Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (April 3, 2014)

Santa Anita Derby week opens with a solid eight-race Thursday program but with a very tough opener. #2 Indian Fields didn’t show a thing in her debut after a rugged start but she continues to train decently and probably is much better than shown. In our rolling exotics we’ll use her along with the Pomona shipper #3 Swan Street Lady, a Street Boss filly with decent works. A little will go a very long way in this soft maiden claimer.

#3 Sweetrayofsunshine is protected in the second race, a $25,000 extended sprint for fillies and mares. A winner of four of five over the Santa Anita main track, the Spawr-trained mare has trained like she’s fit and ready and lands Bejarano, so we’re assuming she’s extremely live in her first start in nearly a year. #4 Clearly Confused, claimed in her last pair and now in the O’Neill barn, also loves this surface and is double jumped in class in a sign of confidence following a sharp off-the-pace score for $16,000 two weeks ago. These are the two we’ll use in rolling exotic play.

The Pick-6 begins in the third race, a second-level allowance sprint for fillies and mares. #2 Tiz Molly was rusty in her recent comeback but shouldn’t be today; Kruljac’s record with second-off-layoff runners is strong and the Tiz Wonderful filly won her only start (her debut) over this track last year. She’s worked well since raced so we’re expecting a major forward move. #5 Our Pure Creation beat a softer field in clever style last month, switches to Bejarano, and is a field without a whole lot of zip could be on or near the lead throughout.

Bottom-rung older maiden claimers meet over seven furlongs in the fourth race. The class-dropping #5 Goyan looks very much like the controlling speed and if he can shake loose early without being sent hard he could easily dominate this group gate-to-wire. He continues to look good in the morning for Gaines. #4 Take a Risk seems like the best of the closing types and should be heard from in the final furlong. We should be able to get by using only these two.

A rare starter handicap ushers in the late Pick-4 in the fifth race, a one-mile turf event featuring high weighted (122 lbs.) #8 Macias. Stretching out again, the veteran gelding seems likely to establish the running and take them as far as he can. A mile probably is his limit but against this group he’ll be tough to catch if he turns in one of his better efforts. #5 Nahem is a first-off-the-claim for Hollendorfer and is protected, a positive sign. Ideally he’ll draft in behind Macias and be ready to pounce if the pacesetter fails to see out the trip. These are the two we’ll prefer but feel free to use a few more if you can afford to.

The sixth race is another event that may require a spread in rolling exotic play; we’ll use three and hope that’s enough. #4 Magic Number is genuine and consistent and is realistically spotted in this open $12,500 affair after beating $16,000 restricted (nw-3) foes last time out. She has rising speed figures and continues to impress in the morning. #8 Mahalo Princess, away since May of last year, has plenty of speed and could be dangerous if ready. She seems to be training nicely at San Luis Rey Downs and has run very well on convention dirt in the past. #9 Zee Chris likes to finish third more than anything else but could make a run for it with this slight drop in class.

The featured seventh race is an entry-level nine furlong grass affair for fillies and mares. #5 Scooter Bird turned in an excellent performance when third last time out against what we believe was a tougher field than the one she faces today; the Sadler-trained daughter of War Pass switches to Smith and looks capable of producing the last run. We like her on top but we’ll also toss #8 Somethingabouther. She’s 1-for-18 and certainly not one to trust, but she has tactical speed in a field without pace and her close-up fourth two runs back charts very well against this group.

The nightcap is a surprisingly strong straight maiden sprint for California-bred fillies and mares. #6 Runningwiththelute has shown high speed in the morning for Koriner and looks extremely live first crack out of the box. She’s a “must use” along with the proven element, #12 Shakeitupbetty, a Kruljac-trained filly with improving speed figures. From her outside draw she can employ stalking tactics if the situation calls for it, and with an impressive work tab since her last race the daughter of Ghostzapper can be expected to produce another forward move.