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.
FOURTH RACE - #4 SASSOU
Sassou primarly has been a turf and synthetic specialist throughout his career but he does show a win on dirt - way back in September of 2007 at Fairplex Park - so this switch from grass to the main track due to the overnight rains shouldn't be an issue. The Ted West-trained gelding makes his first start since being claimed for $50,000 in late January and has trained in sharp style in the interim, so we'll expect another huge run from this genuine and consistent sprinter. Let's make him a rolling exotic single to kick off proceedings in a difficult and challenging Pick-6 scheme.
NINTH RACE - #6 ESPIRITO SANTO x #9 B'S LUCKY STRIKE x #11 RIBALD
Espirito Santo takes a significant class drop - from open $25,000 to restricted $12,500 - and looks like the controlling speed in this abbreviated dash. A recent sharp gate work should have him right on edge, and Kerwin John, who has won with him in the past, remains aboard. Let's put this lightly raced colt on top at 6-1 on the morning line, but also use B's Lucky Strike, apparently most effective as a late-running sprinter and exiting a fast heat, and Ribald, comfortably drawn outside and dropping for the money run. All three are worth using in your rolling exotics and in an exacta or trifecta box as well.
SECOND RACE - #2 TOKUBETSU x #3 DOMINUS
Tokubetsu is listed as the 3/5 favorite on the morning line and deservedly so following a sharp runner up effort to Runflatout in a blistering sprint in late January. The 91 Beyer figure earned by the son of Congaree would win nine out of 10 maiden special weight sprints on this circuit, so this Baffert-trained colt will be hard to beat. However, Dominus (5/2 on the morning line) might be something special. Best when beaten after a poor start in his only outing last summer at Belmont Park, the son of Smart Strike returns for Asmussen following a string of highly impressive workouts and looks fit and ready to justify the favorable impression he made as a 2-year-old. Clearly, these two should dominate but based on price we'll place Dominus on top and try him in the straight pools and in our rolling exotics as well.
SEVENTH RACE - #1 HONOR THE DEPUTY x #4 SOUL CANDY
Honor the Deputy exits the powerful Santana Mile (won by Misremembered with a huge speed figure) and seems ready to tackle this marathon trip while catching a considerably softer field. If he can get the mile and one-half - and we're gambling that he can - the Hollendorfer-trained gelding should be along in time. He's won half of his six career starts and has plenty of room for further improvement. Soul Candy, a closing fourth in the roughly run Big 'Cap, is another trying softer foes today and is strictly the one to beat. He should stay the 12 furlong distance and seems like a logical exacta partner with the preferred Honor the Deputy.
SIXTH RACE - #2 TOSCANOVA x #6 ZEES CHRIS
Maiden claiming 3-year-old fillies travel a mile in this modest affair and both Toscanova and Zees Chris look like very live items. We'll use them both in an exacta box and in all of our rolling exotics. Toscanova has improving numbers, a good inside draw, a bullet blowout at San Luis Rey Downs and a very nice pedigree for a maiden claimer. if she continues to move forward with experience, she can act with these. Preference, though, goes to Zees Chris, a stretch-out play with solid back numbers. She should be able to handle the extra ground and figures to enjoy an ideal pace prompting trip.
EIGHTH RACE - #4 LIBERAL ARTS x #5 WHAT A RUSH x #6 NUCLEAR MISSILE
The nitecap offers a good exacta or trifecta box opportunity using three fairly decent California-bred maidens. Liberal Arts was well meant in his recent comeback but came up short in the final furlong while likely needing the race. The son of Tribal Rule didn't get the best of runs while racing in tight quarters along the rail down the backstretch but retains P. Val, has worked nicely in the interim, and should be fitter and tougher today for a trainer who excels with second-off-layoff runners. What a Rush is a fast-working comebacker in the Avila barn who seems much better than his lone start last summer at Del Mar would give him credit for. A series of impressive recent workouts should have him spot on. Nuclear Missile also has shown flashes of talent in morning drills, and this first timer from the Dominguez barn could easily outrun his morning line (8-1) odds. He's worth tossing in the exotics. Additionally, all three should be included in your Pick-3s, Pick-4 and Pick-6 plays.
THIRD RACE - #1 ONE BAD ROMANCE
This race has been switched to the main track but the change in surface shouldn't bother One Bad Romance. The daughter of Broke Vow has the pedigree to enjoy two turns and gets her first chance over a distance of ground following three sprint tighteners earlier this meeting. She'll enjoy a soft ground-saving trip from the rail and could find herself on the front end in a fieild without much early speed (or late speed, for the matter). Looks like a short priced rolling exotic single for the always effective Mitchell-Garcia team.
EIGHTH RACE - #1 ANNIE LOU x #2 PET ME PET ME x #3 BAYONA
ANNIE LOU is the best of the known element and if she can avoid trouble from the rail she should be in the thick of things throughout. However, low profile connections and the two month layoff give major cause for concern, especially in a field with two first timers that look live in a soft spot. Pet Me Pet Me finally makes her debut at age 4 for Cerin, but she's worked well enough to be considered a major player in a bottom rung maiden claimer and with P. Val aboard she's likely to show competitive speed. At 7/2 on the morning line, she's a "must use" in the exotics. Bayona, a $130,000 yearling buy, surfaces in a Maiden $20,000 claimer for her first outing, so who knows what kind of shape she's in. The works, though, indicate she has plenty of ability and it's more than likely that she's strictly the one to beat. Let's use all three in an exacta or trifecta box and we'll use all three in our rolling exotics as well.
SIXTH RACE - #3 PRESHOW
This daughter of Bertrando had a rough trip in her debut and seems sure to improve with that effort behind her. She'll likely show more early speed today while stretching out for a trainer whose second time starters often improve. There's not much depth in this state bred maiden affair so let's try a filly who is fast enough on numbers already and likely has more upside than her rivals.
EIGHTH RACE - #5 FINE AND RARE x #6 AQUA FEVER x #7 DEPTH
Fine and Rare missed as the favorite recently but switches to Pedroza, shortens up a half furlong and probably deserves another chance. He might appreciate a pace stalking trip similar to the one he had two races back in which earned his best figure. Aqua Fever is fastest on numbers based on his race before last, exits a better race and probably is the one to beat. Depth seems sure to improve following a troubled debut for Sadler and continues to train like he's got enough talent to act at this level. All three should be used in your rolling exotics and in an exacta or trifecta box.
THIRD RACE - #2 BROCK
The Asmussen maidens have been firing lights out lately and here's another very nice prospect who appears ready to win. Well-backed (7/2) in a hot Saratoga maiden race in his only outing last summer (in a race won by Stay Thirsty), Brock returns in a middle distance affair following a string of very impressive workouts. Bejarano takes the mount, and the son of Distorted Humor looks very live in a small field at 7/2 on the morning line. Let's take him in the straight pool and as a rolling exotic single.
FIFTH RACE - #4 IRREFUTABLE x #6 CAPITAL ACCOUNT x #7 SANGER SILVER
We'll use these three in an exacta or trifecta box and in rolling exotics such as the Pick-3 and Pick-6. Irrefutable returns to a sprint after failing to stay a mile last time out and should regain his best form in this elongated sprint. The Baffert-trained colt continues to sizzle in the morning and Smith knows him well. His unbeaten stablemate, Capital Account, earned a pair of big figures in two sharp scores last summer and sports a solid foundation of strong workouts for his comeback. He'll be hard to beat if he returns as well as he left. Sanger Silver ran very well over the all weather surface at Golden Gate recently and should fit nicely down here. He's a late running sprinter in a field with plenty of zip, so at 12-1 on the morning line he's a "must use" in the exotics.