Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thur., Feb. 2, 2012)

The first week of racing in February begins with a typical Thursday program (the good stuff is saved for the weekends). The opener is an extended sprint for moderate claimers and brings back #5 Square Deal and #3 Star Nicholas, one-two finishers in a similar affair last month. Square Deal moves down a notch to the $12,500 level and is 6/5 on the morning line while Star Nicholas, beaten more than two lengths by his main rival, should appreciate the extra half furlong today while getting a two pound shift in the weights, for whatever that’s worth. You’d have to believe the winner will be one of these two.

The second race is a high priced maiden claimer that showcases another 6/5 morning line choice in #4 Love My Way. She’s a first-time-for-a-tag play and adds blinkers after chasing home the highly regarded Princess Arabella in a hot straight maiden affair on New Years’ Eve. She’ll try to take this group gate to wire and with the shortening up to five and one-half furlongs the daughter of Pomeroy looks very difficult to catch. However, both #6 Queen Mercury and #7 H. J.’s Kitty have trained like they’ve got some ability, so this may not be quite the slam dunk that it appears to be.

The third race kicks off the Pick-6 sequence; this is the best race on the card as it features some very promising three-year-old turf fillies at a mile. #2 Twelve Folds crushed a state bred maiden field sprinting last month, earning a big figure in an eight length romp. She’s stretches out, switches to turf and tackles winners for the first time, but this could be a good filly and she had a very nice grass workout last week. With no other real speed in here, the daughter of Cindago will take them a very long way, especially if she relaxes during the early stages. #3 Byrama flew home despite some traffic trouble in a very promising U.S. debut in the Blue Norther Stakes earlier this meeting and today surfaces in a first level allowance affair. She switches to Bejarano, has trained well since her race, and, assuming she doesn’t “Euro-bounce,” should be flying home. These are the two we’ll prefer, though #6 Indecise has improved steadily for Mandella and with another forward move could be a threat as well.

#3 Lottawampum looks well placed to graduate in the fourth race, an extended sprint for older straight maiden fillies and mares. The daughter of Indian Charlie finished a wiling second in a hot race in December and seems likely to move forward in a big way with that effort underneath her. #7 Generation of Love, third in the same race that Lottawampum exits, also will be making her second career start and she, too, should benefit greatly from the outing. These two should dominate what otherwise is rather lackluster affair.

Bottom rung claimers meet in at the abbreviated sprint distance of five and one-half furlongs in the fifth race. #1 Dave’s Pacemaker earned a monster speed figure in winning his fourth straight up north over the all-weather surface at Golden Gate Fields and if he can duplicate his Bay Area form today he could extend his streak. Worth noting is his form over this conventional dirt track last year (it was quite strong). The concern is he’s not particularly quick from the gate and from the rail post he may find himself in a precarious position early if he doesn’t leave well, but this winner of nine of 19 career starts knows where the wire is and will be running on strongly late. #9 Mayor Marv nosed out Dave’s Pacemaker when they met here last April, and while he continues to drop for Baffert, the once promising gelding will be hard to handle if he has one more good one left in him. He’s quicker than Dave’s Pacemaker and has the benefit of the outside draw.

Restricted (non-winners of two) $25,000 claiming fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in the sixth race and rolling exotic players may feel the need to spread. #1 Big Tsimmis ran second at this level last month and will be in the thick of things again assuming she can avoid trouble from the rail. #2 To the Top beat a very modest maiden claiming field by more than five lengths recently but her number wasn’t anything special; she’s realistically spotted by Mitchell and has a right to improve in what will be just her third career start. #4 Shezabigbroad drops into a claimer for the first time and is very likely to improve in her first start since September; she lands Bejarano and has been impressing the private clockers in the morning. These are the three we’ll be using with Shezabigbroad the most intriguing of the group.

First level allowance turf sprinters meet in today’s seventh race feature, a race that looks on paper to be stronger than par. #3 Dixieland Blues graduated down the hill last month in a rail-skimming performance; he’s lightly raced and eligible to move forward again for good trainer Jones. #6 Dance With Gamble is an old ex-classer who remains in good form and with 15 victories in his resume he certainly knows how to beat a field of this quality. He’s back with Bejarano, who won on him last April, and the Pender-trained gelding has been first or second in five of seven outings over the downhill course. #7 Husband’s Folly broke his maiden over this course last year and most recently finished strongly but too late when fifth vs. similar in the same race Dance With Gamble exits in late December. Smith will have him doing his best work late again.

The finale is a seven furlong affair that provides price players with a chance to close out the day in the black. That’s assuming #3 The Black doesn’t win it. He’ll be the favorite and deservedly so, as the O’Neill-trained gelding goes from stakes company into a maiden claiming affair while shortening up in trip and returning to conventional dirt. Factor in the switch to Bejarano and the son of Cherokee Run may go a tad lower than his morning line odds of 2-1. His closing runner-up effort in maiden claiming company three runs back certainly makes him the one to beat today. However, don’t sleep on #6 Warren’s Wesley, listed at 20-1 on the morning line. Off slowly and never a threat in his debut against slightly tougher rivals last month, the Guiterrez-trained colt has trained forwardly since and seems very likely to improve a bunch today with the added distance and the race under his belt. He’s also switching to hot bug boy Eswan Flores and gets a seven pound break in the weights. Toss him in at a price. #10 Papa P B, first off the claim for Hendricks after finishing fifth in a similar spot New Year’s Day, is another with decent works since his debut. He lands the cozy outside post while switching to Marty Garcia and can be expected to move up considerably today for a barn that traditionally does well with first-after-claim runners.