Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Jan. 18, 2014)

An attractive Saturday program begins with an inscrutable race – anybody can win the opener – and if you’re playing rolling exotics we suggest you use as many as you can afford to. #4 Second Time and #7 Clearly Confused both have credentials but neither one is trustworthy. The former once could run a bit but hasn’t been out since November of 2012 while the latter has failed twice in a row as the favorite. They could run one-two or end up nowhere.

The second race finds both #3 Addendum and #5 Quinnette well-placed for top efforts and both are “must uses” in rolling exotic play. Addendum has the perfect style for seven furlongs and just earned a career top speed figure when beating $20,000 claimers across town. She’s protected today in starter’s allowance company by Cerin and Talamo stays aboard. Quinnette turns back to an extended sprint for Ellis and is a perfect one-for-one over the Santa Anita main track while exiting a first-level allowance affair. She switches to Smith, likes to win races, and figures to be rolling in the final furlong.

The third race is a better-than-par $20,000 claiming sprint with several contenders to consider. #1 Courtside got away with a crawling pace last month at Hollywood Park and rolled all the way to the wire; he’s up a notch today but catches another fairly favorable pace scenario and could be tough right back, low-percentage connections notwithstanding. #2 Newfound Gold exits a killer race and returns to reality today for Machowsky following a 10 week vacation; he’s been burning up the track of late and has run well fresh in the past, so a top effort can be expected. These are the two we’ll prefer but feel free to go deeper if you can afford to.

The Pick-6 begins with the fourth race, a weak bottom-rung maiden claimer. #8 Right On Schedule lost whatever chance he may have had when squeezed back at the start in his debut and then had a mild late bid to finish fourth in an abbreviated sprint. He gets an extra furlong and a half to work with today and if he leaves cleanly the Walsh-trained gelding should be a strong factor. #12 Cuneo has back numbers that can win and comes off a solid runner-up try at the level; he, too, should be doing his best work late. In this league anything goes, but we’ll try to survive using just these two.

The Megahertz Stakes over a mile on turf for older fillies and mares, lost a major contender when #2 Moone’s My Name was scratched. That’s good news for #6 Fanticola; the Mitchell-trained filly has won three straight from softer foes while improving her speed figures to a level that now makes her the one to beat. She’s a versatile sort that should draft into a good stalking spot and if she can produce yet another forward move she’ll be hard to contain in the final furlong.

A good group of maiden 3-year-olds sprint five and one-half furlongs in the sixth race; Baffert has two bullets to fire and both must be taken seriously. #8 Pimpernel has burned money in both of his career starts but today removes blinkers and gets Lasix so the Elusive Quality colt deserves one more chance. #11 Roger Rocket has been tearing up the track in the morning and appears cranked and ready to go; Nakatani doesn’t ride all that often for this outfit but we’ll still assume this colt is very live. In addition to the Baffert pair we’ll also toss in the Ellis first-timer, #4 Ferocious. A $300,000 Barretts May Sale graduate, he was quite impressive when he breezed a furlong in 10 seconds flat during the preview session and the son of Tale of the Cat may offer considerable value at 10-1 on the morning line. This stable doesn’t win often with first-timers but this colt may be the exception to the rule.

A strong group of entry-level fillies and mares at a mile on grass meet in the seventh race, with a pair of Callaghan-trained European imports worthy of strong consideration. #1 Clear Path was a minor handicapper in England with modest Racing Post ratings last year but she’s trained well for her U.S. debut, gets Lasix, and could easily be better than the form shows. This trainer is superb with these types of runners, especially first time out. Stable mate #6 Bee Brave won her only outing in Scotland in August of 2012 at odds of 50-1; she gets Lasix and Bejarano for her U.S. debut and has done plenty of good work in the morning. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics along with #8 Moulen de Mougin, a talented Curlin filly who’ll be trying two-turns for the first time. A recent mile workout in 1:39 3/5 (in which she dusted off Polytechnicien) gives every indication that the added ground won’t be an issue.

The featured Strub Stakes – originally called the Santa Anita Maturity – used to be contested at the classic American distance of a mile and one-quarter. It was shortened to nine furlongs in 1998 and now the race is a mile and one-sixteenth. At this rate it’ll be a sprint by 2030. #3 Shakin It Up has been terrific around one turn – his opening day Malibu Stakes score was superb and earned a giant speed figure – but he is unproven around two turns. The son of Midnight Lute continues to impress in the morning while giving every indication he can handle any distance and at 7/2 on the morning line the Baffert-trained colt offers considerable value. The two main contenders both come from the Hollendorfer stable; #4 Zeewat finished a strong second in the Malibu and last year won two stakes over a route of ground, while #6 Hear the Ghost returns to 4-year-old only company after an excellent second in the Native Diver Stakes last month across town to subsequent San Pasqual winner Blueskiesnrainbows.

The finale is a moderate maiden turf miler for 3-year-old fillies that could be won by yet another Euro-import, this one from Gallagher’s barn. #10 Practising, second in a pair of decent races last summer in England, shows up with Lasix and Bejarano and should be more than fit enough following a steady series of solid workouts. The known element doesn’t look inspiring though #3 Dancinginthestreet may improve as a first-time Lasix user while #8 One More stretches out, switches to turf and removes blinkers, enough reasons to toss her in at 15-1 on the morning line.