Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thu., Feb. 9, 2012)

The Thursday program begins with a pair of races that present little or no wagering value. The opener is an extended sprint for maiden claiming 3-year-old fillies and #2 Belle Gallantey and #5 Warren’s Assassin – the two favorites – are the only ones that have shown even a modest amount of form. Pass.

The second race holds plenty of interest for those closely following the Triple Crown trail. #1 Consulado was ultra impressive breaking his maiden by seven widening lengths last month and has trained extremely well since. He’ll be the controlling speed while stretching out to a mile and if he can get the trip he’ll certainly toss his hat into the Derby ring. On pedigree he should have no trouble extending to this trip but whether or not he can hold off #5 Fed Biz is the question that must be answered. Trainer Bob Baffert is a little light in Derby prospects this year but Fed Biz has a chance to be a major player. The son of Giant’s Causeway graduated at this distance in late December and has been scintillating in the morning since; he’ll draft into a stalking position and then go on with it. There’s no value at the windows but a good race to observe and evaluate for future reference.

The third race begins the Pick-6 sequence; there’s little depth to the mile maiden claimer for California-bred 3-year-olds and the favorites again are likely will dominate. #1 Rude Bobby drops in for a tag for the first time – always a good angle – and lands the cozy rail while retaining Bejarano. These are his friends and he should be the one to beat. #3 I Feel Free, in the money in his last pair, earned a fairly useful figure when third in a similar spot last time out and he should at least hit the board again today. #5 Dream Caught stretches out for the first time and has the pedigree to run long; Garcia should have him close up throughout in a field lacking speed. Our preference goes to Rude Bobby.

We’re looking to double the fourth race, a nine furlong entry level allowance affair on turf for fillies and mares. #1 Bellini Bliss returned off a layoff to finish second under these conditions last month; a similar effort from her good inside post should produce a forward move and make her a threat right back. #6 Bella Swan, first off the claim for Mitchell (36% with a strong flat bet profit), likes to make the running and catches a field with little speed; she stretches out today and can be very effective when allowed to establish her pace without pressure. Though unproven at this distance, the English-bred mare is 2-for-3 lifetime over this course and will have every chance to stay the trip.

Bottom rung maiden claimers contest the fifth race, an extended sprint for older fillies and mares. #2 Annie Lou is slow on numbers and was beaten at even money vs. similar last month but in a woeful field you may want to give her another chance. Then, again, maybe you won’t. Rosario, who rode Annie Lou last time out, jumps ship to pilot #5 Missie Ky I You, a 16-race maiden (but in the money 10 times) and coming off a fairly respectable runner-up try vs. tougher last month. She’s a major contender by default. #6 Hey I’m Sobaa, first off the claim for Sadler (38%, strong flat bet profit), seems the most likely to improve and she’d better; she finished a weak fourth when favored vs. similar last month but today lands hot riding bug boy Flores and gets a break in the weights. Considering the alternatives she has to be included somewhere.

The sixth race is seven furlong, $10,000 claimer that probably requires a spread. We’ll go three deep and hope to survive. #3 Bench the Judge looked good winning a restricted affair at this trip last month and if he can turn in two alike – not really his strong suit – the O’Neill-trained gelding should be a threat right back, though this clearly is a tougher field. He does like this track (2-for-4) and he’s won a quarter of his 16 starts, so at least the son of Benchmark is willing. #5 Clear to Canada likes to finish second and third more than he likes to win, but the Miller-trained gelding is a late-running sprinter with competitive figures and an excellent record over this conventional dirt surface. He should be running on strongly again and will have his chances promoted if the early races on today’s program indicate that closers have a bit of a chance. #8 Hasty Trend drops two notches in class, switches to Bejarano, is a fit on figures and looks likely to draft into a favorable second flight, stalking position. Of the three, he may be the one to press with.

Today’s feature is an excellent downhill turf sprint that marks the U.S. debut of the highly regarded Australian import #9 Pressday. A Group-1 winner down under, he’s really just a four year old (five by Northern Hemisphere standards) and seems likely to hit the ground running for top trainer Sadler. His local works have been extraordinary and he gets the favorable outside post, Rosario, and Lasix for the first time. Sadler’s other entrant, #1 Carbonite, can run, too, and in fact comes off a clever score over this course and distance last month. This is a tougher gang but he can at least hit the board. #5 Leroy’s Dynameaux always struck us as being most effective as a late-running sprinter and should make his presence felt again in the final furlong. However, they all have Pressday to beat.

The nightcap is a maiden special weight sprint that boils down quickly to the 8/5 morning line favorite, #6 Cyclometer. The Headley-trained colt tipped his hand when an excellent second in a fast, highly-rated dash during the autumn meeting and if runs back to that race today he’ll be hard to deny. #3 Southern Sunrise has shown talent in the morning for Puype and deserves some consideration as does the improving #4 Randazo, third in both career starts to date, most recently with a nice figure over this track against a similar group back on opening day.