Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., March 10, 2012)

An outstanding Saturday program begins with a middle distance maiden claimer for older horses and finds #5 Cook Inlet listed as the even money favorite. He has that first-time-in-a-claimer angle working for him and speed figures that tower over the field. It’s hard to envision him getting beat, but at this price, who really cares.

The second race is much more interesting. #2 No Silent flashed promise in an excellent debut down the hill in late January, finishing strongly and galloping out like a freight train in a fast, highly-rated affair. He’s worked well since for Gary Mandella and seems sure to improve a ton with experience and with added distance. At the price we like him a bit better than the logical favorite, #6 Brother Francis, still a maiden despite having placed in two graded stakes as a two-year-old. He returns for Cassidy with a recent bullet six furlong work, and his action suggests he’ll enjoy the switch to turf. Both should be used in rolling exotic play; we’ll have a few extra tickets with No Silent on top.

The third race is a bottom rung claiming sprint for fillies and mares and probably requires a spread in rolling exotic play. #2 Flower Power plummets in class for her first start since New Year’s Day and her recent work tab isn’t what you’d call inspiring, but Pedroza knows her well and in this league she must be respected. #3 Five Star Cruise is a Bay Area invader with that Tapeta-to-dirt angle working for her and this is her lowest level ever. The Hollendorfer-trained filly gets brave when she can make the lead and she might be quick enough to do just that in this soft spot. #5 Folk Dancer just won at this level while straight as a string and didn’t earn much of a figure in the process. She does know how to win and always has liked this track, so you probably should respect her enough to toss her in somewhere.

We’re looking at two major contenders in the fourth race, a starter’s allowance mile affair on turf. #3 Relentless Heat beat state bred maidens down the hill recently and today tries two turns for the first time. The son of Unusual Heat should handle the extra ground and probably has further improvement in him in what will be just his seventh lifetime outing. #7 Joburg Star crushed a bottom rung maiden claiming field sprinting on the main track last month and if he can project that form two turning on turf he’ll be dangerous right back. Preference goes to Relentless Heat.

Restricted $12,500 claiming milers meet in the fifth race and we’ll go three deep and hope that’s enough. #2 Megaride is a one-paced grinder but is a fit on figures and seems to at least be a trier. He should settle in the second flight and then make whatever run he’s capable of in the final furlong. #3 Jim’s Decision is unproven around two turns but gets a massive break in the weights and is a fit in the speed figure department. He’s worth tossing in. #5 Seek the Light returns to his claim level for Carava and ran well enough earlier in this meeting when third at this level to warrant a close look, especially with Rosario riding him back.

The sixth race is a competitive entry level allowance dash down the hill and we’re focusing on three horses exiting the same race. #2 Mr. Make Believe, a sharp runner up under identical conditions last month, will be making just his sixth career start and certainly has room for growth and development. Pedroza stays aboard for Mandella and will have this son of Rock Hard Ten rolling in the final furlong. Le Mans, eighth but beaten less than four lengths in that common Feb. 11 sprint, ran into a roadblock inside the furlong pole and lost all of his momentum. He wouldn’t have won with a clean trip but he would have been closer, no doubt. The best part about his effort was the gallop-out; the Asmussen-trained son of Warm Front figures to be dangerous in the final furlong, especially if he breaks cleanly today and can settle in the second flight. #10 Kumiva pressed the pace and held on with determination in that same Feb. 11 affair and has every right to improve in this, his second off the layoff for top trainer Gaines. He lands a good outside post and should be on or near the lead throughout. Let’s give Le Mans a slight edge but use all three in rolling exotic play.

Today’s seventh race is a hot maiden abbreviated sprint for 3-year-old fillies. #5 My Selection was an $80,000 purchase last year in Ocala and finally makes it to the post for Baffert following a series of typically fast and impressive workouts. She should come out flying. #8 Marinda has worked like a nice sort for Hollendorfer (strong with debut runners) and seems extremely well meant under Bejarano. She’s 6-1 on the morning line and represents value at anything close to that price. Both should be included in your rolling exotics.

The eighth race, the China Doll at one mile on turf, is the first of the afternoon’s stakes races and brings together several very promising and talented fillies. #2 Lady of Shamrock flunked her main track test so she’s back on the grass where she belongs. A repeat of her clever Blue Northern Stakes score in late December would make her the one to beat today. #3 Indigo River won the Sweet Life Stakes down the hill last month for Mullins and then galloped out like she wanted to run another mile or so. She gets her chance today and we’re expecting her to make the most of it. #4 Graser won a fairly decent first level allowance race over this course and distance last month and switches to Bejarano. She should be on or near the lead most of the way and probably is worth including on a few of your rolling exotic tickets.

The big race – the San Felipe for Derby-aged colts – goes as the ninth race and gives us a chance to see if the recent eye opening maiden winner #2 Bodemeister is for real. The difficulty of his task may be decided by whether or not #3 American Act makes it to the starting gate (his connections were considering scratching yesterday in lieu of a trip to New Mexico for the Sunland Park Derby). If American Act defects, the front end belongs to Bodemeister and he’ll probably never look back given that type of trip. However, if American Act starts, the pace should be considerably quicker and that could set things up for #7 Creative Cause, the beaten San Vicente Stakes favorite who appeared rusty when third but won’t have that excuse today. Long shot players should examine closely the credentials of #1 Blingo. From the same people that brought you Zenyatta, this gelding has had but two runs in his career, a very impressive maiden score on turf at Hollywood Park and a better-than-looked sixth (beaten less than three lengths) in the Cash Call Futurity. He’s been burning up the track in the morning for Shirreffs and his closing kick would be complimented to the max if a hot pace develops. Use him somewhere in rolling exotic play.

The finale is a below average maiden claiming sprint that likely requires a spread. #4 Zander adds blinkers for his second career outing and may be a bit better than his speed/fade act made him look in his only outing in January. The Belvoir stable has superb stats with second time starters. #7 Already There was a modest third in a slightly stronger affair last month and earned a pretty nice number in the process, all things considered. He gets a break in the weights with the switch to bug boy Flores and should be doing his best work from off the pace. #10 Dr. Evil chased much tougher foes last summer at Del Mar and returns in a modest spot with a decent series of drills for Glatt. Toss him in. And you should also make room for #11 Warrens’ Wesley, a distant fourth in a fast, highly-rated and productive heat won by The Black (who came back to win again) last month. Warren’s Wesley lands the cozy outside post, switches to Bejarano and looks very much like the best of the pace types.