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.
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.
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.
8TH Race - #5 REGALLY READY
This is unquestionably a huge step up in class for this newly-turned 4-year-old but his placement in this graded stakes turf sprint by Asmussen can be taken as a sign of confidence. The son of More Than Ready (a terrific turf sire) was finally given a chance to try the lawn and he certainly made the most of it, demolishing a second level allowance field by almost eight lengths at Churchill Downs while earning a career top 102 Beyer figure. This field isn’t overloaded with early zip, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see this gelding on the front end under Rosario. If he’s as good as we think he is, Regally Ready can score right back, although we wouldn’t dive in too deeply if he leaves at anything less than his morning line of 3-1. Contenders include #1 Dance with Gable, unbeaten in three starts down the hill and fresh from a facile overnight win at Hollywood Park, and #6 Quick Enough, also with proven winning form over this unique course and retaining P. Val.
9th Race - #14 TWO VIOLINS
Phoenix invader finished a sharp second to the red hot Point Attended in a competitive sprint at Turf Paradise last month and if he turns in that kind of effort on the big circuit he’ll be in the battle throughout. The Metz-trained gelding lands Gomez, should have clear sailing outside and has a touch of quality (first or second in 13 of 25 career starts). At 9/2 on the morning line he represents sufficient value to back him in the straight pool as well as the exotics. The one to fear most is #3 Café Con Leche, a sharp dropper in the O’Neill barn who retains Pedroza following a career top (81) Beyer performance two weeks ago at Hollywood Park. In fact, he has plenty of back numbers than could win this bottom rung affair.
3rd Race - #8 CANDY FOR PASEANA
Candy Ride gelding returns to California after breaking his maiden at Turf Paradise in a fairly strong effort, and we suspect he’ll fit very nicely in this restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claiming affair. He lands Bejarano and should have enough tactical speed to draft into a favorable pace stalking or pace prompting position. On numbers he’s right there and with any kind of improvement he can pull off a mild surprise. Listed at 6-1 on the morning line and offering value at anywhere near that price, the Diodoro-trained gelding should be used in the exotics with the two other main contenders in the field, #1 Royal Import (decent number when finally breaking his maiden and leaving from the good inside post) and #4 Dontmesroundwitjim (first off the claim for Mitchell, working well, switches to Talamo and might be the speed of the speed).
6th Race – #2 HEY MARIA
Juvenile filly swings back to action for good trainer Gaines following a nearly four month vacation and could very well be a much better type this time around. Flashed promising speed in a pair of Del Mar races last summer and was well-backed in both, so she’s always been fairly well regarded. Recent workouts have been impressive and give indication that she’s ready to fire off the bench. At 6-1 on the morning line, she’s an attractive straight play and a “must use” in the rolling exotics. If you’re play exactas or trifectas, also consider #6 Rumor, a first timer from the Mandella barn with a series of promising drills for a barn that does well with debut runners, and #7 Blazing Along, fourth in the Anoakia Stakes in October and back with maidens today following a typical sharp series of workouts for Baffert.
4TH Race - #3 OFFLEE WILD BOYS
Freshened since October but training like he’s fit and ready, the Peter Miller-trained gelding has the ideal style for this extended sprint distance and seems primed for another winning effort. He has enough tactical speed to be within striking range throughout and Gomez should have him along in plenty of time. At 2-1 on the morning line and likely to go lower, Offlee Wild Boys probably won’t offer a whole lot of value in the straight pool but remains a logical rolling exotic single.
4TH Race - #6 EARNEDNEVERGIVEN
Genuine and consistent and never sharper for Machowsky, this veteran gelding lands the cozy outside post in this seven furlong sprint and should draft into a perfect pace prompting or stalking position. He achieved a career top speed figure in his most recent win, has trained in exceptional manner since and should be set for another forward move today. In a race lacking in intense speed, Flores has all the options and may take command early if the situation allows. At 7/2 on the morning line, Earnednevergiven offers excellent value both as a straight play and as a rolling exotic single.
1st Race - #3 SCHUYLKILL PUNCH
This Mulhall-trained colt showed ability when second in his racing debut in a similar high priced maiden claimer at Hollywood Park in October and verified that effort when a better-than-looked sixth (beaten 4 ½ lengths) in a much tougher straight maiden sprint in his most recent outing. Juvenile son of Officer has worked nicely since that race, retains Espinoza, and won’t have to improve much at all to earn his diploma in a race that pretty much boils down to the two morning line favorites. #2 Polished Nickel, first off the claim for Walsh, has credentials as well, but Schuylkill Punch may have tad more early speed and could get the jump on his main rival. We’ll take anything close to his 2-1 morning line odds and make him a solid rolling exotic single.
4th Race - #2 AWESOME PATRIOT
A promising juvenile colt by Awesome Again, this Baffert-trained colt gets a chance around two turns for the first time and he sprints like he’ll thoroughly enjoy the added ground. A game third while under pressure along the rail in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes last month, Awesome Patriot tries a tough and competitive first level allowance field today but with a strong seven furlong work in 1:25 2/5 under his belt over this track, he should be set for a major forward move. He’s third choice on the morning line at 3-1 and represents excellent straight and rolling exotic value at that price.