Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thu., March 29, 2012)

We’re into the final three weeks of the season beginning with a Thursday program that offers a few wagering opportunities, mostly in rolling exotics. As usual, short fields with heavy morning line favorites occupy the early portion of the card.

The opener is a $16,000 claiming sprint that finds #1 Tempted listed at even money pretty much by default. She exits a race at this level against older company and today finds a much easier band restricted to 4-year-olds only. Gomez should have her on the front end throughout but she’ll certainly be at underlay odds in a field of just five.

With the late scratching of #5 Lottawampum, the second race has been reduced to a five runner affair for older straight maiden fillies and mares. Certainly a strong case can be made for the likely short priced favorite, #6 Endless Fancy, beaten a nose in a similar race Feb. 2. The Baffert- trained daughter of Ghostzapper has well since that outing and is quite eligible to move forward. #4 Sister Esperanza could be the quickest in the field and with further improvement for Headley may prove tough to catch. There’s no value here unless you are confident enough to take a stand.

The Pick-6 begins in the third race, a restricted (nw-2) $25,000 turf claimer for fillies and mares. #7 Anna You’re Up seems like a progressive sort that has the style and pedigree to handle both the added distance and the switch to turf. Her numbers continue to rise as she gains experience and Talamo should have her comfortably placed in a pace prompting position. However, she’s 7/5 on the morning line, so unless you think you can beat her this is another race offering little-to-no value.

The fourth race is another non-winners-of-two claimer, this one for fillies and mares at the $12,500 level going a mile on the main track. #1 Belle Gallantey, listed at 8/5 on the morning line, is taking a rather substantial class drop while stretching out again; she hasn’t had any success two turning so far though against this group she appears to have a considerable edge in the speed figure department. The one to be concerned about is #5 Warren’s Hopeful, a first-off-the-claim play for Spawr (17% with a flat bet profit) that has looked sharp in the morning since joining her new barn. Yes, she’s 1-for-21 lifetime but that score came over this main track earlier this meeting and we – like everybody else – will assume that she will improve leaps and bounds based on nothing more than the trainer change.

A pretty nice group of 3-year-old maiden fillies sprint down the hill in the fifth race and you’ll probably need a spread in your rolling exotics to feel confident. #3 Perfecta enjoyed a perfect trip when missing by less than a length in her debut over this course in early January; though she was off the track for the entire month of February (no races or workouts) she’s trained well in recent weeks and has a right to move forward for Richard Mandella. #5 Sydney’s Darling earned a solid figure when third without mishap vs. similar in her last start; she’s another with a bit of room for improvement and is a strong contender. #7 Nihilist has been a tad disappointing so far for Sadler – she was beaten on the square when second at 4/5 last time out – but she continues to impress sin the morning and the switch to turf might be what she’s been looking for. #9 Swingaway will have her backers as well; she received no support (29-1) in her debut but was a good closing third under similar conditions March 3 and the Kruljac barn has a history of doing very well with second time starters. In a scramble, we’ll give slight preference to Nihilist for small ticket players.

Maiden claiming $30,000 3-year-old fillies sprint five and one-half furlongs in the sixth race. #2 Zenett, in her second start off a layoff and switching to Rosario, could get the bulk of the action after perhaps being a tad short when fourth vs. similar earlier this month. She’s inside speed in a field with a few others that like to bust out and go, so she’d better break well. #10 Vegas Rules likely will inherit a stalker’s roll outside and perhaps she’ll finish better today with that type of ride and trip from Talamo. Others worth noting are #6 Nifty Dream, a possible late threat should a pace meltdown ensue with the weight break and the switch to bug boy Flores, and #9 Arinyes Love, in the money in her last three with competitive numbers and switching to Krigger.

Today’s feature is a two-other-than affair at nine furlongs on turf and offers a logical rolling exotic single in #4 Holladay Road. Though his closing fourth place effort in the Santa Anita Handicap was somewhat race-shape aided, the veteran California-bred gelding still impressed with a willing late bid after falling far out of it early. He’ll be much closer early on today with the return to arguably his preferred surface – grass – and we’re expecting the Canani-trained veteran to make the most of the opportunity. One additional plus is that he’s back with Gomez, who has won with him in the past. However, there probably will be little to no value in the straight pool; he’s 9/5 on the morning line and could go lower.

The nightcap is a state bred maiden claiming sprint for $50,000 3-year-olds. #1 Alworth chased maiden special weight foes in his last start and was no factor and hugely disappointing; if he runs back to his fairly useful debut effort (out of which he was claimed for $40,000 by Craig Lewis) he’ll be dangerous. However, we’ve seen better 8/5 morning line favorites. #8 Bay Street is a first timer from the Pederson barn (solid with debut runners) and the reports from private clocker Andy Harrington are that he’s a pretty quick sort. If you’d like to go a bit deeper consider #10 Warren’s Nicholas, unplaced against straight maidens in his debut sprinting on turf at Hollywood Park in December but training well of late and likely to improve with this drop to the maiden claiming ranks.