Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Dec. 29, 2012)

Three of the main contenders in the Saturday opener exit the same race – the powerful maiden affair won by Flashback earlier this month at Hollywood Park. The best of the group would appear to be Mentor Cane, runner-up in that race after setting solid splits until worn down late. Bred to stay a middle distance for a trainer whose second time starters usually improve considerably, the son of Mizzen Mast likely be a short priced favorite to graduate. A nice, easy, half mile recent drill should have him on edge.

Key Reversal beats his competition in the second race with a repeat of his sharp maiden claiming score two runs back over this track. Freshened since mid November and working well since for Sadler, the Swiss Yodeler gelding retains Garcia and seems the solid choice. We’ll also include Hodge, a class dropper exiting a productive heat and switching to Maldonado while landing the cozy outside post. He’s won on this track in the past and has back numbers that can win.

We’ll go three deep in the third race, a moderate maiden claiming sprint for juvenile fillies. Silent Streak is a first timer with an okay work tab for O’Neill and may deserve inclusion as a “stranger danger.” Miss Fun Run didn’t run badly in her debut vs. straight maidens and faces a considerably softer bunch today. It wouldn’t be surprising to see her control this race from start to finish. Boller Bomb is another class dropper with a right to run well in this company. She has a few back figures that would win and with the switch to Bejarano she looks very live for Avila. Let’s give the edge on top to Miss Fun Run.

The fourth race looks like another spread affair, as you would expect from a downhill turf dash for state bred maiden fillies and mares. Marcyjane ran okay in a pair of turf sprints during the autumn meeting and should be a late factor with the switch to Bejarano. She’s only had three starts so there’s still some room for improvement. Angel’s Moon, away since June but training sharply for Headley, has plenty of zip but always has been vulnerable under pressure in the final furlong. There’s a chance she might fire a big shot fresh and get brave if she can shake loose early. Three Blondes is another dangerous layoff runner with a comfortable outside post and enough tactical speed to secure a good stalking position. She’s run well for Garcia in the past and there’s no reason she shouldn’t sprint as well as she’s routed.

Pink Lollipop is partial to this main track (all three of her wins have come at Santa Anita) and although she must leave from the rail in today’s fifth race, the Baffert-trained filly looks dangerous in a field not overloaded with intense early speed. Going for a Spin has been a middle distance performer much of her career but may have found her niche as a late-running sprinter following a clever score across town in the Cat’s Cradle vs. state breds. She’ll be running on strongly late. Teddy’s Promise was cooked in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint; this obviously is a much easier task and she should stick around a long time on or near the lead. She won the La Brea Stakes over this track last year so you know she’s good enough. Let’s put Going for a Spin on top while using all three in our rolling exotics.

Rising Legend impressed in his U.S. debut, rallying strongly but too late when second to Den’s Legacy in the Generous S. If he moves forward at all in the Eddie Logan Stakes, he’ll be tough. Gabriel Charles may have found a home on turf; his win in the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint Prevue was superb. We don’t see any reason he won’t get at least a mile. We’ll double the race while preferring Gabriel Charles on top.

The seventh race is an excellent entry level allowance sprint for fillies and mares. My Philly Girl earned a huge number when earning her diploma in her second career start earlier this month and if she moves forward at all she’ll be a factor right back. We’re expecting her to be a threat from off the pace. Dress the Part is another high figure maiden winner from Hollywood Park and it may be significant that Gomez chooses her over My Philly Girl. With a bullet workout since raced, the daughter of Malibu Moon seems sure to move forward. Tiz the Tide was scratched yesterday for this spot and the Baffert-trained filly has proven winning form over the Santa Anita main track. She’s a little light in the speed figure department but she continues to look good in the morning and is another with plenty of upside. We’ll triple the race in our rolling exotics while pressing a bit with Dress the Part on top.

The Daytona Stakes brings back Great Mills, who ran as well as he could on BC day, finishing a close fourth while remaining a strong threat until deep stretch. Clearly, this is an easier spot and the Asmussen-trained colt looks very much like the one to beat. Circa’sgoldengear doesn’t match up well in the class department with Great Mills but he’s a proven course specialist and always gives his best. The Heap-trained gelding has an ideal pace prompting style and seems like a logical exacta partner with ‘Mills.

Hidden Blessing can be relied on for an honest effort and should fire another big shot in the finale, a bottom rung sprint. He gets a break of a couple of pounds while retaining Talamo; the main concern is that he’s clearly more effective at six furlongs that he is at this extended trip. Half Dome Dude, our top pick in the race, drops again in class and looks like the one to beat at this level. The Sadler-trained gelding has plenty of back numbers that would crush this field; we’re just hoping he has at least one good one left in him.