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Jeff Siegel's Analysis for Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010
Racing resumes on Saturday at Santa Anita following two days of closure due to the severe weather that dropped more than seven inches of rain on the main track this week. It’s anybody’s guess how the surface will play and whether it will contain any type of bias, so the best advice to observe and evaluate during the early portion of the program to determine whether your original selections will need adjusting.
The first event should come down to #3 You Can Dream and #7 Life By R R, as both are coming off sharp scores against slightly lesser company. You Can Dream moves up two notches following a facile score vs. $16,000 sellers last week and if the short rest doesn’t impact her she’ll be a strong threat right back. Life By R R, comfortably positioned outside, should enjoy an idea pace prompting trip and a repeat of her convincing score on New Year’s Day probably will be good enough for a repeat win today.
The second race, a starter’s allowance affair for fillies and mares, appears tailor made for #3 Kimmyv, who finished a sharp second in a similar affair last month at Hollywood Park. The lightly-raced daughter of El Corredor has made a forward move in each of her starts and earned a rather sharp figure in her most recent outing. A series of impressive works in the interim should have her set to improve again, and Garcia, who has been getting on a number of live runners for this stable in the past few weeks, should have her along in plenty of time. However, at 7/5 on the morning line she doesn’t figure to provide much value.
As this is written, the third race is slated for turf, and we’ll handicap it as such. However, if the race is transferred to the main track, play with caution. #3 Times Gone By, under any circumstance, figures tough at this level. At bit rusty after a two month layoff, the Mandella-trained horse should be tighter today, retains Espinoza and likely will be within striking range throughout. #7 Art Currency probably needs turf for his best and if the race stays on the lawn he’ll be tough to deny. The Mitchell-trained horse retains Rosario and adds blinkers and is due for some luck after missing in a pair of photos in his last two races. #12 Gothic Samurai makes a pivotal rider switch to Gomez, has run well in all three of his U.S. outings since being imported from Australia and should be a strong pace factor throughout. It would help if he can learn to relax and switch off early and perhaps with experience and Drysdale’s expert training he’ll do just that.
Maiden claimers kick off the pick-6 in the fourth race and #9 Excessive Chatter appears the best of the known element. Second in both of her prior outings, the Kitchingman-trained filly should be on or near the lead throughout at this abbreviated sprint trip and lands a comfortable outside post. Maybe the one to fear most is the first timer #8 Elegant Choice from the Caesar Dominguez barn. Her works are a bit better than the actual clocking indicate and clearly she won’t have to be any kind of world beater to act at this level. We’ll certainly use her at 8-1 on the morning line in all of our rolling exotics.
If #7 Tallahsocean fires her best shot she can win the fifth race, a $12,500 claiming sprint for fillies and mares. She’s first-off-the-claim for Hess and in fact has changed barns in three of her last four starts. Today she returns after being kept in jail and on the sidelines since late November and her past performances show a win following a vacation, so the rest might have done her some good. Blinkers are added for the first time and Bejarano stays aboard, so we expect she’ll be able to produce the last run over a track that usually compliments that style of running. You may also consider doubling the race in your rolling exotics with #9 Sunny Peace, a Pro Ride specialist who should enjoy a trouble free trip outside. While she’s taking a sharp drop in class, the Gary Stute-trained mare remains above her claim level and on paper is strictly the one to fear most.
The sixth race for maidens at the extended sprint distance of seven furlongs looks like a better than par race and it should take a pretty nice colt to win it. #5 Rauschenberg, second in a fast, highly-rated race in his debut last month at Hollywood Park, seems certain to make a forward move in his second career outing, as most runners from the Marty Jones barn do. The son of Grand Slam has worked well since that race, retains Espinoza, and is a “must use” in the exotics. First time starter #6 Utopian, from the John Shirreffs barn, has been much better in the morning that stable mate #2 Colonel Mustard and looks like a very live item despite this trainer’s noted lack of success with debut runners. A $400,000 son of Rock Hard Ten, Utopian gets Mike Smith and figures to settle early and rally late. Kinda like Zenyatta (well, maybe not quite that good). #9 Leothelion, with two good efforts under his belt, lands the favorable outside post and is the deserved morning line choice at 2-1. He earned a powerful 91 Beyer figure when second to Concord Point opening day and that figure, if repeated today, likely will be good enough to earn a diploma.
The seventh race, a first level allowance event, is slated for the Hillside Turf Course and, as this is written, it is unknown whether the event will remain on grass. On any surface #7 Smoke Cat looks tough, especially if he runs back to his sharp try in a hot race here Jan. 8, when he finished fourth, beaten just over a length, after setting the pace and fighting back bravely under pressure in the final furlong. He’s a seven year old finally getting a chance on turf for the first time and this former bottom rung claimer from the hot Mike Pender barn could very well enjoy it. #9 Pack Your Bags ran well to be third over the course two runs back during the Oak Tree season but was somewhat disappointing in his next start at Hollywood Park. Freshened since November and switching to Bejarano, the Glatt-trained gelding should fire his best shot and is worth using at 8-1 on the morning line. #11 Adam Suances has won down the hill in the past, tackles a softer group today and retains Rosario. He’s lightly-raced, a fit on speed figures and should fold over into a good second flight position.
The Palos Verdes Handicap, today’s feature that goes as the eighth race, marks the return of Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Dancing in Silks, who will be putting his four race winning streak on the line against a strong field, but certainly not the quality that he upset on World Championship day back in November. He has a history of running well fresh, so the layoff won’t be an excuse, but he does need some racing luck from the rail and it remains to be seen if this track will favor the rally-widers as it has through much of the season so far. At 6/5 on the morning line he doesn’t offer any value, so use him in your rolling exotics but definitely toss in #7 Supreme Summit, who despite the lack of early pace finished fastest off all when rallying from 13th to 4th in the final quarter in what has proven to be a very productive Malibu Stakes opening day. Hopefully, there will be enough early speed to aid his cause and with clear sailing the O’Neill-trained colt could be very dangerous at 9/2 on the morning line.
The ninth race, a modest maiden claimer for older fillies and mares, has plenty of cheap speed in the lineup and could be won by a closer. #1 Irish Pepper can employ that style and if she can avoid any mishaps from the rail, the Puype-trained miss could be tough to contain late. At 9/2 on the morning line she represents solid value. #10 Allie Wolff is a first timer by Smart Strike debuting at the bottom for Carla Gaines, so we assume this filly has, or had her share of physical problems. However, her works indicate she’s got some ability and a little certainly will go a long way in this spot. We’ll throw her in at 6-1 on the morning line, and also use #11 Closing Steps, the comebacker in the Sadler barn who showed some spark during the summer of her two-year-old season and has a good enough work tab and Rosario aboard to warrant a very close look.