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

We have a decent Friday program with several attractive wagering opportunities.

The opener, a sprint for older straight maidens, looks like a logical spot for #1 Mank. A good second in a fast, highly-rated dash in late January, the son of Pulpit returns for Shirreffs following a strong series of recent workouts and should be primed for a forward move. Nakatani stays aboard and likely will have this lightly-raced 5-year-old in a good stalking position. #3 Grand Humor, third in the same race Mank exits, came back in an off-the-turfer over a wet fast track earlier this month and weakened late to be third after pressing the pace; perhaps over a dry, fast track he’ll be able to carry his speed a bit farther.

The second race seems made to order for #4 Cousin Ricky, and there may be some value here if you can get close to his morning line odds of 4-1. A sharp winner of a maiden $30,000 claimer last month, he’s trained well since for Mullins and looks prepared for another forward move. #2 Johnny Reb cruised to a nice score up north against maiden claimers though he was allowed to crawl on the front end and seems certain to face considerably more early heat today. He’s worth tossing in.

The pick-6 begins with the third race, a $25,000 claiming miler on grass. #4 Depreciable looks very much like a single in our book; the veteran gelding finished a respectable fourth down the hill vs. tougher recently and today stretches out again while dropping a notch in class. Significantly, two of his three career victories have come over this turf course. Talamo stays aboard for Mullins and should have the son of Smart Strike in a perfect pace-prompting position.

Maiden claimers sprint six furlongs in the fourth race, a below par event with nothing to trust. #1 This Cat’s Awesome drops a tad suspiciously into a high priced maiden claimer for the first time and backs up in trip; this group should be well within his scope though the rail is of some concern. Having just finished second vs. straight maiden state-bred foes in an off-the-turfer, he logically should have come back in that same spot (with a much higher purse and the possibility of a lucrative owner bonus with a win) but for some reason doesn’t. #7 Seeking Asylum has burned money in each of his last four starts and can’t be counted on, though he should win one eventually and on pure numbers is as good as anything else in this field. #6 Cinematic Cat tries maiden claimers for the first time and adds blinkers, so improvement can be expected.

The fifth race is another mile affair on turf and probably demands some sort of spread strategy. #2 Trelawny is genuine and consistent and looks tough again despite the raise in class for new trainer Yakteen, who claimed the 7-year-old out of a win for $32,000 last month. Baze stays aboard the veteran gelding, who has won 11 races during his career and is three-for-five lifetime over the local lawn. #6 Magic Chanel beat a $50,000 field two runs back down the hill and then was a solid second in an entry-level allowance race over this course and distance earlier this month. Today he’s unprotected for $40,000 – not exactly a sign of confidence by Hollendorfer – but if runs back to either one of his last two outings he’ll be right there. #7 Causeithertz, a closing fourth vs. similar sprinting on turf two weeks ago, stretches out again for Baffert and figures for at least a piece of it.

We have another maiden claimer to deal with in the sixth race, this one for 3-year-olds at the abbreviated sprint distance of five and one-half furlongs. #7 Good Samurai, first off the claim for Mitchell and making his first start since October, could easily be a much better type this time around and with virtually nothing to beat rates top billing pretty much by default. The comeback works aren’t great but they’re good enough. #8 Geldautomat has a little bit of speed and may stick better with the weight break he receives under bug boy Van Dyke. He’s maybe worth a small saver, nothing more.

The featured seventh race, a first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-olds on turf, should boil down to two main players. #6 Pathway to You won convincingly over this course and distance vs. starter’s allowance company last month while earning a sharp speed figure and has trained smartly since, indicating another forward move is likely. We’ll prefer the Blacker-trained gelding on top but also use #8 Number Five, a progressive gelding by Point Given fresh from a solid straight maiden score under similar conditions and likely to improve again for Mandella.

The finale is a restricted (nw-3) $16,000 claiming sprint for older runners and should be dominated by the inside two. #2 My Jealous earned a strong speed figure when second vs. $12,500 foes recently and moves up a notch for new trainer O’Neill while retaining Bejarano. He may not have to improve much to win, but he’s lightly-raced and seems sure to move forward. #1 Jovita’s Tuffy, a Bay Area shipper exiting tougher starter’s allowance company, won nicely over this conventional dirt track in January while earning a strong figure, and a repeat of that performance today puts him right in the thick of it.