Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Feb. 15, 2014)

An excellent Saturday program offers several good opportunities for profits in rolling exotic play.

The opener, a maiden claiming abbreviated sprint, doesn’t have much strength among the known element so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if a first time starter prevailed. There are two that fit the bill. #3 Bosque Angel has trained well enough for Headley to be considered a major player; he’s worked in company with the brilliantly fast San Onofre and has held his own, so he should be a fit in this modest spot. #5 Chat n’ Cut has done good work in a.m. preps for Dollase, who is superior with debut runners, and probably deserves top billing. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics.

The second race appears to have two main contenders. #5 Wonderful Union stretches out for the first time and will take them as far as he can for a barn that has very good stats with projection plays. The Ellis-trained gelding clearly looks like the speed of the speed and even if he really doesn’t want to run a mile he just might be able to open up and then hang on. #2 Caramuru has low profile connections but if he’s cranked up in his first start since September he can win based on his big figure maiden claiming score last summer at Del Mar.

Entry-level allowance sprinters meet down the Hillside course in the third race, and this is another affair that appears to boil down to just two. #2 Rangi is winless in the U.S. but a repeat of either one of his last two starts makes him a major player, and his speed figures continue to rise. He’ll win one eventually, maybe today. However, we’ll prefer #4 Brokered on top; the Dollase-trained gelding looks comfortable as a late-running turf sprinter and he earned a strong, career-top number when fourth in a hot race last month. We’re expecting Nakatani to have him along in time.

The fourth race begins the Pick-6. #6 Seeking the Sherif was beaten on the square in a $32,000 claimer last time out but earned a giant speed figure and actually ran a winning race in defeat. Today he’s protected in starter’s allowance company and with another forward move looks tough to handle. #8 Macias is a genuine and consistent sprinter and loves this main track (three wins in six starts). He should draft into an ideal pace prompting position. Preference goes to Seeking the Sherif but we’ll use both in our rolling exotics.

#3 Bury Pacer has much in his favor in the fifth race, a nine-furlong entry-level turf event, and we’ll make him a strong straight play and rolling exotic single. The O’Neill-trained closed flashed ability when a promising third in his recent U.S. debut and today gets an extra furlong to work with. With Smith riding him back, the Irish-bred colt should out class this field.

The sixth race is a maiden special weight sprint for 3-year-olds. #7 Rough Passage returns to one corner and seems most effective as a late-running sprinter. Bejarano stays aboard and at this seven furlong distance we’re expecting he’ll give the son of Stormy Atlantic the patient ride he needs. While we strongly prefer Rough Passage on top, rolling exotic player should consider using on a ticket or two #2 Footstepsinbronze, a promising second in his debut and capable of improving with experience and the switch to conventional dirt. Though Bejarano jumps off to ride Rough Passage, Callaghan was able to secure Smith for Footstepsinbronze, so we’ll consider that pretty much of a wash.

There appears to be two stick outs in the Sweet Life Stakes, a downhill turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies. #2 On the Backstreets just won an allowance race over this course and distance last month and looked super doing it; she’s trained well since so there’s every expectation she’ll run back to that race today. #4 Famous Alice, second behind On the Backstreets last time out, looks like a logical exacta partner once again.

The featured Santa Maria Stakes goes as the eighth race; Baffert originally had two major contenders but with the scratching of #2 Fiftyshadesofhay he’ll now have to count on #3 Ondine. Third but beaten just a half-length in the La Canada, she has plenty of room to move forward and switches to Smith. We’ll try to get by using her as a straight play and rolling exotic single.

The nightcap is a bottom-rung maiden claimer for older fillies and mares; best advice is to use as many as you can afford. #7 Teacher Teacher earned a fairly decent speed figure when third in a tougher spot recently and today tries to earn her diploma with a significant class drop. She should like this extended sprint distance. #9 Kid Rollins is lightly-raced and capable of improving, though today she must pick up 10 pounds off her third place effort vs. similar last month. These are the two we’ll prefer but without any great conviction.