Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., May 3, 2014)

Kentucky Derby day at Santa Anita offers an 11-race program with early first post of 11:30 a.m.

The opener, a restricted claiming sprint for fillies and mares, has little depth and should be won by either #5 Truly Beautiful or #6 Real Bright Boots, though neither are what you’d call trustworthy. The former drops to her lowest level ever, retains Talamo, and probably beats this field with a repeat of her race before last. The latter, freshened for three months, returns cheap and could get brave if she can establish a clear lead. Tread lightly here.

The second race, a bottom-rung maiden claiming sprint for distaffers, doesn’t have too much to offer, either. #9 Gisele At Fonz’s faded when even money vs. tougher last month but should stick better at this level. #11 Puttybadshark returned off a long vacation to finish a respectable second in a similar affair and any type of forward move will make her hard to beat. She retains Talamo, has worked nicely since raced, and goes for a trainer (Koriner) who has excellent stats with second-off-layoff runners.

The third race is a fairly competitive starter’s allowance sprint for fillies and mares and probably requires a bit of a spread in rolling exotic play. #2 My Monet won at first asking and was claimed, has trained well since for her new connections and should move forward with experience. On pure numbers she’s right there with these. #3 Moscato Girl is plenty quick and will be part of the pace for as long as she can stick around. She returns to the main track and switches to hot riding Baze. #6 On Golden Pawn, away since July, has trained like a better type this time around for Jones and her maiden claiming speed figure from last year would beat this field. We’ll use these three but feel free to toss in anybody else that you deem a contender.

The Desert Code, a Hillside turf sprint for 3-year-olds, is carded as the fourth race. #1 Schoolofhardrocks won’t have California Chrome to worry about today and this return to sprinting and the switch to turf should make a huge difference for the still-promising colt in Hofmans’ barn. Bejarano will have him rolling in the final furlong. #3 Forever Juanito has low profile connections and probably is a bit underrated; he’s a nice turf sprinter and may wind up being the controlling speed. He’ll be tough to catch if she can shake loose early.

Starter allowance foes meet over a mile on the main track in the fifth race; a difficult handicapping challenge. #7 Brave Act and #8 Wonderful Union know each other well and both are good enough to win a race like this off their best efforts. #9 Mavericks Gun was quite sharp breaking his maiden against bottom-rungers at seven furlongs recently; he earned a powerful speed figure in the process and today we’ll find out if can project that kind of form around two turns from outside post. We’ll include these three in our rolling exotics but not with a great degree of confidence.

The Pick-6 begins with the sixth race, a strong maiden special weight sprint for state-bred fillies and mares. #10 Afleet Echo has done everything right in the morning for Glatt and looks cranked up for a huge effort in her debut. She’s drawn comfortably outside and attracts Bejarano. #6 Mindfully also has impressed in the morning and she’s a half-sister to Yankee Gentleman, a high-class sprinter several years ago. The main knock is that the Ellis barn rarely wins with first-time starters but we’ll toss in her nonetheless. The best of the known element would appear to be #8 Swiss Perfection, a promising runner-up in her debut last month and removing blinkers for a stable that does well with second-time starters.

The seventh race is a slalom event for older $25,000 claimers and is your typical grass grab bag. #6 Macias won under these conditions three races back and his last pair (a dirt sprint and a turf route) can be ignored. His best should be good enough; let’s just hope he can produce. #4 Showme Yourfriends returns to his winning level and has won over this course in the past, plus he gains Bejarano in what will be his third start off a layoff. These are the two small ticket players should consider; if you can afford to go deeper by all means do so.

The eighth race is a loaded entry-level allowance sprint that marks the return of #4 Saticoy, a runaway debut winner over a wet track here in January of 2013 but unraced since. He returns with a work tab that should have him fit and ready, and if he displays the same kind of quickness that he showed in his only start he’ll be hard to run down. #10 Chicsdigtheshark is as tough veteran sprinter with several recent speed figures that are better than par, and he has won half of his eight career starts over this main track. #11 Master Chef, first off the claim for Diodoro (30% with a flat-bet profit), will have clear sailing outside and the old pro loves to win and is especially effective over the Santa Anita main track. He should inherit a lovely, second flight, stalking position.

The ninth race is a first-level optional claimer over a mile on turf and #2 Trelawny, first off the claim for Hollendorfer and training especially well for his new barn, appears ready to explode. Drawn nicely inside and retaining Baze, the veteran gelding is better than his last race shows and should draft into a perfect ground-saving, second-flight position. He’ll fire today. #5 Avare likes to set or force the pace and should find himself in the firing line throughout. He’s partial to this turf course and continues to impress in the morning for Belvoir. #7 Hog Hollow won a similar affair back in February and sports a solid work tab in recent weeks to indicate another top effort is in store. We’ll toss him in even though he loses Bejarano today.

The Precisionist Stakes, a middle distance main-track affair carrying Grade 3 status, finds #7 Fury Kapcori as the logical top pick as the son of Tiznow seeks his fourth straight score, his most recent victory in the Santana Mile earning a career-top figure. Because he’s drawn outside the other speed, Bejarano could employ stalking tactics, though the Hollendorfer-trained colt probably is quick enough to establish the running if such a strategy is preferred. Either way, he is simply better than these so we’ll make him a rolling exotic single.

The finale is a maiden claiming turf miler for fillies and mares. #4 Always an Angel is listed at 10-1 on the morning line but she’s a whole lot better than that and we’re expecting her to beat this field. The daughter of Corinthian was sixth and last in her debut but that was a monster sprint race that already has produced a next-out maiden special weight winner in Front Range. The Kruljac-trained filly has trained quite well since that race while giving every indication that she will adore a distance of ground and turf (she’s bred for both). Let’s make her a straight play and knock-out rolling exotic single.