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.
SEVENTH RACE – 3 STREAKIN MOHICAN x 9 HOT DAMON x 11 NEXTDOORNEIGHBOR
This is a very competitive first level allowance event and if you’re playing the Pick-6 we suggest you use as many as you can afford to. We’ll boil it down to three, with slight preference to Streakin’ Mohican, a consistent sprinter who should appreciate this drop in class. The Hess-trained gelding earned a giant figure when demolishing an allowance field in the Bay Area two runs back and ran well right back when second in a tougher spot at Hollywood Park last month. He’s trained well of late so another top effort can be expected. Corey Nakatani picks up the mount from the injured P. Val. Hot Damon just won at this level against state breds and today tackles open company. He’s got the right style for this extended sprint distance, retains Rosario, and should be rolling late. Nextdoorneighbor, a route to sprint play and exiting the powerful and productive Sir Beaufort Stakes, should settle in mid pack and make his run late. He’s overdue for a win and shouldn’t have any excuses today.
NINTH RACE - #5 EL SCORPIO
Class dropper El Scorpio seems to have found a good spot to regain his winning form. Overmatched in the Miles Tyson Stakes last month at Hollywood Park, he drops to a realistic spot for O’Neill, switches to Bejarano and should be the best of the speed types. His effectiveness could be dictated by the amount of early zip Slam Slew displays; if he can shake loose from that one early, El Scorpio will be hard to handle. We like his chances at anything close to his 5-1 morning line odds.
EIGHTH RACE - #5 BLOEMER GIRL x 7 ADVANTAGE PLAYER x #9 CAMBINA
Bloemer Girl was visually very impressive winning a maiden sprint at Golden Gate Fields on New Year’s Day and earned a speed figure that makes her competitive in this overnight stakes down the hill for 3-year-old fillies. She’s bred for turf on both sides of her pedigree, sports a bullet blowout over the track four days ago and likely has plenty of improvement in her. At 15-1 on the morning line she represents extreme value and is a “must use” in your exotics. Bloemer Girl probably isn’t a need-the-lead type and might inherit a good stalking trip behind the likely pacesetter Advantage Player, who is being wheeled back quickly by Peter Miller following a sharp maiden tally over this course just nine days ago. The short rest is a concern, but if she can turn in two alike she’ll be able to handle the step up in class from maiden to stakes. With Rosario aboard, the 6-1 morning line odds on Advantage Player look fairly enticing and she’s another who should be included in any exotics you might be playing. Cambina represents stranger danger for the Bonde-Baze team. The Irish import makes her U.S. debut following a series of fairly useful performances last summer overseas, and the works indicate fitness. Based on her running lines from Ireland, she likes to settle early and take hold late and most likely will be the best of the closing types.
NINTH RACE – 2 PINK LOLLIPOPS x 4 SHOO GEE x 5 HOUT BAY
Pink Lollipops is another fast working first timer from the Bob Baffert barn – is there any other kind? – and she looks like a very live debut runner in what appears to be a fairly competitive abbreviated sprint for maiden 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Silver Deputy was plucked from the Ocala Breeders’ 2-year-old in training Sale for $110.000 last April; she previewed in :09 4/5 for a furlong, fastest work for the distance in the entire auction. We know Shoo Gee is quick – she showed much speed last spring as an early 2-year-old when second in a pair of solid races at Hollywood Park – and she returns for Walther Solis with a series of strong workouts to have her fit and ready for her comeback. She lands P. Val and likely will take them as far as she can. Hout Bay is a first timer from the John Sadler barn and is another who has displayed some quality in morning preps. The daughter of Harlan’s Holiday worked a half from the gate in :46 4/5 just five days ago; it was the fastest of 44 for the distance and a week earlier she worked six furlongs in 1:11 2/5, so there’s little doubt she’ll be fit to fire first crack out of the box. At 6-1 on the morning line, she seems particularly attractive. Let’s use all three in an exacta/trifecta box and all three should be used in any rolling exotics you might be playing.
SEVENTH RACE - #4 DAHOUD x #5 BRING IT HOME x #7 ALLEY HONDRO
This is a challenging first level allowance affair at a mile on turf and there are a few price possibilities to consider. Dahoud makes his second start in the States for Hollendorfer (excellent stats with second-off-layoff runners) and after getting his tightener at Hollywood Park last month the New Zealand-bred gelding should be set to stretch out and show us what he can do. He exits a live race, retains Rosario, is drawn comfortably inside and has come back to work very well recently. He’s been placed over a mile and three furlongs so the added distance won’t be an issue. Bring It Home has been off the track since August and he hasn’t been overly impressive in his comeback drills, but despite his 1-for-15 lifetime record he’s probably worth using in the exotics at 8-1 on the morning line. In the money in all four starts over the Santa Anita turf course, the Gonzalez-trained gelding has back figures that put him in the fray and Smith should have him running on strongly late. Alley Hondro isn’t particularly fast on numbers but he’s genuine and consistent and likely has further room for improvement good trainer Ellis. Clearly Rosario opted for Dahoud, so Talamo picks up the mount and he should have this Skimming gelding within striking range throughout. His morning line odds of 4-1 seem about right. If you need to go deeper in your rolling exotics (Pick-3, Pick-4, Pick-6) you might want to consider #10 Rauchenberg, who seems to be improving with racing for Jones. The outside box does him no favors, though he did break his maiden from the nine hole two races back at Hollywood Park. Tough race, to be sure, top to bottom a chance.
EIGHTH RACE - #2 FRIGID BRIDGET x #4 EXCESSIVELY TRICK x #6 BATHING BEAUTY x 8 SCREAMING REGAL
State bred maiden 3-year-old fillies contest this one mile nightcap and there are a few different directions you can go. For price players, consider #2 Frigid Bridget at 12-1 on the morning line. She has the classic stretch out pattern – two sprints with improving speed figures – and a pedigree that should allow her to enjoy the extra ground. She’s back with Flores, lands a comfortable inside post and continues to work like a filly who has more to give. Excessively Trick retains Rosario so we’re thinking there may be more than meets the eye. She also has a pair of sprint efforts underneath her and likely will try gate-to-wire tactics; her pedigree suggests she might be challenged by the two-turn trip but controlling speed is very dangerous on this track and her morning line odds of 8-1 are enticing. The logical favorite – she’s 9/5 on the morning line – is Bathing Beauty, a closing third in the productive California Breeders’ Champion Stakes and with a pedigree to suggest she’ll enjoy the stretch out in trip. Her speed figures have improved markedly with each outing and Gomez rides her back, so we expect another forward move today. Screaming Regal hasn’t been showing any gate speed and it’s possible – being by Old Topper – that she might be more comfortable as a late running sprinter but if she can project her one-turn form at this mile distance she’ll have a strong look with Espinoza staying aboard. Hard to say what the blinkers will do for her. We suggest you consider all four in your rolling exotics; clearly Frigid Bridget and Excessively Trick will offer the most value on the tote board.
THIRD RACE - #6 WARREN’S GOT GAME
This is a below average first level allowance router for state bred fillies and mares and seems like an ideal spot for Warren’s Got Game to regain her winning form. With a couple of good recent workouts following her even effort vs. similar on turf late last month, she returns to the main track for her first crack at dirt racing and is reunited with P. Val, who got plenty of run out of her when she was second (beaten a head) in a similar spot at Del Mar. She should show improved tactical speed today and figures to be within striking range throughout. Good enough to beat this field with her best effort, the Gutierrez-trained daughter of Ancient Art offers solid value at 3-1 on the morning line both in the straight pools and the rolling exotics.
SIXTH RACE - # 4 COOKIE’S FROM TONY
This Jeff Mullins-trained gelding has two sprint preps under his belt and seems primed to stretch out and win from a modest maiden claiming band of sophomores. The Exchange Rate gelding improved dramatically in his second career start in a fairly strong race for the level, has come back to work extremely well since, retains Talamo, and should be on or near the lead throughout. In a field lacking in effective closers and at 3-1 on the morning line, Cookie’s From Tony seems like a logical rolling exotic single and an enticing straight play as well.
FOURTH RACE - #3 AMERICAS DREAMING x 7 BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN
Americas Dreaming is dropped into a claimer for the first time after more than a dozen failed attempts at the first condition. Most recently she flopped miserably over the Cushion track at Hollywood Park, so Sadler has taken the opportunity to place her in a very realistic spot, one that could enable the Irish-bred mare to secure her first win in the States. She retains Bejarano, switches to the grass, and beats these with anything close to her Gulfstream turf form of last year. Admittedly, that’s a long way back, but she’s trained eagerly of late and may be set to regain her form. Beautiful American returns to her claim level for Hollendorfer, knows how to win races, and catches a field that she’s more than capable of dominating from start to finish. She’s back on grass as well, and it’s worth noting that she’s won half of her 14 career starts on turf. Beautiful American rates top billing and offers some real value if she leaves at close to her 5/2 morning line odds. Lert's use them both in all of our rolling exotics.
FIFTH RACE - #1 WARREN’S KNOCKOUT x 4 PREFERRED MANDATE x 5 JACK REACHER
This is a wide open state bred maiden sprint and we suggest you spread in your rolling exotics using (at least) the three we’ve listed here. Warren’s Knockout debuted in an open maiden dash last month and had the misfortune of hooking The Factor. After showing good early speed to be within range for a half, he was left for dead and faded to be beaten almost 20 lengths; nobody in this particular field would have done any better. He’s come back to drill nicely since that race, makes the pivotal jockey switch to P. Val, and lands the rail, which seems to be the place to be over a track that has been very kind to speed types so far this meeting. He’s our top selection at 9/2 on the morning line, but we’ll also use Preferred Mandate, a fading fifth in a high priced maiden claimer in his debut last month but working like a better sort since that race, and Jack Reacher, who broke a bit slowly and then steadied at the furlong pole in his only outing before winding up well beaten in a California-bred affair at Hollywood Park. He’s probably a bit better than the line shows and also has come back to show some spark in the morning.
EIGHTH RACE – #2 BLIND LUCK x #3 MALIBU PIER
Blind Luck will earn an Eclipse Award tomorrow evening in Florida; today she’ll be a short priced favorite to return to winning form in the El Encino Stakes. Freshened and working in superb style since rallying to be second in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, the Hollendorfer-trained filly came off a similar vacation last year to win the Las Virgenes Stakes and figures to fire her best shot once again. She deserves to be 4/5 on the morning line but #3 Malibu Pier might be good enough to upset her. The Carla Gaines-trained filly didn’t leave clearly in the recent La Brea Stakes but steadily moved within range and kept to her task to finish an excellent second behind Switch while perhaps wanting more distance. She gets her trip today, continues to sparkle in the morning and should find herself always within striking range of a pace that probably won’t be too intense. She’ll have to run her best race yet to defeat the champion, but at 3-1 on the morning she offers a bit more value. Use them both in all of your rolling exotics and consider a straight play on Malibu Pier if she leaves somewhere around her morning line price.
NINTH RACE - #1 RESPLENDENTLY x #10 NATURALISTE
Resplendently returns to the bottom rung maiden claiming ranks following a respite of more than three months, and his condition must be questioned, but the work tab indicates he’s ready to roll and his back numbers would bury this modest group. The rail is of some concern and the distance might be bit sharp, but in a rather empty field he should be able to produce the last run. Stranger danger takes the form of Naturaliste, a first timer from the Richard Mandella barn who has worked well enough to be very competitive at this level. A nicely bred colt by Saint Liam, he finally makes it to the races at age 4 and must have problems, but his natural ability could carry him through and at 9/2 on the morning line he’s a “must use” in all of your exotic plays.