Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sunday, May 11, 2014)

The Mother’s Day program begins 1 p.m. with a nine card that does not offer a stakes race but still has plenty of wagering opportunities.

There’s little to work with in the opener, a six-runner bottom-rung maiden claimer. #2 Ice Cream Truck (even money) and #5 Goyan (6/5) will get the bulk of the support; both are stretching out for the first time. Goyan would appear to be the quicker of the two and if he can shake loose early without much pressure he may keep going. There is no effective late speed in the field.

We’ve been waiting a long time for Midnight Transfer to get a shot on grass and the opportunity arrives in the second race, a strong conditioned allowance Hillside turf sprint. Bred to love the lawn (by Hard Spun, who actually never raced on turf but has sired a number of good grass runners), the Gaines-trained horse has the proper style for the course and should be rolling in the final furlong. As this is penned, we’re not sure who will replace the injured Bejarano. At 5-1 on the morning line there’s plenty of value here, though we suspect you’ll have settle for a point or two less on the tote.

In the third race, #1 Friendswith K Mill, overmatched in both the Santa Anita Derby and the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs in his last pair, gets realistic today while dropping into an entry-level allowance affair and should make the most of the opportunity. The O’Neill-trained colt figures to draft into a comfortable second flight, ground-saving position and have every chance. #4 Arkenstone has improving speed figures and with another forward move could be the one to fear most. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.

State-bred maidens sprint down the hill in the fourth race and we’re expecting a huge run from the Golden Gate shipper Aftermarketslam. The son of the top turf runner After Market flashed some ability when second in his debut up north and today gets his shot over the surface that he was bred to enjoy. He’s trained well locally for Hollendorfer and doesn’t appear to have all that much to beat, so let’s make him a straight play and rolling exotic single and hope to get somewhere in the neighborhood of his 7/2 morning line odds.

The fifth race is a restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claiming sprint for fillies and mares and marks the return of #2 Hugger of Trees. Claimed for $16,000 by Spawr in December, she’s brought back above that price in what we’ll take as a sign of confidence and has trained like a much better type for her new connections. Go-to rider Delgadillo takes the call and in a modest affair the daughter of Sharp Humor looks tough to beat. We’ll accept her morning line odds of 5/2 if we can get it.

Bottom-rung $8,000 claimers meet over a mile in the sixth race. Rather than spread the affair, we’ll take a stand and single the old-timer #5 Mensa Heat, a winner of 10 races during his long, blue-collar career. He’s still going strong, having beaten a similar field earlier this meeting, and is coming off a solid runner-up try five weeks ago. However, as his 9/5 morning line would attest, he doesn’t offer a whole lot of value, so we’ll probably not get too heavily involved.

High-priced ($75,000) maiden claimers sprint down the hill in the seventh race and we’ll double the race in rolling exotic play. #6 Nazareth, first off the claim for Palma, finished a close third in a similar affair last month and really won’t have to improve much to graduate today. Bejarano was originally named to ride, so check the changes to see who’ll inherit the mount. #8 La Pequena returns to the maiden claiming ranks for the first time since she was claimed for $50,000 in her debut and the Glatt-trained filly should appreciate the softer company. She’s a route-to-sprint play as well, so we’ll be expecting the daughter of Sky Mesa to be running on strongly late.

The eighth race is a high-level allowance sprint for distaffers that has two main contenders. #1 Tizmetizyou looks clearly like the controlling speed and if she breaks running from the rail the Koriner-trained filly could be long gone. She’s only had two prior starts over conventional dirt but she trains well on the main track so the surface switch should be no issue. #3 Maker or Breaker looks on paper to be prepping for a route try but don’t forget she won her debut sprinting from far off the pace and her recent works indicate she’s fit and ready. She’s also won two out of three career starts over the Santa Anita main track.

The nightcap is another state-bred turf sprint – it’s a split of the fourth race – and looks like a proper spot for the second-time starter #2 Diablo Caballero. Fourth when beaten just two lengths in a promising debut over this course and distance last month, the Kruljac-trained gelding should be fitter and tougher today and looks very much like the speed of the speed under Nakatani. #5 It Is Living Water represents the most dangerous of the closing types; the Good Journey gelding is a route-to-sprint play for Avila and a repeat of his race-before-last puts him right in the thick of things.