Horse owner, breeder and HRTV analyst Jeff Siegel also happens to be Southern California's premier handicapper. Check his blog each day before you play!
Handicapping, in short, refers to analyzing the race to come up with best predicted outcome, or pick. There are many angles when it comes to picking a winner. Using some of the help from the professional handicappers below, you can determine your own angle on placing a bet. For more information on how to bet or wager, click here.
SIXTH RACE - #2 SMART SPENDING
This Western Canadian invader makes his local debut in a starter’s allowance event that seems well within his abilities. A winner of his debut sprinting, he was tossed into the B.C. Derby in just his second career start and was pressed into a blazing pace before fading over a sloppy track. Freshened and working quite well for Carla Gaines, the son of Smarty Jones lands a good inside post and Gomez and appears cranked up and ready to roll. At 4-1 on the morning line he represents value both in the straight pools and in any rolling exotic you might want to play.
NINTH RACE - #1 PHOTO SHOPPED x #6 ROCK SO HARD x #7 SHAMINO x 9 HUSBAND’S FOLLY
This is a wide open maiden turf sprint down the hill and offers some price opportunities. Photo Shopped finished far back in the blazing maiden dash won by The Factor on opening day but he’s trained like a much better type in recent weeks for Canani and seems sure to improve in this softer spot. Pedroza stays aboard and the son of Mr. Greeley could be a nice knockout horse in the Pick-6. He’s 8-1 on the morning line and worth every bit of that. Rock So Hard flashed ability in his only outing last summer at Del Mar, has trained well enough for his return, and is bred to enjoy grass (Rock Hard Ten). The Baffert-trained colt should come out firing. Shamino has trained like he’s got some talent for Shirreffs and while this stable rarely wins with debut runners, this son of Elusive Quality has a chance at a price (8-1) and should be used somewhere in your exotics. And Husband’s Folly has turf breeding on both sides of his pedigree, has an improving pattern for Puype, and looks like a live item with the switch to Bejarano. We’ll use these four in exacta/trifecta/superfecta boxes and in our rolling exotics as well.
SECOND RACE - #2 ELLE DEHERE
Purchased privately since her last race, Elle Dehere makes her first start for the Hollendorfer stable and makes a major jockey switch to Bejarano. After winning at first asking in a maiden claimer, the daughter of Dehere ran better than the line will show when sixth in a downhill turf sprint. In that race she broke slowly and then finishing steadily before galloping out well to indicate she’ll enjoy today’s added ground. She’s drawn comfortably inside, figures to enjoy a nice pace stalking trip and beats this crew with another forward move. We like her as a rolling exotic single and straight play at close to her 5/2 morning line odds.
EIGHTH RACE - #1 ST TRINIANS x #2 VISION IN GOLD x #3 WASHINGTON BRIDGE
St Trinians is the logical Santa Maria Stakes selection but at 8/5 on the morning line she doesn’t offer much in the way of value. This will be her first start since June and her first try on dirt, so enough doubt exists to prevent us from embacing her as a rolling exotic single. Vision in Gold is thoroughly untested at this level but she’s improving for good trainer Ellis, continues to train like a high quality sort and should be strongly considered at anywhere close to her morning line odds of 8-1. The rapidly improving Washington Bridge gets her toughest test yet while seeking her fourth straight score. She earned a career top 90 Beyer figure in her Bayakoa Handicap win in December at Hollywood Park and if she moves forward only slightly she’ll be the battle throughout. All three are worth using in your rolling exotics and in an exacta/trifecta box as well.
SECOND RACE - #2 DAVE’S RULER
First off the claim for Julio Canani, Dave’s Ruler seems sure to improve a bunch and a recent sharp workout indicates that he is indeed headed in the right direction. Rosario rides him back and should have this son of Maria’s Mon within striking range in a field lacking in early speed. First or second in six of 11 career starts, Dave’s Ruler seems quite capable of producing the last run and represents value in both the straight pools and rolling exotics at anywhere near his 5/2 morning line odds.
SIXTH RACE - #5 LUKIMBI x 6 SHORT MEMO x 11 LICHTENSTEIN
This is a fairly competitive restricted $25,000 claimer and the three listed above should comprise a good exacta or trifecta box. All three should be used in your rolling exotics, as well. Lukimbi has worked well for his comeback, has some back speed figures that make him a threat and could be dangerous from off the pace at this extended sprint distance. He’s worth using at 8-1 on the morning line. Short Memo drops to a realistic level and is another who does his best running from off the pace. He’s a fit on figures and switches to Gomez, so this Walsh-trained gelding is a “must use” at 4-1 on the morning line. Lichtenstein broke his maiden in a high priced claimer recently with a strong number and is realistically spotted in this restricted affair. He’s a lightly raced 4-year-old and no doubt has had his issues, but Bejarano should have him within range throughout and he won’t have to improve much at all to score right back.
FIFTH RACE - 4 JAX EL x 6 TIZ A BUD GIRL
Jax El made the running and kept on going to graduate in very sharp style down the hill last month and she’s returned to work exceptionally well since that race to indicate further improvement is likely. She’ll most likely establish the pace on stretch out and if not pressured early could be long gone once again. Tiz a Bud Girl, second in a solid first level allowance turf sprint recently, stretches out to what might be her best trip and the Sadler-trained filly seems the logical pick with Rosario staying aboard. These two should dominate and figure to comprise a formful exacta box.
SEVENTH RACE - 1 IRREFUTABLE
Irrefutable is unproven on turf and untested around two turns but he finds an ideal spot to prove he can do both in this competitive second level allowance event. The Baffert-trained horse lands the good inside post, catches a field without much early speed and should be the controlling speed. His sprint figures are strong, his recent workouts exceptional, and the son of Unbridled’s Song should like the lawn based on the sire of his dam, Kingmambo. Smith stays aboard and at 5/2 on the morning line, Irrefutable represents excellent value in both the straight pools and the rolling exotics.
SIXTH RACE - #1 GLADDING
This Sadler-trained gelding made his local debut in an overnight event in late December and was breathtaking in victory. Wide most of the way while pressing a hot pace, the son of Sarava disposed of his rivals on the turn and was pushed out to secure the victory with a huge speed figure, one that makes him very live right back despite the obvious raise in class. He lands the good rail, retains Bejarano and could be the controlling speed, though he clearly doesn’t need the lead to win. This barn has been on fire of late and should add to its collection of stakes victories in this important Big ‘Cap prep. We’ll take him with confidence at 5/2 on the morning line.
SEVENTH RACE = #4 MAGIC LAUNCH x #8 RUSSIAN RIVER x #9 SPEELER
Magic Launch has turned into a win machine of late and looks tough once again as she seeks her fifth straight score. Versatile and genuine, the daughter of Cee’s Tizzy is being brought back quickly and the short rest could make her vulnerable, but we respect her too much to toss her out. Russian River adds blinkers for the first time, is a solid fit on figures and may be most effective as a sprinter. Talamo should have her rolling late. Speeler, our top pick in the race, is improving as she acclimates for Knight and catches a field without a whole lot of early zip. She gets off the rail, retains Smith, has worked nicely of late and may very well be the controlling speed. She’s 4-1 on the morning line and that seems just about right. We’ll use these three in an exacta or trifecta box and in all of our rolling exotics as well.
FIFTH RACE - #4 SEPARATE FOREST x #5 SWEET HANNI
This downhill turf dash restricted to 4-year-0ld fillies looks like a good spot for first-off-the-claim Separate Forest, who recently handled a softer field in convincing style in fast time and catches a pace scenario that should have her tough right back on the raise. She might wind up being the controlling speed, but she doesn’t need the lead to win, and with P. Val taking over and a return to turf, the daughter of Forestry should be double tough right back. The danger comes from Sweet Hanni, freshened since September but training like she’s fit and ready for Cerin (excellent with layoff runners) and already proven over this course. Bejarano will have her rolling late and if the pace is fast to normal she could be hard to contain. We’ll use them both in an exacta box and in all of our rolling exotics.
SEVENTH RACE - #7 WALTZING SWAN x #9 SAMBA SCHOOL
Waltzing Swan encountered poor racing luck when trying to rally in deep stretch vs. tougher recently, drops for the money run today while retaining Gomez and should be tough to contain with clear sailing. She’s a route to sprint play with a good late kick and will be rolling late. Samba School, nosed out in a two-turn main track $25,000 affair last month, moves up a notch, returns to turf, turns back in trip and switches to Garcia. She, too, will be doing her best work late and if she can avoid traffic trouble the Mitchell-trained import figures right there. At 8-1 on the morning line, she’ll be out top pick, but we’ll use them both in all of our rolling exotics.