Jeff Siegel's Prime Picks for Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010

TODAY’S BEST (Dec. 26, 2010, Santa Anita)

4th Race - #9 THE FACTOR

Knocked down to 3/5 in his debut last month in a race that trainer Bob Baffert publically confided he thought he’d win, this $250,000 Barretts 2-year-old in training buy wound up fourth, beaten more than three lengths, but he’s much better than that and will get a chance to prove it in this competitive straight maiden dash for juveniles. In heavy traffic down the backside while full of run, the son of War Front didn’t really extract himself until the upper stretch but by that time the cause was lost. A bullet :58 2/5 workout since that race indicates he still has all of his speed, and today we should see his best stuff. The two that you should use with him in an exacta/trifecta box are #7 Hope and Believe and #10 Houston Harbor. The former, out of the very good producing mare Hope Rises, has looked like a very good prospect for Ellis and seems cranked up and ready to roll. The latter, a solid second in his only outing in Kentucky last month and from a barn (Asmussen) that excels with second time starters, may be the quickest in the field and could be very dangerous if he can shake loose early.

Crushed his maiden rivals in his October debut by almost six lengths and the margin would have been double digits had he left with his field. The Mitchell-trained colt overcame the poor start to flash excellent speed to battle for the lead after the opening quarter and then came away with asked like a colt with some quality. He’s very comfortably drawn outside in this extended sprint affair and catches a field without a whole lot of zip. If he breaks cleanly today, he should dominate right back and while he’ll likely go considerably lower than his 9/5 morning line odds, his main value will be as a rolling exotic single.