TODAY’S BEST (Dec. 29, 2010, Santa Anita)

This Mulhall-trained colt showed ability when second in his racing debut in a similar high priced maiden claimer at Hollywood Park in October and verified that effort when a better-than-looked sixth (beaten 4 ½ lengths) in a much tougher straight maiden sprint in his most recent outing. Juvenile son of Officer has worked nicely since that race, retains Espinoza, and won’t have to improve much at all to earn his diploma in a race that pretty much boils down to the two morning line favorites. #2 Polished Nickel, first off the claim for Walsh, has credentials as well, but Schuylkill Punch may have tad more early speed and could get the jump on his main rival. We’ll take anything close to his 2-1 morning line odds and make him a solid rolling exotic single.

A promising juvenile colt by Awesome Again, this Baffert-trained colt gets a chance around two turns for the first time and he sprints like he’ll thoroughly enjoy the added ground. A game third while under pressure along the rail in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes last month, Awesome Patriot tries a tough and competitive first level allowance field today but with a strong seven furlong work in 1:25 2/5 under his belt over this track, he should be set for a major forward move. He’s third choice on the morning line at 3-1 and represents excellent straight and rolling exotic value at that price.