Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Feb. 28, 2014)

A wet Friday – heavy rain is expected throughout the day – makes the eight race program especially challenging, since many of the entrants have little to no form over wet surfaces.

The opener, a modest middle distance claimer restricted to 3-year-olds, should be won by the class-dropping Runaway Que at a short price. The Mullins-trained gelding has excellent off-track breeding on his dam’s side, and recent speed figures that are more than good enough to win at this level.

#4 Vronsky and #6 Deep Play look like the logical contenders in the second race, but neither has any history over any type of off track. Vronsky earned a career top speed figure when second over a dry main track recently and if he repeats that effort today he’ll be hard to beat. Deep Play has turf figures that make him a major player but there’s no guarantee he’ll perform equally as well under today’s conditions.

The Pick-6 begins with the third race. #3 Empress of Midway, a useful third in her debut, has trained well since and seems very likely to produce a forward move for O’Neill. Smith rides her back. Katerrific has trained well enough for Powell to warrant a bit of a look, especially with Bejarano taking the call. Both are worth including in rolling exotic play with ‘Midway deserving of top billing.

The fourth race looked like a fairly decent maiden affair for older state-breds until it was decimated by late scratches. #8 Gospel Music lands the cozy outside post and seems ready to produce another forward move while adding blinkers for the first time. He’ll be a very short price in an unplayable race.

The fifth race is an abbreviated sprint for bottom-rung fillies and mares; who’ll handle the going? #5 Giannonatti should be a late threat and has the pedigree to move up an off track; we also like the switch to Baze. #1 Smil’n From Above drops to her lowest level ever, gets a break in the weights, and is a fit on figures, so if she can avoid trouble from the rail she should be a factor throughout. #3 J Louie seems sure to show early speed and could stick around for a while if she takes to the wet surface.

The sixth race, a good allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies, attracted just a small field of five. #4 Belle of the Fleet launches a comeback for Hendricks and her form from last summer stamps her as the one to beat. The works indicate she’s fit and ready. #5 Midnight Dream has improving numbers for Baffert and after beating maidens in clever fashion last month the daughter of Elusive Quality should produce another forward move today. Both should be used in your rolling exotics.

Older maiden fillies and mares meet at a flat mile in the seventh race. With the scratching of #6 Turn On, we’ll set our sights #2 A Little Luckier, a second off the layoff play for Gaines and with a prior good effort over this main track back in September of 2012. She may have been a bit rusty in her comeback but won’t be today.

The nightcap is a bottom rung maiden claiming sprint for older fillies and mares; factor in the off track and this is nothing more than a guessing game. #11 Classic Candy, freshened since September and making her first start for Kitchingman, has trained pretty well for her return and may be a better type this time around. #12 Amina Perfect seems to be improving ever so gradually for Jones and figures to draft into an ideal pace prompting position outside. We’ll include these two in our rolling exotics but without any great degree of confidence.