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

The Sunday program begins with a difficult sprint for $12,500 claimers. #2 Keyboard Courage just earned a strong figure in beating $25,000 foes last month but today shows up for half that month. Baze, who was aboard for that win, opts for #7 Dunmore East, a winner of an $8,000 claimer last time out. #5 Senator Bob looked fairly decent beating a lesser field two weeks ago but joins a low percentage outfit. None are trustworthy but it will be only a mild surprise to us if the winner isn’t one of these three.

The second race, a maiden claiming mile affair for 3-year-olds, should be a good spot for #6 Bluegrass Fox Trot, but he’s a seven-race maiden with middling speed figures. Yet, by default, he appears the one to beat. #5 Warrensgoldenyears stretches out for the first time and gains Bejarano, so a case can be made for him as well. We’ll tread lightly here.

We’ve got the third race down to a pair of contenders. #7 Sweet Boss scored at first asking last May at Hollywood Park and then disappeared; she returns for Shirreffs with a moderate work tab similar to the one to she had prior to her debut victory. Maybe she’s just not much of a worker. We’ll give her a slight edge over #2 Quinnette, a consistent sort from the Ellis barn returning to the main track and shortening up in trip. A repeat of her race before last puts her right in the hunt.

The fourth race begins the Pick-6 and it’s a tough sequence, ushered in by a starter’s allowance affair over a mile on turf with several possibilities. #9 Sheer Talent, first off the claim for Glatt, makes a major jockey switch to Bejarano and should draft into a nice pace prompting position in a field without a whole lot of early speed. He’s winless over this course but gets his best chance today. #5 Gallant Charm and #8 Handsome Dennis both have capable closing kicks and with good racing luck could be heard from in the final furlong. These are the three we’ll include in our rolling exotics but it’s definitely a spread affair so use as many as you can afford to.

The fifth race is another wide open event, a main track miler for $16,000 claimers. #5 Big Wags gets a weight break with the switch to bug boy Van Dyke and he stretches out again after an even effort in a recent sprint. The old timer knows how to win races and may be rounding back to some kind of decent form. #3 Graeme Crackerjack, second off the claim for Chew, remains above his purchase price in a show of confidence and exits a much better race. He can act with these. #8 Mensa Heat beat a softer field in decent fashion last month and is triple jumped in class by West. He really won’t have to improve much to be a strong factor right back.

The sixth race is a downhill turf sprint for state-bred 3-year-olds. #1 Mythical Storm has done some good things in the morning for G. Mandella and attracts Bejarano, so the son of Fusaichi Pegasus could turn up extremely live in a field in which the known element isn’t overwhelming. #7 Missing Groom, away since September, has trained quite well for Hollendorfer and could easily be a much better type this time around. #3 Nooten may be most comfortable as a late-running turf sprinter and gets those conditions today. Stevens should give him the patient ride he needs. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics while slightly preferring Mythical Storm on top.

The featured seventh race is the Las Flores Stakes for older sprinting fillies and mares. #3 Judy the Beauty was a gallant runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last November and then took a vacation. She returns to California after a series of sizzling drills in Florida, so we’re going to assume that Ward has her fit and ready. Johnny V. flies out to ride her, another telling sign. #5 Munnings Sister, an overnight stakes winner at Gulfstream Park last month, also invades with high expectations and while she’ll need to step forward to beat the favorite, the Tagg-trained mare should at least land in the frame.

We like #1 Remise in the eighth race but not quite enough to make her a single. The Blacker-trained mare has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern and should run at least as well if not better in her first try over a distance of ground. From the rail, she should draft into an ideal, ground-saving, second-flight position. #4 Premier Steps also should be included in rolling exotic play; the Proctor-trained filly made a favorable impression in her local debut when rallying to finish second in a strong downhill turf sprint, and she’s won stakes at this distance in the past so the added route shouldn’t be any issue.

The nightcap is an abbreviated sprint for maiden claiming sophomore fillies and appears to be a good spot for a newcomer. First time starter #3 Coast Starlite has shown good ability in the morning for Zucker and represents strong stranger-danger in an unclassified field. The daughter of Macho Uno is a “must use” in rolling exotic play. #5 Swiss Peak looks like the best of the known element; the Harrington-trained filly has finished in the money in both of her starts and has a right to step forward following her comeback effort last month.