Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Feb.21, 2014)

The Friday program begins typically with an early daily double comprised of two light fields.

In the opener #2 Let’s Dance looks to make it two straight after graduating at first asking in fairly decent style up north; she earned a competitive speed figure and has trained reasonably well over the Santa Anita main track since returning to her home base. We’ll put her on top but also use #3 Warren’s Puppy Love, herself a debut winner in game style last month. However, Lewis chose not to protect her in starter’s allowance company and instead opts for this modest claimer, not really a sign of confidence.

We’ll go two-deep in the second race as well. #2 Sir Macho earned a better-than-par figure when narrowly missing in a maiden $30,000 seller last month and this raise can be taken as a positive. With any kind of forward move he should be tough to beat. #5 Matt the Hammer, claimed out of his debut by Kitchinghman, continues to impress in the morning and almost certainly is better than his distant fourth place finish indicates.

#1 Awesome Return seems like a logical single in the third race, the Pick-6 opener. A distant fourth in the powerful, highly-rated California Cup Derby, the Puype-trained colt returns to turf, drops to a first-level allowance event, and should simply be better than these. We’d love to get the 3-1 that he’s listed on the morning line. Talamo knows him well and should have the son of Decarchy along in time.

#4 Vicki Victoria appears well-placed in the fourth race, an abbreviated sprint for mid-grade claiming fillies and mares. She’s had success over this track in the past and should be fitter and tougher today while dropping a notch after perhaps being a tad short in her comeback outing three weeks ago. She can win pressing the pace or from slightly off it; Maldonado can pick his spot depending upon how the race shape develops. We like her as a straight play and rolling exotic single.

We’ll use two in the fifth race, a maiden special weight hillside turf sprint that came up a fairly light. #2 Incline Village is back sprinting where he seems most comfortable and looks ready to graduate; a repeat of his race before last should be good enough to beat this field and Talamo stays aboard. #4 Misdeed, away since last April, could be dangerous off the bench for Mandella; the works are good enough and this late-running sprinter could be a bit better type this time around.

The sixth race is a contentious $10,000 claiming sprint that probably requires a bit of a spread. We’ll use three and hope to get by. #5 Newfound Gold, first off the claim for Blacker, drops from $20,000 to $10,000 and that’s not a healthy sign, but he has a steady work tab and decent form over the Santa Anita main track so he can win if he has one good one left. #4 Senator Bob, first off the claim for Bonde, moves up a notch and will take them as far as he can on the front end. #6 Bruno’s Wager, away since last April, has trained quite well up north for his comeback and always has loved to win races, so if he’s ready he’s dangerous.

The featured seventh race has two main contenders. #5 Turn On the Pumps exits a series of tough state-bred allowance races and today surfaces for $25,000 non-winners of two; the Gaines-trained gelding should appreciate this much softer competition while also removing blinkers. Hopefully, Espinoza will give him the patient ride he prefers. #7 Dancer Humor is a perfect one-for-one on turf and returns to the sod today; there’s some price value here at 8-1 on the morning line for new trainer Puype and hot-riding Baze.

The nightcap is an inscrutable maiden claiming abbreviated sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Spread, spread, spread. Small ticket players should consider (in order of preference) #7 Among the Stars (first off the claim for Sadler with a bullet SLRD workout just three days ago); #5 Oh Boo Hoo (Bay Area shipper trying claimers for the first time) and #3 Parade Bound (steadily improving and second in a similar spot last month).