Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thur., March 15, 2012)

The Thursday early daily double is comprised of two five-runner fields but in the spirit of March Madness we can say that there is no slam dunk in either race.

In the opener, #1 A Jealous Man took full advantage of a “lone f” trip to beat a slightly lesser field with a good figure but she might have some company up front today. However, she’s won from off the pace in the past so Blanc can play it by ear. #2 Capital Plan is a perfect one-for-one on this course and will appreciate a patient ride from Rosario. The projected pace scenario of this race that will compliment her late running style makes her the one to beat.

The second race offers a rematch between #2 Maui Mark and #4 Position A, one-two finishers in a similar $20,000 claiming sprint last month. Maui Mark goes for new trainer Glatt and will be tough to catch again unless Bay Area shipper #1 Goggles McCoy can apply pressure early on. Position A will fold into a ready-to-pounce position, as will #3 Quietly Mine, a solid fit on numbers and eligible to improve with the switch to Rosario. This is a fairly salty race despite the field size and other than #5 Bonboni they all have some kind of look.

The Pick-6 begins in the third race, a competitive downhill turf sprint restricted to 4-year-olds. #1 Bluegrass Reward is an intriguing class dropper for Mitchell; he’s been routing most of his life and chasing much tougher so a form reversal is possible. #4 Metropolitan Man won over this course in late December but hasn’t been seen since; he returns on the raise for Cerin and has been looking extra sharp in the morning of late so we’re expecting a big run from a gelding with a history of firing big off layoffs. #7 Mr. Candy Bar has the route-to-sprint, class dropper angle just like Bluegrass Reward and should be doing his best work from off the pace. #6 Golden Bounty has been working up a storm for Walsh for his first start since October and will be dangerous if he can project his main track form to turf. Small ticket players might consider taking a stand and singling our top pick, Metropolitan Man.

The fourth race finds #3 Admission listed at 6/5 on the morning line. At first glance he doesn’t appear to have the kind of recent form that warrants such a short price, but when you consider the strength of the opposition – or lack thereof – you can see why the Puype-trained colt appears to be a standout. Although exiting first level allowance events, he’s actually been facing stakes quality competition and this drop to starter’s allowance company is monumental. On numbers he’s a total standout.

A full field of high priced maiden claimers clash in the fifth race, a difficult affair that offers a melting pot of class droppers, class risers and lightly-raced 3-year-olds trying turf for the first time. #5 Rocket Train drops in for a tag while switching to Rosario; he’s certainly a fit at this level and draws a much better post today after being stuck in the 10 hole vs. straight maidens last time out. Mitchell’s other entrant, #10 Our Merv, is the 9/5 morning line favorite after exiting a very hot downhill turf sprint. He’s stretching out for the first time and removing blinkers while retaining Talamo and if he negotiates some kind of decent trip from his outside draw he’ll be the one to beat. #11 Gabbro Glitz also is stuck way outside but has an improving pattern and a recent bullet blowout for Mulhall, so at 6-1 he’s probably worth considering as well. We’ll put Our Merv on top but this a race that bigger ticket Pick-6 players likely will spread.

The sixth race has a logical pick-6 single, #8 Chimi Dee. A promising runner up while more than six clear of the others in her debut, the daughter of Decarchy is a standout on figures, and while she’s very likely to improve with a race under her belt, she may not even have to. That’s why she’s 4/5 on the morning line.

Today’s feature is a state bred entry level allowance affair at a mile on turf that provides #4 Kingpin Ryno with a chance to make amends for missing as the favorite in a similar event last month. The In Excess gelding actually earned a career top number in defeat, so he actually ran well, and a similar effort today probably will be good enough. Espinoza has the option of sitting behind the likely pacesetter, #8 Tricky Mandate, and then pouncing when it counts. Tricky Mandate is a need-the-lead type and though exiting a $25,000 restricted claimer deserves some consideration for having earned a competitive figure in his first off-the-claim for Belvoir. If not respected he’ll take them a long way. #9 Valley Cat might be the most dangerous of the deep closers and Bejarano rides him back. He’s finished in the money in 10 of 14 career outings so you have to at least use him somewhere underneath.

The finale is a restricted $12,500 sprint for older fillies and mares and has two main contenders as we see it. #9 Coparcenary is a strong fit on numbers and is lightly raced and eligible for another forward move. She likes to settle and make a run and should be doing her best work in the final furlong. The filly she might have to catch is #11 Tiabelle, who switches to Rosario, lands a cozy outside post and very likely will show improved early speed today. A nice recent half mile breeze should have her on edge.