Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Feb. 17, 2012)

The three day holiday weekend begins with a Friday program that offers a few attractive wagering opportunities. We’ll try to pick our spots.

The opener, a middle distance maiden claimer for 3-year-olds, looks to have two major players in #3 Declan and #6 Tummel, and both should be included in rolling exotic play. Declan has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern and also makes the major drop from straight maiden to maiden claiming. The Exchange Rate gelding gets in light with hot riding bug boy Flores taking the mount and could find himself on the front end in a race devoid of speed. There’s considerable value here at anywhere close to his morning line odds of 4-1. Tummel is the morning line favorite at 8/5; however, he’s already had six chances and may be a tad hard to trust. Third at this level going seven furlongs last month, the son of Yes It’s True tries two turns for the first time and the extra ground shouldn’t be a problem. His numbers are solid but we’re thinking that Declan may have more upside.

The second race is a competitive entry level allowance sprint restricted to California-breds and at first glance in a small field the favorites look pretty solid. However, that might not be the case. #2 Spirit Rules is back sprinting where he belongs (Tribal Rule) and a repeat of his big figure win two races back probably beats this field. But he’s hooking some heat today in the form of #5 Three Vases and both appear to have only one way to go and that’s on the front end. #3 Real Conundrum has the closing style that could be effective if there’s a pace meltdown but he’s much slower on numbers and is being wheeled back in just 13 days. His form could go either way. #1 Coach Bob exits a very hot event and is another who might produce a good late kick if the race shape comes up in his favor. This is a tough race to figure.

The Pick-6 begins in the third race, a maiden claiming affair for 3-year-olds at the abbreviated distance of five furlongs. #3 Patriotic Lion, a distant second to runaway winner The Black in a strong heat earlier this month, is likely to improve at this shorter trip, and with the late scratch of Baffert’s first timer #6 Pac Ten Wildcat, seems to have little to beat. We suggest you use him in your rolling exotics and include anybody else that catches your fancy.

The fourth race is a solid downhill turf sprint for older fillies and mares and at first glance looks cut and dried, with #2 Talktoomuch and #7 Teroda likely to get most of the play. The former missed in a photo in a similar spot last month and should be dangerous once again with Talamo riding her back for Mitchell; the latter exits the best race (second to Unzip Me in the Wishing Well S.), lands the cozy outside post and can really turn it on late. However, you probably should proceed with caution because the obvious lack of early speed in this race could result in a false pace scenario and cause a chaotic result.

Bottom rung maiden claimers compete around two turns in the fifth race and there’s really not much to work with. We’ll take a stand and single #8 Apply in our rolling exotics and hope for the best. The lightly-raced gelding plummets to his lowest level ever for good trainer Carla Gaines while exiting a hot sprint and should be on or near the lead throughout in what likely will be a slowly run affair. His numbers make him a solid fit and Espinoza stays aboard.

The sixth race is a $10,000 claiming sprint that offers a price chance or two. #9 Polly’s Dancer makes his first start for Mullins (30% with a flat bet profit with this angle) and though he’s coming off a series of poor efforts he’s worked well for his new connections and Talamo has been aboard in at least one of those morning drills. The son of Belong to Me might be nothing more than cheap speed, but at 8-1 on the morning line he simply has to be used. #11 Mack’s Gold Bullet also offers some value at his morning line odds of 4-1. Popular of late at the claim box and making his first start for Belvoir (32%, strong flat-bet profit with this maneuver), the lightly-raced gelding is a proven winner over this track, retains Krigger, and had a nice recent breeze in the dark to remain on edge. Both should be included in your rolling exotics and both warrant consideration in the straight pool as well.

Today’s feature race is a two-other-than downhill turf sprint that should be hotly – and closely – contested. #2 Rauschenberg is winless over this course but is getting closer, having just finished third, beaten a half length, a similar affair last month. Bejarano stays aboard and this late-running sprinter should be dangerous once again. #6 El Mirage King moves up a notch following a nice score over this course and distance last month; he can draft into a stalking position under Chantal and be a major factor when it counts in the final furlong. #8 Chosen Miracle lost a heartbreaker to Carbonite last month and was flattered when that one came back to win; the Hollendorfer-trained gelding should be the controlling speed again and will have every chance from his good outside draw.

The finale is a bottom rung extended sprint for fillies and mares and doesn’t have much depth to it. #12 Si Mar’s Dear gets a major break in the weights with 10 pound bug boy Coa taking the mount (he looks pretty good on a horse, by the way) and would seem the solid choice. First or second in seven of 12 career starts and already a winner against slightly tougher foes earlier this meeting, the Mitchell-trained filly should be on or near the lead throughout. There’s some value here at 7/2 on the morning line and we’re hoping we can get that price.