Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Jan. 25, 2015)

A $74,221 Pick-6 carryover highlights a terrific 10-race, stakes dominated Saturday program that begins early with a Noon first post.

Debuting #1 Well Mannered has trained well enough to win at first asking in the opener, a maiden state-bred sprint. Miller has an outstanding record with debut runners and this gelding has worked like he’s fit and ready. In a below par field for the level, the son of Benchmark figures to be a short price.

The second race may come down to #2 Woodmans Luck and #8 Volkonsky; we’ll use both in our rolling exotics. Volkonsky moves to the Hollendorfer barn via private purchase and has looked especially sharp in the morning since joining this stable. We’re expecting considerable improvement, enough perhaps to land him in the winner’s circle. Woodmans Luck won a competitive starter’s allowance race across town last month and earned a solid speed figure; he’s always preferred to run second than actually win; today we’ll see if he can take two in a row.

Maiden claiming 3-year-olds sprint six furlongs in the third race, a wide open affair that probably requires a spread in rolling exotic play. #5 Seeking Asylum, first off the claim for Hollendorfer (38% with a flat-bet profit) figures to move forward for his new connections and he finished second in a similar spot earlier this month. With the switch to Bejarano the Lucky Pulpit gelding probably will go favored; however, we’ll also include #7 Head South and #10 Fourth Generation on our ticket. Head South is improving with racing for Miyadi and with another forward move should be tough on the front end, while Fourth Generation seems better than shown for Jones and with a clean start could make his presence felt from slightly off the pace.

The Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes is carded as the fourth race and brings back the defending champion #2 Teddy’s Promise in what will be the final start of her career. Fresh from a sharp stakes score at Hollywood Park in December, she continues to look sprightly in the morning and seems set for another top effort. She’s the proven class of the field and we’re expecting the Ellis-trained mare to go out a winner as a straight play and rolling exotic single.

The Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint is a highly-contentious downhill dash for fillies and mares and it’s a challenging first event in the Pick-6 sequence. #4 Marks Mine, a sharp Bay Area invader, appears to have the perfect pace-stalking style for the course and the daughter of Benchmark has speed figures that are good enough to beat this field. She’s unproven on turf but we don’t thank the surface switch will be an issue. Price players might consider #5 Runfasterelse, a route-to-sprint play and a dangerous closer from Golden Gate Fields. She’s genuine and consistent and likely better than her 12-1 morning line odds give her credit for. You should include on your ticket #7 This Means War, a lightly-raced War Chant mare who was impressive in her comeback last month at Hollywood Park and has trained in superb style since. Talamo will have her rolling late.

Older maiden fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in the sixth race; we’re looking at another Northern California shipper, #5 Tribal Torch, as our top selection. The daughter of Tribal Rule earned a competitive speed figure when third in a photo up north last month and today she’ll race with blinkers while trying conventional dirt for the first time. With any kind of forward move she can win. We’ll also use on our ticket #4 Girl On the Lam (the blinkers-off angle) and #7 Sea John’s Spirit (a good third in her only prior start over the Santa Anita main track last year).

The seventh race is the California Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on turf. #8 Sprague River is unbeaten in two starts and won over the Hollywood Park lawn in her recent comeback; whether or not the daughter of Tribal Rule can handle the extra distance is questionable based on pedigree but she appears to be a quality sort and until such time as she shows she can’t handle two-turns we’ll assume that she can. For protection, rolling exotic plays should also consider using #6 Princess Genevieve (nice maiden win over this course and distance earlier this month) and #13 Swiss Lake Yodeler (beaten just once in four starts and with rising speed figures in each outing).

The Cal Cup Sprint, carded as the eighth race, looks like an ideal spot for #6 Cyclometer to continue his winning ways. A winner of two of his last three including the recent Midnight Lute Stakes over this track and distance three weeks ago, the Headley-trained six-year-old should enjoy a perfect pace-prompting journey. We’ll also consider #9 Spirit Rules, freshened, working well, and dangerous with his best effort. There’s some value here at 6-1 on the morning line.

The ninth race is the California Cup Turf Classic, an ideal spot for #1 Summer Hit to dominate from start to finish. Drawn comfortably inside in a field without too much early speed, the devout front-runner should be able to make the running and keep on going against this state-bred lineup. The Hollendorfer-trained gelding most recently demolished grade 3 company in the Berkeley Handicap up north over an all-weather surface and is every bit as good, if not better, on turf.

The finale is a very strong first edition of the California Cup Derby at a mile and one-sixteenth on the main track. #4 Tamarando, third behind champion Shared Belief in the Gr. 1 Cash Call Futurity in December, faces state-bred foes today and really should out class this group. He’s a deep-closer over a main track that is no longer blatantly speed biased, so we’re expecting Bejarano to have him along in time. #7 California Chrome looked super winning the seven furlong King Glorious Stakes across town last month and we’ll toss him in as well, though he still has to prove he’s as good routing as he is sprinting.