Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., March 29, 2014)

The Saturday program begins with a stronger-than-average maiden $50,000 claiming sprint for 3-year-old fillies. #5 Big Break has trained quite well for her debut and looks extremely live for Sherman. We’ll prefer her on top but in rolling exotic play we’ll also include #2 Roman Wild, another first-timer with a solid series of drills for a stable (Mullins) that does quite well with debut runners.

The second race, a downhill turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies, appears to be an ideal spot for #2 Suchi Empire. She’s a stakes winner but still eligible to this entry-level condition, and the shortened trip should suit her just fine. She’s reunited with Nakatani, who won the Blue Norther Stakes on this filly earlier this meeting. #5 Pillow makes her U.S. debut for a barn that excels with European imports and the work tab indicates she’s fit and ready. With Bejarano taking the mount, the Irish-bred filly is a “must use” in rolling exotic play.

The word on #1 Indian Safari is that she’s a high quality prospect and the one to beat in today’s third race, a maiden sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Bred to be a rocket ship (Indian Charlie), this $160,000 weanling purchase must overcome the rail post but if she breaks with her field she’ll be hard to beat. We like her as a rolling exotic single and hope to get close to her 3-1 morning line odds.

The fourth race starts the Pick-6; it’s no easy task today (is it ever?) but may be worth going after with a modest ticket. #4 Mary Helen’s Storm didn’t get the best of runs when fifth, beaten four lengths, in a similar affair in late January but her Los Alamitos works since that race have been sharp, so we’re expecting a strong forward move. She’s reunited with Talamo, who won on her three races back. We’ll also include #1 Clubhouse Rock, a fit off his maiden claiming win at this abbreviated sprint distance two runs back. This is an open race, though, so feel free to use a few more if your budget allows.

We’ll double the fifth race, a starter handicap on turf for fillies and mares. #1 Miss Well Molded, a $40,000 Aguirre claim, seems the solid choice though nine furlongs might be stretching her limit. However, she’s always liked this turf course and should enjoy a nice, ground-saving trip, so we’ll give her the edge. #5 Highly Rated also will be challenged by the distance, but her numbers are rising and she may be the controlling speed again. Bejarano stays aboard for new trainer Machowsky.

This sixth race is an unusually strong first-level middle distance allowance event; there are a number of lightly-raced and improving runners. #5 Taran Taran returned off a 13 month layoff to win a highly-rated maiden sprint for Baffert and if he moves forward off that race – and handles the added distance – he’ll be tough right back. Based on pedigree the son of Broken Vow should improve around two turns and Stevens stays aboard. #4 Magic Mark seeks his third straight and continues to register strong speed figures, though his easy front-running win vs. state-bred foes recently may have been flattered by the soft early fractions. We’ll see what he’s made of today. #10 I Don’t Care Who seeks his third straight while moving up from the claiming ranks and on pure numbers is a solid fit at this level. He continues to shine in the morning for Mullins so another forward move – outside post and all – can be expected. We’ll give a very slight nod on top to Taran Taran but all three should be included in rolling exotic play.

The American Beauty Stakes for fillies and mares over a mile on turf seems like an ideal spot for #6 Fanticola to regain her winning form. Third when beaten a neck in the Wishing Well Stakes down the hill last month, she stretches out again and figures to draft into a comfortable pace-prompting position. Thoroughly genuine and consistent, she retains Talamo and we’re expecting her to exert her superiority when it matters in the final furlong. We like her as a straight play and rolling exotic single.

The featured eighth race offers a rarity, a mile and one-half main track affair called the Tokyo City Cup. Several of the logical contenders are unproven at the trip, so this looks very much like a spread race for rolling exotic players. #8 Majestic Harbor is graded stakes-placed over a middle distance and trains like a horse who’ll thoroughly enjoy this marathon affair. We’ll give him a slight nod over #1 Tiz Dynamic, the likely pacesetter under Bejarano and a threat to go gate-to-wire if not policed, and #4 Segway, a true stayer in the Mandella barn but unproven on anything other than turf. However, he trains well on dirt, so there’s a chance he’ll handle it.

The nightcap should mark the graduation of the third time starter, #9 Seraphic Slew. The Hofmans-trained filly is improving with racing and ran well over this course and distance when second vs. similar last month. She’s trained nicely since, so another forward move can be expected, and in a below par field for the lever, the daughter of Counsel Member seems the solid choice under red hot bug boy Van Dyke at 3-1 on the morning line.