Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sun., Febl 26, 2012)

The Sunday opener is a maiden dash for 3-year-old fillies and has two main contenders. #1 Tiz the Tide has trained smartly for her comeback for Baffert and very likely will be a better type this time around. That was a nice race she finished third in last summer and Baffert seems to have her fit and ready for a big effort off the bench. Nihilist is strictly the one to beat. The Sadler-trained filly may have needed her recent comeback but shouldn’t have any excuses today. She’s trained sharply since that outing, retains Rosario, and should have the front end all to herself.

The second race is a restricted (nw-2) claimer on turf and looks fairly wide open. #1 The Flying Whizzer should be the controlling speed from his favorable inside draw and with a softer pace scenario coupled with a class drop the Cerin-trained gelding could take this field a long way. #5 Seek the Light, first off the claim for Carava and removing blinkers, stretches out again, switches to Rosario and looks quite dangerous from off the pace. We can’t really say he’s bred to move up on turf, but this will be his first try on the lawn, so who knows? #7 Loro had a tightener down the hill in a fairly strong race for the level and has every right to move forward for Shirreffs. This will be his first try over a distance of ground and he’s bred to stay at least a mile, so we’ll use him, too. Tough race, we’ll include all three in our rolling exotics with slight preference to Loro.

The third race, an extended sprint for starter’s allowance foes, marks the return of #3 Thunder Canyon, away since Del Mar but training like he’s fit and ready for Hess. He beat maiden claimers with a strong figure last summer while displaying the closing style that should be put to good use today at this seven furlong trip. #6 Footloose Freddie is a maiden tackling winners but is a fit on numbers and should at least outrun his odds. Use him somewhere in your exotics. #7 Siempre Mio crushed state bred maiden allowance foes recently with a nice figure and with further improvement he should be hard to beat right back, We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics and then press a bit with Siempre Mio on top.

#3 Farmer Giles looks well spotted in the fourth race and may be worth singling in rolling exotic play. The Heap-trained gelding exits a tougher first level allowance sprint down the hill and today stretches out to a more suitable trip against much more suitable competition. Garcia rides him back and should have this Heap-trained gelding on or near the lead throughout.

Bottom rung maiden claimers meet at seven furlongs in the fifth race and we’ll go three deep and feel pretty confident about it. #2 Afleet Cowboy makes his first start since April and has trained like a better type this time around. He’ll be a strong threat if he gets the patient ride he needs. #3 Outta Splash closed a gap in his debut vs. similar after a rough start and is another very likely better than shown. Garcia rides him back and should have him rolling late. #8 Crestatorre lands the cozy outside post after finishing in the money in three of his last four. He’s a 13 race maiden and lacks a winning punch but he’s likely to clunk up and participate in the exacta or trifecta at what should be a decent price. We’ll prefer Outta Splash but all three should be used in your rolling exotics.

A strong group of first level 3-year-old fillies sprint down the hill in the sixth race and this is another affair you may feel the need spread. #3 Batalha is back on turf and seems likely to return to good form for Avila. This downhill turf course should fit her perfectly and Garcia will have her within range throughout. #5 Byrama shortens up to a sprint and has the proper style for the course. Bejarano rides her back and will have her rolling late. #6 Caribaya Queen earned a career top figure when beating state bred company recently and should fit well in this open affair. She has good tactical speed and with another forward move could be dangerous right back.

Baffert has the comebacking Saddleranch ready to fire in his first start since last July and the speedy son of Vindication deserves top billing in the seventh race despite the layoff and rugged inside draw. He earned three huge figures last year; any one of which if repeated today would be good enough to get the money. We’ll prefer Saddleranch on top but also use #6 Luckarack, an excellent runner up in a blazing heat here last month and retaining Rosario. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.

Today’s feature race is named for one of the most prolific turf sprinter in Santa Anita history. Baffle was close to unbeatable down the hill during his career around these parts about 40 years ago. There aren’t any Baffle types in this field but #2 Stoney Fleece, #7 Brigand, and #9 Smoking G all have the credentials to be very dangerous Stoney Fleece should be most effective under these conditions and will be running on strongly late under Rosario. His third place effort in the Eddie Logan S. on New Year’s Eve was solid despite early trouble. #7 Brigand has been burning up the track in the morning for Baffert and seems plenty fit and ready. He was a good 2-year-old last year and should be even a better type in 2012. #9 Smokin G just graduated over this course and distance and did so in fast time while earning a sharp number. If he can turn in two alike he could take some catching. We’ll prefer Brigand but use all three in our rolling exotics.

The finale is a bottom rung claimer for fillies and mares and the two we’ll prefer are #3 All the Love and #5 Folk Dancer. The former drops to the bottom and may have found her friends today while the latter catches a modest pace scenario and could stick around for a long time.