-6 pool after nobody tabbed six on Friday – begins with a lackluster opener that has an untrustworthy 3/5 morning line favorite in #1 Worth a Punt. First time for a tag and catching a below par field for the level, the Zucker-trained colt probably should win, but there’s hardly any value here, but none of the others look appealing. Let’s pass.

The second race should boil down to #1 Alive for Six and #7 Hot Damon and since they will be the two short-priced favorites there’s little value here as well. Alive for Six gets the rail while stretching out for the first time and has worked nicely of late for Gaines. In a race without much speed he could inherit the lead. Hot Damon has burned some money in his last pair (beaten at 3/5 and even money) but he ran well enough in both starts to win and a similar effort today could be good enough. Again, no value.

#1 Asanti is listed at 6-1 on the morning line and seems a bit better than that. First or second in each of her last four starts, the daughter of Skimming is light in the speed figure department but from where she’s drawn she should enjoy a soft pace stalking, ground-saving trip. With only slight improvement, she’ll be dangerous right back despite the move from first level state bred company to an open entry level allowance affair.

The fourth race kicks off the Pick-6 six and now things get interesting. The winner of this maiden race should be either #1 Oceanographer, #3 Mr Charlie, or #5 Wayman – those are the first three choices – and while we’d love to separate them we’ll just play it safe. Oceanographer flopped on turf across town but is a major player with these based on his synthetic track form for Hofmans. Mr Charlie, freshened since Oak Tree, has a look off his promising debut at Del Mar and has worked well enough for Baffert to expect he’ll show up with his best effort today. Wayman has plenty of zip and figures to appreciate this abbreviated sprint trip. Take all three and keep your fingers crossed.

The Impressive Luck Handicap down the hill for older sprinters goes as the fifth race and #2 Noble Court, #3 Mr. Cacht, and #6 Stoneside all should fire big shots. Noble Court was a beaten choice in the Vernon O. Underwood on the main track at Hollywood Park last month and before that couldn’t overcome the dreaded rail in the B.C. Turf Sprint, but he should have no such excuses today. He’ll be rolling late. Mr. Cacht was a classy turf sprinter in Argentina and did very well to finish third in Underwood over the Cushion Track in his U.S. debut. Back on the sod today for Mullins, he’s a “must use” in the exotics. Stoneside removes blinkers for Julio, has been a stakes winner over this course in the past, and seems to be coming up to his best try.

The sixth race sees #2 Top Seeded drop into a winning spot and we’re going to make her our Pick-6 single. The O’Neill-trained filly adds blinkers, shows up for a $50,000 tag after chasing straight maidens in her last pair, and catches what appears to be a below par field for the level. Bejarano should have her along in time.

The seventh race looks far more difficult and probably requires a spread. We’ll go three-deep (you can toss in a few more if you can afford to) using #1 Mensa Heat; #4 Abalanche; and #8 Megillah. Mensa Heat must overcome the rail but he drops into an easier spot following a layoff (Abrams is pretty good off the bench) and might go higher than his listed 8-1 on the morning line. His best makes him a long shot threat. Abalanche removes blinkers for Becerra, likes this Pro Ride surface, and was nosed out under identical conditions during the Oak Tree meeting. He’ll be running on strongly through the lane. Megillah, a route to sprint play and returning to the main track, switches to hot riding Espinoza and has the style to excel at this extended sprint distance.

Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner #4 Life Is Sweet returns to action in today’s eighth race, the San Gorgonio Handicap, and while we think of her as a main track specialist, she can handle the lawn as well. The daughter of Storm Cat has appeared as sharp as ever in the morning for Shirreffs and is the logical favorite and one to beat. Single her if you’d like, but if you're looking to beat the favorite you’ll have to consider #3 Treat Gently, a classy French filly who can fire a big shot fresh and has trained in sharp style for Mott, and #9 Cat by the Tale, who rates a look off her excellent third place finish over the course in the Las Palmas ‘Cap during the Oak Tree meeting.

The finale is a bottom rung restricted claimer for fillies and mares and we’ll try to get through it using #3 Slews Copy, #9 Love to Fish Kona, and #12 Red White and Brew. The Mitchell-trained Slews Copy returns off a seven month layoff with blinkers on, a decent series of works and a pretty good record over the Pro Ride surface. She won under Baze two races back and looks very live at this level. Love to Fish Kona may be the quickest filly in the field and will take them a long way for a high percentage trainer Terry Knight. She could get pressure from another speedy type, Red White and Brew, who gets Gomez, lands an outside post, and might appreciate a stalking trip.