Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Feb. 24, 2012)

Light fields dominate the Friday program but there’s a carryover in the Pick-6 of $71,097 to make things quite interesting.

The opener is a $16,000 claiming sprint with just six in the field, including #5 Devoted Magic, overmatched vs. $25,000 sellers last time out on turf but realistically spotted today while returning to the main track. The Heap-trained gelding was once a graded stakes winning sprinter around these parts and his past class – or a repeat of his highly-rated victory against $8,000 foes up north over the Tapeta surface last month – would be more than good enough to win. If you’re looking for a bit better price the Phoenix shipper #4 Woombroom Express would seem like a logical alternative or at least an exacta partner with ‘Magic.

The second race is a modest claiming sprint for fillies and mares and #6 Si Mar’s Dear is being wheeled back in a week for new trainer Craigmyle after drifting out late and winding up fourth vs. bottom-rungers. She switches to hot buy boy Flores, lands the comfortable outside post and seems likely to improve despite tackling what should be a tougher field, but really isn’t. #4 Lisa Lulu moves down a notch for Carava while switching to Rosario and will get major consideration despite her 3-for-51 lifetime record. She does like to finish third, though (15 times).

Older maidens sprint down the hill in the third race and two second time starters exiting the same race deserve most of the attention. #1 Blu Jon finished strongly but ran out of room when runner-up in a similar affair in mid-January and has a right to improve a bunch today with Smith riding him back for Shirreffs. He’s had four useful drills since that race so all signs point to a major effort. #4 Prime Number, third in the same race Blu Jon exits, also should step forward with that race behind him. Sadler adds blinkers, and the Maria’s Mon gelding looks very much like the controlling speed. You can make a strong case for either one.

The fourth race is a maiden seller for 3-year-old fillies and the always powerful angle of straight maiden to maiden claimer for the first time applies to #3 Candy and Thunder. In addition to this being her first start for a tag, it will also be her first appearance on conventional dirt. The concern is her lack of gate speed and how she’ll react if she gets pelted with the kick back. As for the contention, #7 Chimi Dee has shown enough in the morning to be effective in this league and is a “must use” in rolling exotic play.

The fifth race is a downhill slalom for older mid-level claiming distaffers and looks like a proper spot for #2 Brown Is Beige. First or second in each of her last three outings and being wheeled back in eight days, the O’Neill-trained daughter of Popular has rising numbers and a good stalking style for the course. She’s never been off the board in six career starts on turf and should draft into a nice pace prompting position. #3 Hakuchi has been chasing tougher and could be a late threat under Nakatani, while #4 We Are One, first or second in all five career starts on turf and boasting that route-to-sprint angle, both are worth considering in the exotics.

#1 Heidi Maria seems perfectly spotted in the sixth race, a first level allowance for fillies and mares over a distance of ground. She has improving numbers, the good inside post, and retains Rosario following a solid third place effort vs. similar last month. #6 Born Lucky gains Bejarano and stretches out while switching from turf to conventional dirt for the first time. She exits a powerful affair, has back numbers that can win, and blew out in 46 and change the other day. We’ll be surprised if the winner isn’t one of these two.

The feature is a downhill turf sprint for first level Calbreds and we’re looking at two major players in #3 Earnednevergiven and #5 Star Nicholas. The former is a class dropping course specialist and gets a weight break with the switch to bug boy Flores, while the latter is a first-off-the-claim for Mulhall and draws Rosario. Both are dangerous from off the pace and both are worth including in your rolling exotic play.

High priced maiden claimers complete the card and the two that stick out are #1 I Know I Know and #3 Take No Prisoners. The Machowsky-trained I Know I Know has worked well enough to be a solid fit at this level and if he leaves cleanly from the rail he’ll be dangerous. Take No Prisoners, a route to sprint play for Baffert and being raised from $30,000 to $50,000 in a sign of confidence, looks clearly the best of those that have raced.