Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Oct. 25, 2013)

A nice pick-6 carryover of $46,733 adds interest to the Friday eight race program. We’re one week out from the beginning of the two-day Breeders’ Cup festival.

The first race, a $16,000 claiming miler for fillies and mares, looks like an ideal spot for #3 Town Belle, who drops to her purchase level after a dull effort from a poor post vs. much tougher on turf earlier this month. She’ll greatly appreciate the class drop and the return to conventional dirt, and the Mullins-trained filly should draft into an ideal pace-prompting position. In a rather shallow affair, we’ll make her a rolling exotic single.

The second race should be made to order for #3 Sarangani, a second-off-a-layoff play for Headley. Perhaps a tad rusty when making his first start in 10 months, the lightly-raced gelding weakened to finish fourth in a similar spot last month, but should be fitter and tighter today. He has back numbers that would beat this field. #1 Blue Collar Boy, third in the same race Sarangani exits, lands the good rail and should be on or near the lead throughout. He won’t have to improve much to be right there.

The pick-6 begins with the third race, a maiden turf miler for fillies and mares bred in California. #7 Coconut Cream Pie couldn’t get untracked when tried over the Del Mar all-weather surface last time out and finished far back; we’re willing to draw a line through that effort and expect her to bounce back with the return to turf. In the money in five of seven career starts and with back speed figures that are better than par for this level, the daughter of Good Journey gets an ideal spot to earn her diploma. Small ticket players may consider using her as a single.

Bottom-rung older maiden claimers sprint six furlongs in the fourth race; #6 King Maya likely will be a pick-6 single on the majority of tickets (he’s 3/5 on the morning line). Unraced since April and returning in a very soft spot, the Cerin-trained colt has trained well enough to be fit and ready and both of his prior starts over the Santa Anita main track were solid. You may want to consider a ticket or two using the “stranger danger” Avila first timer, #7 Masochistic as a backup. He’s trained fairly well and really won’t have to be any kind of world beater to act at this level.

The fifth race is a maiden grass grab bag and likely requires a spread. #1 Navarre ran quite well in his U.S. debut at Del Mar but then regressed when favored in his second outing; he lands the rail and adds blinkers for O’Neill and could snap back in a big way today. He’s a “must use” in your pick-6. #3 Maxx the Giant might be better than shown; he continues to look sharp in the morning for Cassidy and didn’t have the best of trips when sixth, beaten three lengths, in a similar spot here last month. #7 Valtari is lightly raced with rising speed figures and will be in the thick of things with another forward move today.

Restricted claimers meet in the sixth race over a middle distance in another race that looks fairly wide open. #1 Frenemy returns to conventional dirt and should improve his Del Mar form; the Sadler-trained colt retains Bejarano and likely will enjoy a lovely, ground-saving trip. He’s our top pick but we’ll also include #5 Warren’s Joe T. (prior win over the track and a solid fit on recent speed figures) and #6 Afflication (class dropper with good tactical speed and switching to the main track).

We quite liked the recent win by #7 The One’s for Mel and we’re expecting the Miller-trained gelding to be tough right back in the seventh race despite the raise into allowance company. His numbers are solid and his excellent tactical speed should insure a good stalking trip. This is a fairly contentious race, though, so we’ll also toss in #1 Quiet Force, lightly raced with improving speed figures and a good inside draw, and #6 Spring Up, a strong second in a hot recent race won by next out winner Tom’s Tribute.

We’ll double the nightcap, a maiden claiming sprint for bottom-rungers. #4 Broker Brett has been chasing much tougher and should enjoy this substantial class drop; the Sadler-trained colt switches to Bejarano and clearly is tops in the speed figure department. #1 Arizona Wildcat has finished in the money in his last three starts and will be a threat if ‘Brett fails to fire his best shot.