Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Feb. 11, 2012)

An outstanding Saturday program begins with #2 Cardiff Giant appearing to be well spotted in the opener, a $20,000 claimer at six furlongs. Second off the claim for Ted West and dropping a notch below what he was taken for, the veteran gelding returns to conventional dirt and should draft into a nice second flight stalking position. We’re hoping that at this level he can reach back for one of his better efforts and produce the last run.

The second race is a nine furlong starter’s allowance affair on grass and looks ideal for #2 Last String to return to the winner’s circle. The late-running mare overcame trouble to rally strongly but too late when runner-up in a fast miler vs. similar last month and today gets an extra furlong to work with. Rosario rides her back for Sadler and we’re expecting her to make amends for her failure at even money last time out.

A group of highly promising maiden 3-year-olds meet in the third race and this one mile main track event should produce a few future stakes types. #3 Welter Weight overcame traffic trouble in the lane to wind up a willing but well-beaten second in a highly-rated sprint last month, has trained sharply since and should produce a major forward move today. A million dollar yearling by Smart Strike, the Asmussen trained sophomore will love the added ground and figures to be close up throughout. We like him to win but greatly respect both Baffert entrants, #7 Stirred Up, and #8 Bodemeister, and either one can win as well. Stirred Up finished full of run to be second sprinting two weeks ago and then galloped out like a house afire. He’s being wheeled back pretty quickly but looks very live with the switch to Rosario. Bodemeister is also bred to run on (Empire Maker) and earned a strong figure when second in his debut sprinting earlier this meeting. Bejarano stays aboard and should have him on or near the lead throughout.

We’ll go three-deep in the fourth race in our rolling exotics in what appears to be wide open middle distance bottom-rung claimer. #2 All My Chips won a restricted $12,500 seller last month with a moderate number and seems properly spotted against open company today. He should be prominent throughout and have every chance for a repeat score. #5 El Merito takes another class drop for Mitchell after failing as the favorite just eight days ago, and although he’s seen better days the veteran gelding must be given a strong look at this level. #6 Elusive Schemes, second off the claim for Glatt, won a slightly stronger race during the autumn meeting over this track, is better than his last race shows, and should draft into an pace stalking position outside.

We very much like the chances of the second time starting #7 Askra in the fifth race, a maiden turf affair for three year old fillies. By Dynaformer from a mare by Kingmambo, she’s bred to run long on the lawn and gets her chance following a nice sprint prep down the hill last month. Rosario rides her back for Sadler and should have her along in time. We’ll use her in the straight pool as well as a rolling exotic single.

The sixth race is a maiden claiming miler for $30,000 3-year-olds and probably requires a spread. Those that have a right to win include #2 Mr. Padre (in the money in his last pair vs. similar); #3 Ron Burgundy (stretching out for the first time and continuing to train well); #4 Honeycomb (first try around two-turns, bred for it, and looking good in the morning), and #10 War Politics (poorly drawn but improving with good figures for the level and retaining Bejarano). Of the four we’ll prefer War Politics, post and all, but all four should be considered in rolling exotic play.

#3 Le Mans should love the lawn and gets his first shot on the sod in an entry level downhill sprint that goes as the seventh race. The son of War Front has shown the ability to fire fresh and has trained like he’s fit and ready for his first start since last July. The one to fear most is #4 Ten Devils, a strong third over this course and distance against similar company last month and razor sharp in the morning since for Mandella. Talamo will have him charging in the lane.

The eighth race is an entry level allowance sprint for distaffers and #9 Pink Lollipop, so impressive in her maiden win for Baffert earlier this month, looks ready for a repeat effort following a series of blazing workouts since that score in late December. The daughter of Silver Deputy lands a nice outside draw and can take control earlier or settle into a stalking position depending upon how the race shapes up. She’s 5/2 on the morning line and we’d love to get anywhere close to that.

The featured San Marcos Stakes at 10 furlongs on turf goes as the ninth race and #4 Sanagas is the deserving 8/5 morning line favorite. Now in the Miller barn via a private purchase, the lightly-raced gelding is fresh from a thoroughly convincing score in the Gr. 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in December at Hollywood Park and has looked spot on in the morning for his new connections. #2 Norvsky could not have been more impressive than he was winning the recent San Gabriel Stakes, racing wide throughout without cover but still storming home to out kick the high class Jeranimo. Though Bejarano jumps ship to pilot course specialist Bourbon Bay, Norvsky may offer the best value at anywhere close to his morning line odds of 7/2.

The nightcap is a extended sprint for older maiden claimers and is another you may feel the need to spread in rolling exotic play. #6 Father Pabst drops to his lowest level ever and may have found his friends today; the Cerin-trained gelding switches to Bejarano and continues to act in the morning line he might be better than shown. #8 Jorburg Star adds blinkers after disappointing in his recent comeback for Miller; he’s worth giving another look to with the weight break and the switch to hot bug boy Flores. You must also consider #11 Candy Sweetheart, another blinkers-on play and first off the claim for clever trainer Belvoir. Rosario rides him back and the son of Candy Ride should appreciate this extended sprint trip.