Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Jan. 24, 2014)

The first two races on Friday’s program contain no-value short priced morning line favorites that look hard to deny. #4 Corinthian Melody (3/5) tries to graduate in her 11th career start in the opener and will never get an easier spot; we’d like to try to beat her but with what? In the second race, #4 Dance With Fate (4/5) exits three consecutive Grade-1 races while dropping into a first-level allowance affair in his sophomore debut and should out class the field. #3 Flagman might provide a threat if he gets the patient ride he needs from Talamo.

The Pick-6 begins with the third race and we’re forced to deal with yet another heavy favorite, #2 Brilliant Jewel (6/5). Beaten at 60 cents on the dollar when last seen about a year ago in Florida, she returns for Shirreffs in a soft maiden two-turner and has trained well enough to be fit and ready. However, she’s not a single in our book. #3 Thisonesforricky is another comebacker with a right to run well; her back numbers make her a fit and her works are solid for Jones. Bejarano should have her in a good pace-prompting position. #5 Tiz Midnight stretches out to a distance she should certainly enjoy and she has the blinkers-off angle working for her as well. All three should be included in rolling exotic play.

#7 Glance’s Rule is a default top selection in the fourth race, a dreary maiden claiming sprint for sophomore fillies. The first timers don’t seem like much and there’s little to fear among the other previous runners. The daughter of Tribal Rule is hardly trustworthy but at this abbreviated sprint trip she looks quick enough to establish the early pace and perhaps hang on. #4 Tim’s Go Girl, a fair fourth in her debut, has a right to improve and probably should be included somewhere on your rolling exotic ticket.

We like #5 Yankee Rebel as a single in the fifth race, a nine furlong starter’s allowance affair on turf. This is new territory for the former sprinter, but the way he performed at a mile over this course a couple of weeks ago provides hope that the added ground won’t be an issue. He’s a first-off-the-claim for Hollendorfer (38% with a flat-bet profit), retains Bejarano, and should inherit a perfect second-flight, stalking position. And with only eight previous starts, he has plenty of room for further improvement.

We’ll come right back with another single in the sixth race, #5 Peacenik. A sharp winner against $8,000 foes two weeks ago, the veteran gelding returns on the one-level raise for new trainer Bonde (20% first-off-the-claim) while retaining Bejarano and has always preferred this shortened five and one-half furlong trip. However, at 8/5 on the morning line, he doesn’t offer any real value in the straight pool.

#5 Mesana was impressive breaking her maiden at first asking at Hollywood Park in November and returns for Shirreffs in the featured seventh race against entry-level allowance foes while switching to turf. She’s certainly bred for the lawn (Mizzen Mast) and continues to shine in the morning, so we’ll put her on top. However, this is a better-than-par race for the level and requires a bit of a spread. #1 Joeandbetty’sbaby earned a competitive number when beating a $32,000 field coming down the hill last month and may produce another forward move for new trainer Belvoir (32% with a flat-bet profit with first-off-the-claim). She’ll be rolling late. #7 Zambo, second in a similar spot earlier this meeting, has strong recent numbers and is a “must use” in exotic play.

The nightcap is a split of the fourth race and looks like the stronger division. #1 Among the Stars surfaces for a tag for the first time and removes blinkers; the Walsh-trained filly will be tough to beat if she can avoid trouble from the rail. We’ll also toss in #6 Controller, an improving Dominguez-trained filly eligible to move forward in her second off a layoff.