Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thu., May 1, 2014)

Kentucky Derby week begins with an eight-race Thursday program (first post 1 p.m.).

The opener is a 2-year-old dash that should find #8 Wake Up Nick receiving plenty of wagering support. Bred to be very quick (Cindago) and showing excellent speed in a recent gate drill, the O’Neill-trained colt seems cranked up and ready to win right now. He’s 5/2 on the morning line but don’t be surprised if he leaves considerably lower.

The second race, a middle distance maiden claimer, seems like a good spot for #5 Roman Tizzy to earn his diploma. He’s being raised from the bottom $20,000 level to $30,000 Company but this is an extremely weak race and ‘Tizzy holds a considerable edge against his modest foes in the speed figure department. Talamo should have him along in time but at 7/5 on the morning line Eurton-trained gelding offers very little in the way of wagering value.

The pick-6 begins with the third race. #7 Christopher Street was sharp beating subsequent stakes winner Awesome Return in a highly-rated state-bred allowance race in late March and has trained smartly since. The Sadler-trained gelding tackles open company today but with continued improvement he’ll be very tough right back. #2 Boyett should be the controlling speed and if not pressured early figures to take this group a long way on the front end. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics.

#7 Old Pueblo didn’t have the healthiest of patterns in the fourth race; he was coming off a maiden win but was being dropped from $20,000 to $12,500 in his first-off-the-claim for Aguirre. Not surprisingly, he was a vet scratch this morning, leaving this race completely wide open with nothing to trust. Best advice is to use as many as you can afford to in rolling exotic play; we find the affair inscrutable and will simply pass.

A decent field of maiden fillies and mares meet at a mile and one-sixteenth over the main track in the fifth race. #7 Front Range stretches out after just one sprint prep (we’d prefer two) and certainly is bred to run long, being by Giant’s Causeway from the terrific race mare Lakeway. Her debut wasn’t bad at all and she’s trained quite well since, so we’re anticipating a major forward move. We’ll also include #1 Shapely, a promising runner-up in her debut down the hill and today switching to the main track, stretching out, and adding Lasix. Ellis is superb with second-time starters, plus the daughter of Empire Maker lands the good rail and retains Talamo. She’s the one to fear most.

#6 Rhagori was scratched out of a stakes last weekend for this softer allowance affair in the sixth race and we’re expecting the Callaghan-trained mare to return to winning form. She’s shortening up to a mile, the distance of her nice score two races back, and the English-bred mare looks clearly the class of the field. However, at 9/5 on the morning line and with Bejarano riding her back, she probably will go lower and not offer much wagering value. We can still use her as a rolling exotic single.

The featured seventh race is a good state-bred sprint for 3-year-old fillies and we like the Bay Area shipper #4 Frisco Fog on top. An extremely quick daughter of Idiot Proof, she has rising speed figures and has room for further improvement. There’s plenty of value here at 9/2 on the morning line if you can get it. #1 Cause Ur My Babe seems like the best of the local contingent; the Puype-trained filly is a fit on numbers and returns to the allowance ranks after winding up a distant though respectable third in the Evening Jewel Stakes last month.

The nightcap is a strong (for the level) $25,000 claiming turf router for fillies and mares and probably requires a spread in rolling exotic play. We’ll try to get by using just three. #4 Highly Rated puts blinkers on and will certainly try gate-to-wire tactics; she’s winless on this course in six starts but this shortened trip makes her a threat to keep going. #6 Elegant came off a long layoff to run credibly when third against $32,000 foes; she drops a notch, switches to Baze (while picking up eight lbs.) and should inherit a good pace stalking position. #8 Joeandbetty’sbaby, first off the claim for Cerin, was beaten as the choice recently in a downhill turf dash but she retains Bejarano and looks capable of producing a dangerous late kick.