Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sun., Feb. 9, 2014)

An intriguing Sunday program begins with a no value favorite in a five horse field. #4 Ranulf just crushed a $40,000 field with a huge figure, but is being dropped to $32,000 by Baffert. A sharp recent workout is encouraging, but why the for sale sign? Even if he wins, at 4/5 on the morning line who cares? Let’s wait for better opportunities.

The second race, another five runner affair, has a pair of logical contenders. #1 Shadow Runner takes a significant class drop but has looked quite good in the morning of late so we’ll assume he’s okay. He’s back with Bejarano and should draft into a good, second flight position, ready to pounce when asked. He’s 3-1 on the morning line and that’s not bad. #2 Hurricane Lake is a Phoenix invader with competitive figures and a prior win over the Santa Anita main track. The barn’s been hot this meeting and at 9/2 on the morning line this veteran gelding is worth using.

#6 Faith Hope Love has an improving pattern for Dollase and looks ready to graduate in the third race, a six furlong sprint for maiden 3-year-old fillies. Her numbers are rising, she continues to look sharp in the morning and Bejarano stays aboard. #7 Sweet Profit is a promising first timer from the Sadler barn; she’s trained well enough to be used in rolling exotics. O’Neill appears to have a very good prospect in #8 Empress of Midway. Smith has been out to work her a few times and the daughter of Empire Maker has done everything right. In a very strong race for the level, we’ll use all three in exotic play.

The fourth race is a grass grab bag requiring a spread. #2 Four Better didn’t get off well in her comeback sprint recently and failed to threaten, but the Miller-trained filly is worth another look with the switch to Talamo and the stretch out in trip. #4 Woebegon, first off the claim for Biancone and wheeled back in a week, stretches out and switches surfaces while removing blinkers; she could be dangerous on the front end. #8 Smart N Dreamy takes a two level class drop following a nice try over this course eight days ago; she switches to Nakatani and has won over this course in the past.

The fifth race is a difficult and contentious six furlong starter optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies. #3 South Sound drops a notch for O’Neill and has the kind of early speed that makes her dangerous in this league. #6 Time for Angie seeks her third straight score while moving up two levels on the class scale, her numbers say she should be a strong factor once again. #7 E Equalsmcsquared just missed as the favorite in a similar spot last month; she’s trained well since, lands the cozy outside post and should draft into a good pace prompting position. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics while preferring E Equalsmcsquared slightly on top.

The sixth race is yet another challenging turf event, one with several contenders. We’ll try to boil it down to just two, but feel free to spread the race if you can afford to. #10 Nickels Wild was a respectable fourth in graded stakes company earlier this meeting and today returns to the allowance ranks; she’s held her form in the morning of late and is re-united with Garcia, who won on her two races back. #12 Moulin de Mougin is drawn poorly outside but if she can negotiate a decent trip she’ll be right there. The Mandella-trained filly has rising numbers and in her second off a layoff the daughter of Curlin seems likely to produce a major forward move.

The seventh race is a highly competitive first-level allowance sprint. #3 Chief Lion is lightly-raced with plenty of upside; the Harty-trained colt has looked very sharp in the morning of late and today has that always powerful blinkers-off angle working for him. He’s plenty quick and ran decently in his only prior try over conventional dirt. #2 Omega Star finished a solid second behind the razor sharp San Onofre recently and there doesn’t appear to be anything in here that good. With another bit of improvement the Candy Ride gelding will be right there. #6 Xuang Feng is a dangerous comebacker in the Miller barn; he’s been training lights out lately and lands Bejarano so we’re assuming he’s much better than his poor 2013 record indicates. Toss him in at 12-1 on the morning line.

The featured Wishing Well Stakes for older fillies and mare sprinting down the hill goes as the eighth race. #1 Birdlover beat a softer field over this course and distance last month and earned a career top speed figure in the process; the rail is no bargain but she’s thoroughly genuine and consistent. #6 Purim’s Dancer, third in the Monrovia Stakes last month, catches a bit easier field today and should be in the firing line throughout. She’s re-united with Stevens, who won on her three races back.

The nightcap is an abbreviated sprint for older bottom-rung maiden claimers. #1 Old Pueblo, first off the claim for Conlon, has hit the board in both of his starts and probably has a bit of room for improvement. He switches to Talamo and is a fit on figures. #10 Apache Ambush drops to the bottom, exits a series of much tougher races, and should fit very nice in this league. #11 Blue Cherokee, away since June but training quite well for his return for O’Neill, gets blinkers and a break in the weights and could be a better type this time around.