Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thu., Feb. 14, 2013

The Thursday program ushers in a five day race week, culminating with a special racing on Monday, President’s day.

Hodge exits a hot race, shortens up a furlong and looks like the controlling speed in today’s first race. Talamo rides him back and the Machowsky-trained gelding will be tough in a weak affair. Time to Doubledown will be bearing down in the lane and is the one to fear most. He’s a fit on figures and goes from the rail to the outside. Both should be used in rolling exotic play; we’ll give a very slight edge to Hodge.

Lilly’s Perfect earned a nice figure in her recent Bay Area score and a repeat of that race, or her nice score two runs back, should be good enough to extend her winning streak to three in the second half of the early daily double. Gomez will have settled early and then doing her best work late. Folk Dancer looks clearly like the controlling speed and if not pressured early she’ll take this field a very long way. Let’s give Lilly’s Perfect a bit of an edge but use both in our rolling exotic play.

We find the third race simply too difficult; we’ll use four in our rolling exotics and hope that’s enough. Marinda joins the Mandella barn and returns to turf; she ran well on grass at Hollywood Park last summer and gets Bejarano. With back figures that can win, she looks tough. Fantastic Mizz, second in her last pair, shortens up in trip and her speed figures continue to steadily rise. Blanc should have her on or near the lead throughout. Bromedia, second in a similar affair last month, retains Leparoux and clearly won’t have to improve much to win. Swingaway launches a comeback for Kruljac and has hit the board in all three of her lifetime outings, each of which came down this Hillside course last year.

In the fourth race, Wine Stock is a first timer from the Baffert barn debuting in a moderate high priced claimer and looks fit and ready at first asking. He’s realistically spotted and if he leaves cleanly from the rail, the son of Johannesburg may win at first asking. Shackbamalama, a second time starter from the Pender barn, was an okay third in his debut against slightly softer foes and has every right to improve with experience while retaining Pedroza. Lord of Ballandrae drops into a high priced claimer, shortens up, switches to the main track and continues to flash ability in the morning. We’ll be surprise if he’s not a whole lot better than shown. We’ll use all three in rolling exotic play; Lord of Ballandrae is quite intriguing so we’ll give him top billing.

The fifth race, a restricted turf claimer has little depth to it; we’ll go two-deep without a strong degree of confidence. Lite That Baby Up is a one-paced grinder but at nine furlongs he should be tough and he did earn a career top number when a close fifth over this course two runs back. Bejarano stays aboard and that’s a positive sign. Ain’s only win came over this turf course a couple of years ago and a recent fourth place effort in a slightly stronger field when beaten only a length indicates he’s approaching his winning form. We’re expecting Leparoux to have him along in time.

In the sixth race, Rossie Reserve is wheeled back in a week by new trainer Belvoir (superior stats with first-off-the-claims) and though beaten as the choice last time out she seems capable of making amends today. Never worse than second in four starts over this track, the veteran mare has won a third of her 24 career outings and is back with Espinoza, who has won with her in the past. This is one of those single or spread races; use a bunch if you prefer to employ the latter strategy.

Best Present Ever had no chance in the Valentine Dancer Stakes; toss the race out and in today’s seventh race key on her strong runner-up try on Cal Cup Day during the Autumn meeting. She switches to Bejarano and should draft into an ideal pace prompting position. Curvy Cat switches to Talamo, tries turf for the first time and is a route-to-sprint play from a cozy outside post. She looks dangerous from off the pace. We’ll double the race in our rolling exotics while preferring Best Present Ever on top.

Friends With Macy ran well in a maiden claimer in her debut, was overmatched in straight maiden company last time, and in today’s nightcap returns to her proper level. She’s also shortening up in trip while switching to Krigger and really doesn’t have a whole lot to beat. Rather than spread this open affair, we’ll take a stand and single Friends With Macy in our rolling exotics.