Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Dec. 28, 2013)

A strong Saturday program features two good stakes races and a number of excellent wagering opportunities.

In the opener, #3 Tiz Dynamic looks well-spotted by Baltas and should fire his best shot. The Tiznow gelding loves the Santa Anita main track, has trained quite well for his first start since Del Mar and beat a similar field two races back. We like him on top but in rolling exotic play we’ll also toss in #4 Ezio, a recent Belvoir claim (25% with a flat-bet profit with this angle) with a winning spirit (six for 11 lifetime).

The second race should be a walkover for #6 San Onofre. The Surf Cat gelding earned a giant figure when demolishing a maiden field last month at Hollywood Park and has been impressive in the morning in the interim. Drawn comfortably outside in a field without his kind of speed, the Karen Headley-trained sophomore looks 50 cents on the dollar.

#4 Echo Zulu is hard-knocking juvenile sprinter in Miller’s barn and has finished in the money in seven of eight career starts. He figures to continue his consistent form in the third race, a starter optional claimer at the extended sprint trip of seven furlongs. Pedroza knows him well and should have this son of E. Z. Warrior in an ideal pace prompting/stalking spot throughout. There’s value here as a straight play at or near his 5/2 on the morning line.

Half of the entrants in the Eddie Logan Stakes began their career in Europe and the best of the contingent would seem to be the graded stakes winner #3 Craftsman. He arrives fit and ready for Callaghan and if he duplicates his Irish form he’ll be tough. We’ll use him in our rolling exotics, but prefer on top #2 Enterprising, a very impressive maiden winner at Hollywood Park last month and working well since for Proctor. He’s a nice prospect with loads of improvement in him.

#8 Pimpernel was bet like he couldn’t lose in his debut last month but the Baffert-trained colt weakened late while racing greenly and wound up third, beaten more than seven lengths. He’s come back to train impressively since that race, so we’re expecting major improvement in today’s fifth race. He’s drawn nicely outside and should have every chance to make amends for a trainer whose second-time starters usually move up considerably.

In the sixth race, #1 Ontology finally gets another chance vs. maidens after being tried in six consecutive stakes events, four of them graded. He continues to train well and should take full advantage of this much softer assignment. We also like the blinkers-off angle and there’s certainly nothing wrong with his inside draw. #2 Big Medicine Man has a steadily improving pattern and switches to Bejarano while trying turf for the first time. He should at least land in the frame. #4 Miraglo, third in his last pair, probably will earn a minor award again today.

The seventh race brings back #8 Seeking the Sherif, a highly-rated maiden claiming winner last March but unraced since. He seems to be training well enough off the bench to be fit and ready, especially in this restricted $12,500 claimer, and he’s more than fast enough to win if he returns as well as he left. #5 Tribal Smoke has improving figures for Mullins and could be tough if ‘Sherif fails to fire.

The Daytona Stakes down the hill is the featured eighth race and many of the usual suspects are in the field. It’s tough to separate #2 Chips All In and #4 Unbridled’s Note – they finished in a dead-heat in the Turf Express across town earlier this month – and you can toss in #8 Ain’t No Other somewhere on your rolling exotic ticket as well. For those of you who can afford it, it might not be a bad idea to simply buy the race.

The nightcap is a weak maiden claimer; we can come up with two logical contenders and not much else. # 11 Exotic Behavior continues to drop in class for Baffert and she may not be one to trust, though on numbers she’s a stick out. #7 Red Barris isn’t nearly as fast on figures as ‘Behavior but she goes for a new outfit today and lands Bejarano. The others are hard to make a case for.