Jeff Siegel's Analysis for Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010

There were only 56 horses entered on today’s eight race program, so finding a decent price play won’t be easy. Maybe stringing together a few rolling exotics can produce a profitable afternoon.

Today’s first race finds #4 Red Door Drive seeking his second straight win after finally breaking his maiden in career start number 13. The funny thing is, he actually looked pretty good doing it, and the Baffert-trained 5-year-old lands a relatively soft spot to make it two in a row. This starter’s allowance affair likely will be slowly run early and that should play right into the strength of this son of Sky Mesa, who was able to press soft splits before kicking clear with authority when graduating last month at Hollywood Park with a decent number for the level. Pedroza rides him back and a similar result is likely, but probably at less than the 9/5 morning line odds.

We’ll use three contenders in the second race, #2 Acute Velocity, #5 Speedy Cleaners, and #6 Lucy Got Lucky, and any one of the three seem capable of graduating in this bottom rung maiden claimer for older fillies and mares. Acute Velocity switches to hot riding Espinoza and likely will be a bit closer to the pace in a small field lacking speed. She does her best running late, and over a track that tends to compliment the stretch runners she might be able to produce the last run. Speedy Cleaners drops to the bottom for her third start since arriving from England and is a “must use” in the exotics despite the long layoff. Her form in England on poly track wasn’t all that bad, and after chasing infinitely tougher last year, she returns in a very modest spot for a good trainer who sends them fit and spots them right. Flores isn’t what you’d call a live rider these days, but he knows her well, having ridden her in both of her previous local outings. Lucy Got Lucky is an 11-race maiden with six runner up tries and may lack a winning punch, but she’s second off the claim for Julio so there may be improvement in her. Clearly, she’s no bargain at 8/5 on the morning line, but she’s tops in the Beyer department and Pedroza should have her within striking range throughout.

The third race kicks off the Pick-6 – extremely playable today for small investors – and #2 Recess likely will be a single on most tickets. Beaten as the choice just a week ago against a slightly tougher field, the O’Neill-trained mare drops to the bottom and wins with anything close to her best effort. No worse than second in six of her last seven starts, she has enough tactical speed to stay clear of trouble, and if the short rest doesn’t do her in, she’ll be home free. But at 6/5 on the morning line and likely headed to odds-on, there’s not an ounce of value.

The fourth race presents a much better wagering opportunity in both the rolling and vertical exotics. We’ll double the race using #1 Kristen’s Lil Lady and #8 Princess Suances, with the better price of the two, Kristen’s Lil Lady (8-1 on the morning line) appearing particularly attractive. This Bay area invader ran better than the lines will show up north and should be competitive at this state bred allowance level from her good inside draw. A clever winner with a career top Beyer (85) figure three races back when rallying from off the pace, the daughter of Souvenir Copy was then victimized by a very wide trip and couldn’t threaten. But it was her most recent race that really caught the eye, as she was a much troubled fourth after leaving from the 10-hole and being shut off repeatedly while being trapped in traffic along the rail much of the way. With clear sailing today, the Tim Yakteen-trained filly could prove very troublesome. Princess Suances is the likely choice and one to beat, although we’re not really thrilled about her outside draw over a course with the auxiliary rail set at 30 feet. However, she exits a live race (winner A Jealous Woman came back to repeat on the raise) and her numbers continue to improve with experience. Rosario will try to get her over and tuck in behind the pace, and if successful this Vienna-trained filly will take some beating.

Durable, dependable mid-grade claiming sprinter #3 Bad Boy looks like the one to beat in the fifth race, an extended dash for $40,000 sellers, but he’s not a slam dunk at 8/5 on the morning line, so we’ll also consider a couple of class droppers, #2 Quoted, and #4 Nitro Active. Bad Boy had won three of his previous four starts before being beaten on the square at a higher level last month at Hollywood Park, and after a bit of a respite should be primed for a return to top form for Julio. A late-running sprinter who excels in these extended sprints, Bad Boy retains his regular pilot Flores and should be tough to contain late. Quoted returns to his claim level today and is back sprinting after fading in the Sir Beaufort Stakes opening day, flunking both his class test and is route test in the process. He’ll be part of the pace throughout and should stick better in this league. Nitro Active removes blinkers, drops into a claimer, shortens up, switches surfaces and gets Bejarano. He’s been a bit of a money burner throughout his career, but on numbers he’s a solid fit and at a 5-1 on the morning line we’ll throw him in.

The sixth race brings out another likely heavy favorite, #6 Lady Alex (9/5 on the morning line), whose only prior turf outing resulted in a thoroughly convincing starter’s allowance sprint win down the hill during the Oak Tree meeting. Today she’ll be trying a distance of ground for the first time, and while we suspect the added distance won’t be an issue, it’s a factor you must consider when taking a short price. However, where’s the competition? #2 Powerofvoodoo has figures that make her a threat, and she exits a solid race over the course in which she rallied from the 10-hole to wind up third. However, her 2-for-42 lifetime record in hard to ignore. At 8-1 on the morning line she’s fairly enticing but would seem to be a much better candidate to complete the exacta underneath Lady Alex.

From a pure pace standpoint, #4 Total Bull looks like a total standout in the seventh race, a first level allowance sprint that lacks any kind of early speed. Total Bull overcame a slow start to stalk the leader in his racing debut at Oak Tree and then responded to win going away with an impressive speed figure. He didn’t work for six weeks afterward, which explains why he didn’t resurface at Hollywood Park, but the Baffert-trained 5-year-old should be fit again by now and with Bejarano riding him back the son of Fusaichi Pegasus looks like a short price to remain unbeaten. Coming from the opposite end of the spectrum is #3 Jeranimo, who didn’t run all that badly when ninth, beaten six lengths, in the Gr.1 Malibu Stakes opening day. He’s not particularly quick leaving the gate, but should be able to settle in comfortably in the second flight and then launch his bid when it matters. If the track seems to be playing relatively kind to speed (not often the case on a Wednesday program), we’d be tempted to single Total Bull; otherwise you can double the heat with Jeranimo and feel pretty safe.

The finale is a state bred maiden turf affair for older fillies and mares and if she’s ready, #4 Tizzy Retsina could prove troublesome at 7/2 on the morning line. Her one race last year wasn’t bad – she was third after a poor start with an okay figure in a tougher spot – and returns off a nine month layoff with a series of steady drills that should have her fit enough. We’ll use her along with the long time maiden #2 Unknown Heat, in the money on her last outing but still winless in 15 starts. Clearly, we have a much stronger preference to Tizzy Retsina.