Jeff Siegel's Analysis for Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010

Sunday’s opener is an unplayable five-horse maiden race that finds #5 Nicole H, a good second in her debut, listed at even money on the morning line. She goes from inside to outside for a trainer who is excellent with second time starters and should enjoy a very easy front running trip. No value, so we’ll pass.

The second race looks well designed for #2 Gilligan to return to the winner’s circle. The Mel Stute-trained gelding finished third and then second in starter’s allowance company recently, switches to Talamo, and should be able to produce the last run. The main threat should come from recent maiden claiming winner #5 Strikingly Sinful, who has the pedigree to improve with experience and distance and could be dangerous with a forward move for Becerra. Hot riding Espinoza rides him back.

Older maidens sprint down the hill in the third race with #5 Horowitz, a sharp third in a similar turf dash at Hollywood Park last month, looking like the one to beat. The Mitchell-trained colt makes a major rider change to Rosario, has improving numbers, and catches a field he should be able to control from start to finish. #2 Discounted, fourth in the same race Horowitz exits, seems like the one to fear most and is probably worth using in the exotics as a saver.

#4 Exile is 6/5 on the morning line in the fourth face and would appear to be a logical Pick-6 single. However, he’s taking a severe class drop (from straight maiden to M25,000) so he may have some issues, and certainly offers no value. Every other entrant in this race is essentially slow (at least on speed figures), so unless you’re playing rolling exotics this affair should be passed.

We like our fifth race single much better. #3 A Jealous Woman was visually impressive when beating state bred first level allowance foes last month across town for her second straight win, and the gamble is that she can route as well as she can sprint. This barn does extremely well with stretch-out runners and at 4-1 on the morning line, the daughter of Muqtarib looks like pretty good value. Talamo should be able to drop into the second flight just behind the leaders and the produce the winning move in the final furlong.

The sixth race, a entry-level allowance race around two turns, is an open fray and we’ll try to get through it using just two horses, #4 Laser Point and #7 Fantasy Free. You may go deeper if you can afford to. Laser Point is a fit on numbers and comes off a solid effort in a similar spot at Hollywood Park. He’s relatively lightly raced and should have another forward move in him for Mullins. Fantasy Free, a winner of two of his last three, makes his first start for Avila off the claim and has finished first or second in seven of 11 lifetimes starts at Santa Anita. Bejarano should have him forwardly placed throughout.

The seventh race is another competitive downhill turf slalom and we’ll go three-deep using #1 Point Attended, #7 Flashmans Papers and #10 Captain Kali. Point Attended is a route to sprint play (always a good long shot angle on this course) and didn’t run badly in his only prior start down the hill. The rail post is no help but on numbers he’s a solid fit. Flashmans Papers is especially effective in these downhill turf sprints and after a brief freshening should fire a big shot under Bejarano, who won with him two races back. He’ll be running on late. Captain Kali earned a career top fig when demolishing a softer field last month at Hollywood Park and looks tough right back from the good outside post. He broke his maiden over this course last year and seems like a much better type now. He’s our top pick and one to beat at 4-1 on the morning line.

We’ll make #3 Crisp our top selection in the featured Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. She did everything wrong when she broke her maiden last month but if she can run straight and true today she’ll be a major player right back for Sadler. She continues to train like a quality sort, switches to Rosario and should improve considerably with experience. The filly she beat when breaking her maiden came back to run second in as stakes up north, franking the form in the process.

The ninth race is a state bred maiden sprint for 3-year-old fillies, and the first timers don’t look terribly exciting, so let’s stay with #2 Bonita Montana and #5 Blind Optimism, both who whom should benefit greatly from a race under their belts. Bonita Montana exits a strong, productive heat when fourth after pressing the pace and with any kind of improvement today figures tough to beat. Blind Optimism, a fading fifth in her only start likely will move forward as well. Both are worth using in your rolling exotics, but Bonita Montana is clearly the top pick and one to beat.