Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Oct. 19, 2013)

A massive $230,199 Pick-6 carryover adds considerable intrigue to a challenging nine race Saturday program.

The opener doesn’t offer much unless you’re trainer Peter Miller, who saddles two of the five starters in this maiden $75,000 claiming sprint for juveniles. Both fillies - #1 Red Barris and #3 Sergeant O’Rourke – have done enough good work in the morning to indicate ability and both probably should be included in rolling exotic play. Suffice to say there are better opportunities later on in the program.

The second race is a downhill maiden dash that looks ripe for comebacking #7 The Cleaners. Well-beaten in his only start almost a year ago, he returns for Machowsky with a healthy series of drills and attracts Bejarano. We have a strong hunch that this City Zip gelding – purchased for $170,000 as a two year old – is a whole lot better than shown and catches what appears to be a below par field for the level.

Two tough sprinters meet in the third race, a six furlong dash for bottom-rungers. #5 Private Bounty, second off a claim for Mitchell, exits a strong, productive race and won’t have to improve much at all to beat this field. He’s looked good in a couple of easy breezes since raced. #4 Broadway Nika, freshened since July, surfaces cheap for a stable that does quite well with layoff runners. He has back numbers that make him a major player.

#4 Olympic Blue was overmatched in the Del Mar Derby in his last outing but he isn’t today in this starter’s allowance affair that kicks off the Pick-6 sequence. The Hollendorfer-trained gelding switches to Bejarano, and should be on or near the lead throughout. #3 Lord Vronsky is tough-as-nails gelding and likely will draft into a good second flight position. The connections don’t win all that often but this gelding certainly does.

The fifth race is an extended sprint for $20,000 claimers and may require a spread. The three we’ll prefer are, in order of preference, #7 Chicsdigtheshark, #5 McKenzies Way, and #1 Newfound Gold. Chicsdigtheshark appears to be off form but Spawr hasn’t given up on him so we won’t, either. He’s always loved this track, lands the favorable outside post, and continues to look good in the morning. McKenzies Way entices Bejarano and should be a late threat. Newfound Gold drops below his claim price and should be forwardly placed from the rail. He’s finished in the money 23 of 28 lifetime starts.

#1 Field Report has been a money burner much of his career and certainly isn’t one to trust, but he has the perfect style for this downhill course and switches to Bejarano in the sixth race. The Spawr-trained gelding continues to impress in the morning and his numbers are better than par. We like him on top but whether he’s dependable enough to be a single is another matter.

The seventh race is a $50,000 claiming sprint restricted to 3-year-olds and boils down to two main contenders. #2 Derringer was in too tough in a recent hot allowance dash but this much softer spot should get him back on track. The Mitchell-trained colt switches to Garcia and should be on or near the lead throughout. #9 Summer Exclusive surfaces for a tag for the first time – a tad suspiciously, perhaps – but has numbers that make him a strong threat and he should have every chance from his comfortable outside post. He broke his maiden over this surface in his debut last March.

The featured California Flag Handicap for state-breds sprinting down the hill should showcase #7 Ain’t No Other, narrowly beaten by subsequent Grade 1 winner Private Zone in an all-weather stakes at Del Mar last month. He’s just as effective if not more so on turf, and gets ideal conditions today while being reunited with Bejarano, who has won twice with him in the past. There’s value here at 7/2 on the morning line. Also worth tossing in is #9 Strong Wind, a consistent late-running sprinter who should adore this unique Hillside course.

The nightcap is a maiden claiming state bred mile affair for juvenile fillies; pretty much anything goes. #5 Water Issues sprints like she wants to run long and has trained well enough of late to expect improvement stretching out. #9 She’s Flush has a steadily improving pattern for Sherlock and could be on the lead under P. Val. The pedigree suggests she’ll handle the extra ground.