Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Feb. 18, 2012)

An excellent 10-race Saturday program begins with a bottom rung maiden claimer for fillies and mares at one mile. There’s not much to work with here, but rest assured better opportunities are available later on. #2 Golden Nip is slow on numbers but comes off a decent runner up try at the level and looks pretty solid, though she’s 8/5 on the morning line and offers no value at that price. #7 Plazarita was overmatched vs. straight maidens recently but has back numbers that make her a threat and retains bug boy Flores. She could be a late threat in a weak affair.

The second race features another short priced favorite, #4 Cloud Hopper, fresh from a sharp maiden score with a nice number and capable of repeating on the raise for hot trainer Sherman. He should continue to move forward with experience and his tactical speed should keep him clear of any traffic trouble. But he’s another favorite not likely to offer any value.

Things start picking up in the third race. #6 Bring It has been away since the summer of 2010 but has trained like a much different type this time around for new trainer Mullins and looks cranked up for a huge effort off the bench. A bullet gate work in 46 and change here last week should have this five year old maiden right on edge. Also worth strong consideration is #9 Skully Gully, another who is very likely much better than the form will show. The Koriner-trained gelding was far back in much tougher straight maiden company down the hill last month but surfaces for a modest tag today while continuing to look good in the morning. His kind of early speed will make him a “must use” in rolling exotic play.

The fourth race is a restricted (nw-2) $12,500 middle distance claimer. #3 Personalitary drops seeking his winning level and may have found it following a speed/fade performance against $25,000 sellers on the turf last month. Rosario stays aboard and should have this Carava-trained gelding on or near the lead throughout. #6 Uzziah is 1-for-22 and obviously not one to trust, but he’s another dropping to his lowest level ever and Talamo will have him doing his best work from the quarter pole home.

A very strong group of maiden 3-year-olds sprint the abbreviated distance of five and one-half furlongs in the fifth race. #6 Gophari exits a very hot race and seems likely to improve for Bonde (strong with second time starters). He shows a recent bullet workout to indicate he has more to give with experience. #7 Paynter is a fast working first timer from the Baffert barn and looks like a very promising sort; the son of Awesome Again seems cranked up and ready to show his stuff rights now as the logical favorite and one to beat.

The sixth race, for maiden 3-year-old fillies, looks like another loaded affair. #2 Flashy Dame, improving with racing and continuing to look sharp in the morning, retains Bejarano and has earned better than par speed figures in both of her outings to date. The Eurton-trained filly certainly has further improvement in her. #5 Mamma Kimbo is a daughter of Discreet Dancer with a typical Baffert series of workouts, fast and impressive. She’s more than fit to win at first asking. #8 Harbor Song has done everything like a high class filly while gearing up for her debut for Carla Gaines and Rosario has been on her in the morning. We like her best at 4-1 on the morning line, though all three should be included in rolling exotic play.

The seventh race is a deep and contentious entry level allowance race on turf and offers some middle priced value. #5 Valley Cat makes a major switch to Bejarano, returns to grass, has a bullet half mile gate work since raced and could be the best of the closers. He’s worth strong consideration at 6-1 on the morning line. #7 Circle the Moon, first or second in five of nine starts for Headley, has good early speed but doesn’t need the lead to win and with improving speed figures looks like a major player under Talamo, who knows him well. #10 Lord’s Minister couldn’t handle a wet fast track in his most recent outing so toss the race out. His prior turf form is solid and makes him a strong contender with his best effort. Smith should have him on or near the lead throughout. Let’s give slight preference to Valley Cat but this wide open affair probably requires a “spread” in rolling exotic play.

There seems little reason to go against #2 Ellafitz in the eighth race feature, the Santa Maria Stakes. She just whipped a similar field in the Paseana ‘Cap last month and she’s been kept on edge with two extremely sharp workouts since that race. The Baffert-trained filly looks like the controlling speed once again but at 8/5 on the morning line (and likely to go lower) she offers little value on the tote. Small ticket players certainly will consider her as a logical rolling exotic single.

The ninth race is a $32,000 claimer on turf at a flat mile and #3 Stonside looks well placed for Canani and is the morning line favorite at 2-1. He’s always preferred to run second or third rather than win but you still have to use him. #5 Global Stage moves up a level following a fast-finishing second over this course at nine furlongs last month; he’ll be charging again in the final furlong and looks highly dangerous with the switch to Bejarano. #7 Winsome Charm is winless in four starts over this course but had a nice recent prep down the hill when a closing third and always has been more effective around two turns. Rosario rides him back for trainer Craig Dollase, who is due to break out of his season long slump.

The nightcap is a restricted (nw-2 )$25,000 claiming sprint and looks difficult but playable. #2 Delta Fix has plenty of zip, continues to sizzle in the morning and retains Pedroza. He’ll bust out and go from his inside draw and take them as far as he can. #3 Rock This Way, freshened since the fall and returning to the claiming ranks, gets Rosario and has looked like a better type in the morning in recent weeks. There may be some value at 6-1 on the morning line. #10 Miles Long Gone exits a hot race, gets an extra half furlong to work with and should be dangerous from off the pace under bug boy Flores.