Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., April 26, 2014)

It’s Gold Rush Day at Santa Anita on Saturday with an 11-race program featuring several good races for California-breds. First post is 1:00 p.m. There’s a $61,540 Pick-6 carryover (races 6 thru 11).

The opener, a mile turf allowance affair for 3-year-olds, finds #6 Famous Alice as the logical favorite and she may go lower than her morning line odds of 9/5. Stretching out for the first time and certainly bred to handle the extra ground, the daughter of Kitten’s Joy has the powerful blinkers-off angle going for her following a solid runner-up try down the hill in the Sweet Life Stakes. The one she’ll have to worry about is the Drysdale import, #5 Amnesia. Her Racing Post numbers last year during her juvenile campaign were good, she’s a first-time Lasix user, and her local works have been impressive.

The second race is a competitive state-bred maiden extended sprint, with #6 K Thirty Eight and #1 Next Book both exiting the same race, a fairly strong affair in mid-March that earned a decent speed figure. They finished noses apart when second and third, respectively, and are hard to separate again, so we’ll use both in rolling exotic play. Stranger danger comes with #8 Chattering Gambler, a first-timer by Dixie Chatter with a very nice series of drills. The barn doesn’t win often with debut runners but at 12-1 on the morning line this colt may be worth tossing in.

Maiden claimers sprint five and one-half furlongs in the third race and a little will go a very long way. #10 Boom Boys brought $32,000 at Ocala last June after breezing a quarter in 21 4/5 seconds and shows up in a very soft $20,000 claimer for his debut. He’s trained well enough for O’Neill of late to act at this level and is a “must use” in rolling exotic play. #9 Fifteen Black seems like the best of the known element; the Bonde-trained gelding has good early speed but gave way readily under pressure against tougher foes in both of his local starts this year. He should stick a whole lot better against this group.

The Fran’s Valentine Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares over a mile on turf is carded as the fourth race and offers a rematch between #3 Unusual Way and #4 Halo Dolly, one-two finishers in the Dream of Summer Stakes at this distance on the main track last month. Unusual Way was 50 cents on the dollar but after allowing ‘Dolly an easy front-running trip couldn’t quite catch her in the final furlong. With the switch to Bejarano, the Bonde-trained filly will have every chance to make amends. Halo Dolly has won 18 of 37 career starts but is zero-for-three over the local lawn (though her overall record on turf is a sensational 11-for-22). She’ll be the one to fear most again, so both should be included in rolling exotic play. We’ll slightly prefer Unusual Way on top.

The fifth race is the Tiznow Stake at a mile on the main track and with the expected scratch of #4 Lakeville (he ran yesterday) the field is reduced to six, each one with legitimate credentials to win. #1 Rousing Sermon was overmatched in the Big ‘Cap but isn’t today and retains Bejarano. #2 So Phet can act with these off his best race but is winless in seven starts over the Santa Anita main track. #3 Storm Fighter is sharp and improving and might be the controlling speed. #5 Kate’s Event loves this track but always has been most comfortable as a late-running sprinter. #6 China Prince looked super winning up north but may need turf or synthetic to be at his best. And #7 Toledo Eddie has excellent speed figures sprinting and is 3-for-4 lifetime over the Santa Anita main track but is questionable going long. The bottom line is that we really don’t have a feel for the race so we’ll pass and simply punch the “all” button in our rolling exotic play.

The Pick-6 begins with the sixth race, a maiden state-bred miler affair on grass and presents an excellent price opportunity. #7 Durango Flier ran much better than the line will show in his debut, breaking bit slowly and falling far back early and then finding his best stride into the lane and closing with courage without being knocked about. He galloped out extremely well under Talamo and seems sure to improve a bunch over a distance of ground and on turf, as one might expect from a son of Good Journey. In a field in which most of the main contenders have been thoroughly exposed, this Eurton-trained colt figures to step forward considerably. At 5-1 on the morning line he’s a straight play and rolling exotic single in our book.

State-bred fillies and mare sprint six furlongs in the seventh race, the Spring Fever Stakes, and there are at least three main contenders and arguably a couple more. #1 Marks Mine might be the speed of the speed, though she’ll have to leave sharply from the rail to insure that role. A winner of half of her 16 career starts, this genuine and consistent daughter of Benchmark is tough on any surface and Alvarado flies down to ride her. #6 Our Pure Creation seeks he third straight score while moving up the class ladder; she earned a career top speed figure in her most recent victory and with another forward move she’ll be right there with these. #7 Warren’s Venda, freshened since December and exiting graded stakes company, earned a career top speed in her one and only try over the Santa Anita main track (a seven length romp) and is clearly the most dangerous of the off-the-pace types. We’ll try to survive using only these three but it’s a tough affair top to bottom.

First-level California-breds square off at nine furlongs on turf in the eighth race; it’s an inscrutable affair and nothing would surprise us. Among those that should be considered for rolling exotic play include #4 Harness Mentality (held on pretty well after getting into a suicidal speed duel last time out); #6 Volkonsky (returns to turf and retains Bejarano), and #9 Gallant Charm (should appreciate nine furlongs and usually gets at least a piece of it). Toss in anybody else that you feel has a chance.

The co-featured $250,000 Melair Stakes brings together a number of 3-year-old California-bred fillies who have faced each other several times in the past. #2 Rovenna is a classy sprinter trying two-turns again; she’s strong in the figure department and might be mature enough now to carry her speed this far. #1 Swiss Lake Yodeler once was good enough though she’s clearly not in the same form now as she was last fall during her two-year-old season. #5 Anniversary Kitty tries the main track for the first time and she certainly has much more of a dirt pedigree than she does for turf. There’s lots of question marks here, so tread lightly or spread as deeply as you can afford to.

The Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds colts is carded as the 10th race; it’s a strong nine-furlong turf affair with several possibilities. We loved the manner in which #8 Patriots Rule beat a starter’s allowance field over this course in his first try around two turns and his first on grass; this is clearly a much stronger field but the son of Tribal Rule should handle the extra ground and can really turn it on late. Don’t underestimate him. #6 Tamarando flopped at Turfway Park in the Spiral Stakes; today he tries turf for the first time and is reunited with Bejarano. There should be enough early speed in the field to compliment his deep-closing style. #4 Awesome Return is rapidly improving with each start and clearly is much more comfortable on turf. This nine furlong journey should be right up his alley.

The finale is a restricted $20,000 claiming sprint; #1 Southern Sunrise, second off a layoff for Puype, is plenty fast on figures though this drop from starter’s allowance company down to $16,000 isn’t the healthiest of signs. If he breaks running from the rail the Dehere gelding will be tough to catch. #11 Jovita’s Tuffy, first off the claim for Ellis, likes this track and looks like the most dangerous of the closing types. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.