Horse Racing Tips from a Top Race Handicapper

Horse owner, breeder and HRTV analyst Jeff Siegel also happens to be Southern California's premier handicapper. Check his blog each day before you play!

Handicapping, in short, refers to analyzing the race to come up with best predicted outcome, or pick. There are many angles when it comes to picking a winner. Using some of the help from the professional handicappers below, you can determine your own angle on placing a bet. For more information on how to bet or wager, click here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 10:06
5th Race - #5 CADAZZLE x #6 RICKETYRACKETYRUSS x 8 WORKING AT NIGHT

Cadazzle is an intriguing invader from New York making her local debut for Proctor and the works say she’s fit and ready. Her best race was her first, so we’ll assume she can fire fresh, and if she can transfer her Saratoga form to this hillside course she can earn her diploma in a race that we’d also use Ricketyracketyruss and Working At Night. The former missed by a head in her turf debut two-turning at Hollywood Park last month and she should have no difficulty shortening up and repeating that performance today. A bullet :46 flat half for Sadler indicates she has further improvement in her and Rosario stays aboard. The latter has improving speed figures for Mullins and with another forward move the daughter of Tiznow should be in the thick of things throughout. We’ll use all three in all of our rolling exotics and in exacta and trifecta boxes as well. And if we can get close to the 4-1 morning line odds, we’ll play a few extra tickets on Cadazzle.

6th Race - #8 SKELLYTOWN
Ex-classer returned to winning form on opening day with a brave score in a three-horse driving finish and seems quite capable of a repeat win against a moderate bottom-rung field. Didn’t get the clearest of runs when attempting to rally into the lane but surged late to get the money in a race that already has proven to be productive. Skellytown clearly has his issues and this drop in class off a win raises a red flag, but if he has one more good one left the veteran Thunder Gulch gelding can come right back under Espinoza. Under the circumstances, his 3-1 morning line odds seems worth taking and we’ll single him in our rolling exotics as well.



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Sunday, January 9, 2011 - 10:28
8th Race - #1 He’s a Dance Star Lightly-raced gelding returns to the main track and is a perfect one-for-one on dirt, having scored in his debut in a Fairplex Park maiden race. Making his second start since switching from the Warren barn to the Sadler stable, the son of Perfect Mandate has plenty of room for further improvement following a good third place effort despite some trouble on turf against a similar first level state bred allowance field last month at Hollywood Park. He lands the rail again, but at this extended sprint trip he should have plenty of opportunity to find suitable room for his late kick. In a below par field for the level, Gomez should have He’s a Dance Star along in time.

9th Race - #2 Seeking the Queen x #6 Fairway Road Speedy California-bred filly catches a very favorable pace scenario in this first level allowance sprint down the hill for fillies and mares and appears capable of controlling this race from start to finish. After hopping in the air at the start in a similar spot over the Hollywood Park lawn last month, the daughter of Sought After rushed up to make the pace and continued strongly until deep stretch before weakening to wind up third. Let’s hope she leaves cleanly today under Talamo and keeps on going. Also worth using in the exotics is #6 Fairway Road, first off the claim for good trainer Peter Miller and fresh from a sharp main track romp vs. $20,000 sellers last month. She can handle the turf as well and appears the one Seeking the Queen must fear most.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011 - 10:42
4th Race - #6 Gladiatrix

Trainer Bob Baffert seems to be winning with everything he sends out and he looks to have this Invisible Ink filly well spotted for a maiden diploma. She flashed very good speed in a straight maiden dash during the Oak Tree at Hollywood Park in October before fading and winding up off the board, but she figures to stick much better in this high priced maiden claimer. A series of recent strong workouts should have her primed and ready and with little to beat, Gladiatrix seems capable of controlling this race from start to finish. For exacta players, consider #3 River’s Mambo, another first-time-in-a-claimer play who continues to look good morning preps. She actually finished ahead of Gladiatrix in a common race Oct. 15 and her recent workouts indicate she may be better than shown.

6th Race - #4 Mr Tokyo
Genuine and consistent, this Lloyd-trained colt has shown a liking for this turf course and should fire another big shot today. His good tactical speed should keep him free of trouble, and Nakatani figures to have him along in time. At 3-1 on the morning line, the son of Freespool offers value in the straight pool as well as the rolling exotics. He’s a single in our book.

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Friday, January 7, 2011 - 10:26
6th Race - #4 Excessively Trick
Quick daughter of In Excess tried to make a right hand turn in her debut soon after the start, was straightened to quickly establish the pace in hand, accelerated into the lane, then weakened late and wound up off the board in her debut at Hollywood Park in November. She’s returned to work very well since that race for Koriner and shortens up a half furlong, so if she moves forward at all she could be tough to deny. There’s a fast filly (#3 Rolling Tide) drawn inside her, so she may be asked to stalk rather than lead; Rosario rides her back so he’ll have the option. Excessively Trick represents value at 5-1 on the morning line and in a field lacking in known late speed we’ll make her a straight play and a rolling exotic single.

8th Race - #6 Brite Dreamer x #7 Merlin Z
In a soft maiden claiming sprint for state bred juveniles, Brite Dreamer and Merlin Z have a right to win, so we’ll use them both in all of our rolling exotics and exactas and trifectas as well. Brite Dreamer is a first time starter for good trainer Marty Jones and has trained well enough to act at this level. He’s been given a solid foundation and should be plenty fit; the known element isn’t overwhelming so a fresh face has a chance to make an impact. Merlin Z, our top selection in the race, showed some ability when tackling straight maidens last spring and summer and returns in a modest spot for Adam Kitchingman. A solid 1:13 flat gate work last month should have him fit enough, and with Bejarano taking the call the son of Marino Marini looks like a very live item.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 10:17
3rd Race - #4 Magic Launch x #8 Bella Roja

Both of these mares have proven winning form over the Santa Anita turf course and are tough to separate. We’d use them both in any rolling exotic and/or exactas you might want to play. Magic Launch is being wheeled back quickly by Palma, who claimed her a couple of weeks ago for $25,000 following a nice score at a mile, but the daughter of Cee’s Tizzy is equally effective sprinting and with should fire another big shot with P. Val riding her back. First or second in nine of 16 career starts, the veteran mare is thoroughly genuine and consistent. Bella Roja, most effective as a late-running turf sprinter, earned a solid speed figure when rallying from far back to beat a $32,000 claiming field last month at Hollywood Park and she’s won back-to-back races in the past, so we’ll assume she’s ready for another big effort. Bejarano stays aboard for O’Neill and the daughter of Hold That Tiger represents excellent value at 4-1 on the morning line.

5th Race - #7 Bitt a Heat
She recently returned off a six month layoff and performed nicely in a similar state bred maiden allowance affair, closing with interest against the grain to be third in a decent turf sprint. The Unusual Heat filly has run well two-turning in the past, so the added ground won’t be an issue, and with Gomez riding her back she looks like the logical pick in a below par field for the level. There’s not a lot of value to be had at 2-1 on the morning line, but the Paddy Gallagher-trained filly seems well worth considering as a rolling exotic single.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 23:57
4th Race - #3 Blue Jay Attack
Blue Jay Attack’s main rival – on either turf or the main track depending upon the weather – would appear to be the undefeated #8 Red Defense, and both should be used in exactas and rolling exotics, but we’ll slightly prefer the Marty Jones-trained colt at this extended sprint distance. A prototype late-running sprinter, the son of Tribal Rule earned a career top Beyer figure when missing by a nose in a similar spot over the Hollywood Park turf last time out but gets an extra half furlong to work with today and retains Bejarano. Red Defense, undefeated in three starts, catches a favorable pace scenario and is the logical choice and one to beat. Tough to separate them; we suggest you use them both on your carryover Pick-6 tickets.

7th Race - #1 Rummysecret War
Veteran gelding was razor sharp in beating a slightly lesser field a little more than a month ago at Hollywood Park and looks quite dangerous right back on the one level raise. Pedroza stays aboard, and the Carava-trained son of Sea of Secrets should have enough tactical speed to gain favorable early position from his inside draw. Turf Paradise invader #4 Point Attended got good in a hurry in Phoenix and is a fit on speed figures, but the concern is that the horse he beat last time out – Two Violins – was well-beaten in an $8,000 claimer yesterday at Santa Anita. We’ll still use the Diodoro-trained shipper, but we’ll prefer Rummysecret War on top and hope that he leaves at close to his 7/2 morning line odds. Both seem worth using on pick-6 tickets.

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