Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., April 19, 2014)

Racing resumes after a six day break (seems like longer!) with a strong program offering a number of attractive wagering opportunities.

The opener drew just five entrants, so there’s not a whole lot we can do with it. #5 Valley Cat returns from the Bay Area and rejoins the Eurton barn; the deep-closing gelding is reunited with Bejarano (who has won on him in the past) and always has liked the Santa Anita main track. He should be able to produce the last run. #3 Timeless Indy, first off the claim for Glatt (30% with a strong flat-bet profit), is back on the main track, continues to look sharp in the morning, and very likely will produce a strong forward move.

#5 Boozer was ignored at 20-1 in his recent comeback but the Glatt-trained gelding was extra sharp in producing a gate-to-wire win over this course and distance against a similar entry-level allowance field last month. He’s trained well since, so there’s no reason to expect anything but another strong effort in today’s second race. We’ll make him a rolling exotic single, but at 9/5 on the morning line and probably descending, the Unusual Heat gelding probably won’t offer much value in the straight pool.

#1 Yahilwa was overmatched in graded stakes company in her last pair but is realistically spotted in today’s third event, a first-level allowance affair over a distance of ground for fillies and mares. Winless in the U.S. but with very strong speed figures and a healthy work pattern for Cassidy, the English import seems to have found her proper level today. We’ll also include in rolling exotic play #6 Sagebrush Queen, a lightly-raced and improving state-bred filly fresh from a nice sprint score with a career top number. She has yet to run well routing but both of her two-turn tries came on turf, so we’ll give her one more chance.

The fourth race kicks off the Pick-6; it’s a rare starter’s handicap with five of the eight runners sharing high weight of 121 lbs. #7 Kerrilyn was impressive winning a recent downhill turf sprint by setting blistering fractions and then holding sway; this will be her first try routing and she’s very likely to be the controlling speed. If she can relax early she’ll take them a very long way. #4 Toppers Sunshine and #5 Ronda Rocks are a pair of Turf Paradise invaders with solid recent form and both have a right to run well on this circuit based on speed figures.

The fifth race is a difficult starter’s allowance main track miler and probably requires a spread in rolling exotic play. #5 A P Pepper returns to the main track and a repeat of her race before last will put her right in the thick of things. She’s also back with Van Dyke and gets a weight break. #1 Silk in Silver had little behind her in taking maiden claimers gate-to-wire last month but she retains Bejarano and may be capable of further improvement. #3 Lake Maracaibo, freshened since February, stretches out again and could be the speed of the speed. Best advice is to use as many as you can afford to.

#6 Big Medicine Man should have been a lot closer when second, beaten just under three lengths, in a maiden $50,000 claimer last month and could pay immediate dividends for new trainer Diodoro, whose record with first-off-claims has been outstanding this meeting. The son of Indian Charlie was caught in heavy traffic from the far turn until straightened into the stretch and once clear took hold to finish full of run, but too late. With clear sailing today he can graduate against what appears to be a below par field of straight maidens. #1 Lord Lochinvar makes just his third career start (first on turf) and the son of A. P. Indy clearly has plenty of room to improve. He’ll be the one to beat if he takes to the lawn. #8 Aqua Revelation has hit the board in six of eight career starts and should at least get a piece of it again today.

A good group of straight maidens sprint six furlongs in the seventh race. #9 Midnight Storm flashed promise in his debut, finishing a solid second in a legitimate race, and we’re expecting a major forward move today with the switch to Bejarano from a comfortable outside draw. We like him on top but we’ll also use #2 Shakahari, a speed-and-fade sixth in his well-meant debut last July and returning for Cerin with a series of strong drills to indicate he’s better than that race shows. #6 Cruz also deserves a look; the Ellis-trained gelding has trained like he’s fit and ready though this barn doesn’t often with debut runners.

The La Puente Stakes at nine furlongs on turf for 3-year-olds is the eighth race feature and brings back #6 Enterprising, already a two-time grass stakes winner including the Pasadena over this course last month. Today’s extra furlong won’t bother him at all, and Stevens should have the son of Elusive Quality in an ideal pace stalking position. #7 Home Run Kitten, a closing third behind Enterprising in the Pasadena, also should be aided by today’s distance and with just four prior starts the Hofmans-trained colt likely has plenty of improvement in him.

The nightcap is an abbreviated maiden claiming sprint for California-breds that looks a bit tricky. #3 Tavern Law was 2-1 in a four-runner straight maiden sprint in his debut in late-February but was virtually eased over a wet fast track that he may not have cared for. He continues to impress in the morning, drops in for $50,000, retains Talamo, and removes blinkers. Beware. #2 Glitter of Silver earned a good figure when second in a straight maiden affair in October; it’s a little puzzling why he’s returning in a claimer. #8 Gospel Music also has the first-time-in-a-claimer angle and switches to Bejarano; the Dollase-trained should be prominent throughout and have every chance.