Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., May 17, 2014)

There’s an early first post of 11:30 a.m. for Preakness at Santa Anita. A challenging 11-race program awaits along with a $52,534 Pick-6 carryover.

In the opener, #6 L T Reckless plummets to the $16,000 level after finishing far back in the Santa Paula Stakes. A repeat of her race before last – a highly-rated starter’s allowance victory – crushes this field, but is the class drop an ominous sign? Tread lightly.

We’ll go two-deep in the second race, a $12,500 sprint. Though he’s moving up from the $8,000 level (an open race), #5 Shining Son is actually tackling an easier group today in this restricted (nw-2) affair and rates a big look. He’s a late-running sprinter getting an extra furlong to work with and should be heard from in the final furlong. #3 Pass the Pico is the one to fear most, though his 1-for-16 career record makes him hard to trust. The Canani-trained gelding earned a giant figure when second in his race before last and if runs back to that performance today he should get up in time.

The third race, a first-level middle distance allowance event, appears to have two main contenders. #4 Seeking the West was beaten as the favorite vs. similar last time out but earned a career top speed figure in the process and any type of forward move today will likely land him in the winner’s circle. #3 Honduran has the blinkers-off angle working for him while retaining Nakatani and looks like the most dangerous of the closers.

The American Handicap is carded as the fourth race and brings back #2 Obviously for his first start since finishing fifth behind Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He’s been working like his old self for new trainer D’Amato and we’re expecting the veteran gelding to establish the pace and be tough to run down. #1 Winning Prize, arguably the best middle distance turf horse in the West, is strictly the one to beat and from his inside draw should inherit a perfect ground-saving trip. Either one can win so we’ll use both in our rolling exotics.

We’ll go three deep in the fifth race, a contentious $20,000 claiming sprint. #10 Carlot Cowboy is an interesting Oaklawn Park invader in the Autrey barn and is a “must use” in rolling exotic play. He has back numbers that are good enough to win on this circuit and he should enjoy clear sailing outside under Talamo. There’s some value here at 8-1 on the morning line. #3 Explain is a dangerous class dropping with a winning spirit for Sadler and is fast on numbers, so he’s the one to beat. #6 Courtside has plenty of back class and though he doesn’t quite have his old quickness he can still beat you from off the pace.

The Pick-6 begins with the sixth race and small ticket players may consider singling #9 Incline Village. Lightly-raced and improving with racing, the Koriner-trained gelding lands the cozy outside post for his first start since mid-March and recent drills indicate he’s right on edge. Also, his speed figures continue to rise with every outing. Talamo should have him on or near the lead throughout. For insurance you may want to consider using as a backup #3 Back to Bako, a course specialist coming off a sharp state-bred win over this course and distance with a strong number. He may be the quickest of the quick.

Maiden claimers sprint five and one-half furlongs in the seventh race, a below par affair that should be won by either #2 Real Deal Appeal or #6 Slewissurfing. The former has been away since last summer but his workouts at Los Alamitos seem decent enough and Aguirre has superior stats with layoff runners. The latter is improving with racing for Ellis and should very much appreciate shortening up a furlong today.

The eighth race is another maiden claimer, this one over a mile on turf. #7 Public Interest exits a series of straight maiden state-bred affairs and should find this group considerably easier. He looks like the most dangerous of the closing types. #1 Indian Gods, away for more than a year, can be a factor if he returns as well as he left and his recent drills look fairly decent. #9 Misdeed gets the worst of the draw and he’s had nine chances but the Mandella-trained gelding really won’t have to improve much to win and he ran pretty well when third in a similar spot last month.

The Angel’s Flight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs is carded as the ninth race. #2 Midnight Dream catches a favorable pace scenario and looks like the best of the speed types. She continues to impress in the morning for Baffert and may have some improvement in her. #1 D’ya Knowwhatimean is a consistent sort with rising speed figures and switches to Talamo. If she can work out a clean trip from the rail she’ll be in the battle throughout. #7 Delta Flower is shy in the speed figure department but she debuts for Hollendorfer and quite likely has plenty of upside. It’ll be interesting to see if this Arkansas-bred filly can act on this circuit.

Maiden fillies and mares sprint down the Hillside course in the 10th race; we’ll go three deep and hope that’s enough. #1 Warren’s Jen Fizz is stuck on the rail but she’s improving with racing and will be tough if she can draft into a stalking position. #5 Exclusive Girl, third in the same race that ‘Fizz finished second in, switches to bug boy Van Dyke and gets a break in the weights. Debuting #11 Asparagus is bred for turf (Kitten’s Joy) and has shown enough in the morning to warrant serious consideration.

The finale is a starter’s allowance sprint that requires a bit of a spread. #9 Fly Roy Boy looks like the one to beat; the Hollendorfer-trained colt didn’t get untracked down the Hillside course last time out but this return to the main track should make a huge difference. He switches to Smith and seems capable of producing the last run. #3 Glitter of Silver looked decent breaking his maiden recently and earned a useful figure; with another forward move he should be a fit in this league. #1 Fight the Power, first off the claim for Autrey, is an Oaklawn Park shipper with intriguing form and numbers that match. He should be prominent throughout from the rail.