Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sun., Apr. 22, 2012)

Maiden 3-year-old fillies meet on turf at a mile in the closing day opener. #5 Lady Ten is overdue for a win and may have finally found a field she can beat. Her numbers are rising and she seems the solid choice. Stranger danger comes from #6 Playful Humor. She’s trained well for Drysdale, gets Rosario, and has more than enough of a foundation to be fit and ready for a big effort.

The second race marks the return of Gun Boat, last seen finishing an excellent fourth (beaten a length) in the Del Mar Futurity after pressing the pace throughout. He’s trained well enough for Baffert to be fit for his comeback and having won his debut he’s proven he can fire fresh. It all adds up to a likely winner at even more or less.

We’ll double the third race, a downhill turf sprint for first level allowance fillies and mares. #4 Deity, second in both of her local outings, looks logical with Rosario riding her back and seems the likely controlling speed in the field. However, she’s been worn down late in both of her recent runner-up efforts and may not be entirely trustworthy. We’ll use her, but also include the comebacking #8 Schiaparelli, a first-out winner at Hollywood Park last summer before being turned out. She’s been impressive in the morning for Puype (strong with layoff runners) and should enjoy an ideal pace prompting trip under Talamo.

The fourth race is a restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claiming sprint with the main contention drawn inside. #1 Storming Kentucky is a sharp Bay Area invader with competitive figures for a high percentage trainer and gets Bejarano. He should be quick enough from his inside post to make the running. #2 Meadow Road has two good races following a layoff and probably has another forward move in him. He’s even money on the morning line while Storming Kentucky is the 8/5 second choice; there’s certainly not much to work with here.

A fairly competitive $25,000 claiming turf mile for fillies and mares begins the pick-6 sequence in the fifth race and big ticket players are likely to spread (don’t forget, there’s a mandatory payoff today). #1 Halfapondarosa comes off a clever score at this level sprinting on the main track but she’s unproven around two turns and on turf. Still, her sharp recent form has to be respected, so we’ll use her. #7 Sizzling Gold continues to impress in the morning. She likes to win races and rates a look despite the rather substantial class hike. #8 Van Brit returns to her winning level for hot trainer Cerin and is strictly the one to beat. She’s won a seven of 12 outings over this turf course and Blanc really gets along with her.

The sixth race is a bottom rung maiden claiming router that should be made to order for #7 Turn On the Pumps. He’s a first-time-in-a-claimer play for Gaines and makes a major jockey switch to Rosario after a sprint prep vs. tougher last month. The son of Kitten’s Joy has little to beat and at 9/5 on the morning line looks like a legitimate rolling exotic single.

A strong second level allowance race on turf occupies the seventh race. #1 Barney Rebel missed by a neck in a sharp U.S. debut last month and has worked well since, so he could easily move forward. He retains bug boy Flores, lands the good rail, and should be forwardly placed throughout. #4 Fire With Fire missed by a neck in his recent comeback (and local debut) for Drysdale, retains Rosario, and seems very likely to improve. He’s the morning line favorite at 9/5 and deserves to be. #6 Megastar, freshened for a couple of months and good enough to pose a serious threat with his best race, retains Talamo for good trainer Ellis and should at least get a piece of it.

The eighth race is a maiden claiming state bred sprint for $40,000 types and offers a possible single in #8 Bringon the Wain. The Sherlock-trained gelding shows up for a tag for the first time, has the benefit of a good outside post (after breaking from the rail in his last pair) and doesn’t really have a whole lot to beat. We’ll be somewhat surprised if Krigger doesn’t have him on the front end throughout.

The traditional closing day feature, the mile and three-quarter San Juan Capistrano, should be easy pickings for course specialist #2 Bourbon Bay. A winner of six of eight lifetime over the local lawn, the Drysdale-trained gelding returned to winning form with an excellent score in the San Luis Rey Stakes last month and though he’s picking up four lbs. off that win it should not make much of a difference. He’s 6/5 on the morning line and looks every bit of that.

The finale is a modest maiden claimer for $30,000 3-year-olds that probably requires a spread. We’ll try to survive using #8 Sheriff Ryan (a class dropper with a sharp recent drill); #9 Midnight Con (a nine race maiden but a solid fit on speed figures); and #12 Very Unusual (tackling much easier while turning back from a route to a sprint and returning to the main track). Feel free to go deeper if you can afford to.

See you in the fall!