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.
5th Race - #4 KUMIVA x #6 SCREAMING DESTINY
Screaming Destiny exits a fast, highly-rated sprint in his first start in 10 month and seems sure to improve following that tightener. Bred for distance on both sides of his pedigree, the son of Street Cry should love the lawn and a healthy series of drills in recent weeks for Harty should have him right on edge. This does not appear to be a particularly strong maiden affair, so Screaming Destiny should have every chance to earn his diploma, and at 9/2 on the morning line he represents good value in both the straight pool and the exotics. Kumiva may be the one to fear most. He’s a five year old maiden now and his trainer suffered through a winless 2010, but he’s worked well of late, has back numbers that could win, and should be forwardly placed in a race that doesn’t appear to have much in the way of pace. We’ll use him in the exotics while still preferring Screaming Destiny.
7th Race - # 3 EARNEDNEVERGIVEN x 7 CONNAGHER
This is a very interesting down the hill turf sprint and it’s tough to separate the two horses listed above. Earnednevergiven was a tad disappointing when third as the choice in a hot main track sprint last month but he’s perfect in two starts over this turf course and seems very likely to rebound with his best effort. He should be prominent throughout in a race that doesn’t figure to be terribly fast early. Connagher, freshened since Oak Tree, was in too tough when a non factor in the Morvich while being victimized by the race shape (slow early, fast late) but he switches to Gomez following a sharp recent work and should be storming home in the final furlong. There’s some real value here at 9/2 on the morning line. Best suggestion is to use both in any exactas or trifectas you might want to play and also in the Pick-3, the Pick-4, and the Pick-6.
6th Race - #1 TASHZARA x #4 MUTALLY BENEFIT x #8 KHENDUM
These three are the main contenders (and first three favorites on the morning line) and they’re difficult to separate, but of the three we would slightly prefer Mutually Benefit. The daughter of Dynaformer ran very well under similar circumstance two races back when second while earning a solid 80 Beyer figure but regressed in her most recent race when unplaced in an off-the-turfer. She’s back on the sod today, continues to train in sharp style for Proctor, and retains Gomez, who may (or may not) have opted for her over Tashzara. She’ll be little value, though, if she leaves at less than her 3-1 morning line odds. Tashzara, in the money in all three of her starts since being imported from England, has improving speed figures, the good inside draw, gains Rosario, and sports a steady work tab for her first start since late November. She’s the 9/5 morning line favorite and deservedly so. Khendum gets the worst of the draw but she ran quite well over this turf course last year and is another whose recent workouts indicate she’s ready to fire her best shot. Tough race, and to be safe you’d probably be wise to include all three in your rolling exotics.
7th Race - #1 STACY’S HOPE x #2 MOONLARK
These two met Nov. 14 at Hollywood Park and Stacy’s Hope produced the last run to win going away in a visually impressive performance. Moonlark franked the form by earning a whopping 104 Beyer figure while dismantling a good field in an abbreviated sprint the following month while able to control the race from gate to wire. We like him right back, although he might have to deal with #6 Bradium, who switches to P. Val and likely will apply pace pressure throughout. If these two hook up in a speed duel again, Stacy’s Hope could once again produce the last run. We’ll use the best speed and the best closer in our rolling exotics and hope to survive. If you feel a need to go a bit deeper, consider #4 Square Eddie, who has been working up a storm for his first start in more than a year. He’s got plenty of back class, and has fired fresh in the past. We’re taking a stand against him, though, hoping that he’ll need a race to shake off the rust. We’ll see.
5th Race - #5 CADAZZLE x #6 RICKETYRACKETYRUSS x 8 WORKING AT NIGHT
Cadazzle is an intriguing invader from New York making her local debut for Proctor and the works say she’s fit and ready. Her best race was her first, so we’ll assume she can fire fresh, and if she can transfer her Saratoga form to this hillside course she can earn her diploma in a race that we’d also use Ricketyracketyruss and Working At Night. The former missed by a head in her turf debut two-turning at Hollywood Park last month and she should have no difficulty shortening up and repeating that performance today. A bullet :46 flat half for Sadler indicates she has further improvement in her and Rosario stays aboard. The latter has improving speed figures for Mullins and with another forward move the daughter of Tiznow should be in the thick of things throughout. We’ll use all three in all of our rolling exotics and in exacta and trifecta boxes as well. And if we can get close to the 4-1 morning line odds, we’ll play a few extra tickets on Cadazzle.
6th Race - #8 SKELLYTOWN
Ex-classer returned to winning form on opening day with a brave score in a three-horse driving finish and seems quite capable of a repeat win against a moderate bottom-rung field. Didn’t get the clearest of runs when attempting to rally into the lane but surged late to get the money in a race that already has proven to be productive. Skellytown clearly has his issues and this drop in class off a win raises a red flag, but if he has one more good one left the veteran Thunder Gulch gelding can come right back under Espinoza. Under the circumstances, his 3-1 morning line odds seems worth taking and we’ll single him in our rolling exotics as well.
8th Race - #1 He’s a Dance Star
Lightly-raced gelding returns to the main track and is a perfect one-for-one on dirt, having scored in his debut in a Fairplex Park maiden race. Making his second start since switching from the Warren barn to the Sadler stable, the son of Perfect Mandate has plenty of room for further improvement following a good third place effort despite some trouble on turf against a similar first level state bred allowance field last month at Hollywood Park. He lands the rail again, but at this extended sprint trip he should have plenty of opportunity to find suitable room for his late kick. In a below par field for the level, Gomez should have He’s a Dance Star along in time.
9th Race - #2 Seeking the Queen x #6 Fairway Road
Speedy California-bred filly catches a very favorable pace scenario in this first level allowance sprint down the hill for fillies and mares and appears capable of controlling this race from start to finish. After hopping in the air at the start in a similar spot over the Hollywood Park lawn last month, the daughter of Sought After rushed up to make the pace and continued strongly until deep stretch before weakening to wind up third. Let’s hope she leaves cleanly today under Talamo and keeps on going. Also worth using in the exotics is #6 Fairway Road, first off the claim for good trainer Peter Miller and fresh from a sharp main track romp vs. $20,000 sellers last month. She can handle the turf as well and appears the one Seeking the Queen must fear most.
Trainer Bob Baffert seems to be winning with everything he sends out and he looks to have this Invisible Ink filly well spotted for a maiden diploma. She flashed very good speed in a straight maiden dash during the Oak Tree at Hollywood Park in October before fading and winding up off the board, but she figures to stick much better in this high priced maiden claimer. A series of recent strong workouts should have her primed and ready and with little to beat, Gladiatrix seems capable of controlling this race from start to finish. For exacta players, consider #3 River’s Mambo, another first-time-in-a-claimer play who continues to look good morning preps. She actually finished ahead of Gladiatrix in a common race Oct. 15 and her recent workouts indicate she may be better than shown.
6th Race - #4 Mr Tokyo
Genuine and consistent, this Lloyd-trained colt has shown a liking for this turf course and should fire another big shot today. His good tactical speed should keep him free of trouble, and Nakatani figures to have him along in time. At 3-1 on the morning line, the son of Freespool offers value in the straight pool as well as the rolling exotics. He’s a single in our book.
6th Race - #4 Excessively Trick
Quick daughter of In Excess tried to make a right hand turn in her debut soon after the start, was straightened to quickly establish the pace in hand, accelerated into the lane, then weakened late and wound up off the board in her debut at Hollywood Park in November. She’s returned to work very well since that race for Koriner and shortens up a half furlong, so if she moves forward at all she could be tough to deny. There’s a fast filly (#3 Rolling Tide) drawn inside her, so she may be asked to stalk rather than lead; Rosario rides her back so he’ll have the option. Excessively Trick represents value at 5-1 on the morning line and in a field lacking in known late speed we’ll make her a straight play and a rolling exotic single.
8th Race - #6 Brite Dreamer x #7 Merlin Z
In a soft maiden claiming sprint for state bred juveniles, Brite Dreamer and Merlin Z have a right to win, so we’ll use them both in all of our rolling exotics and exactas and trifectas as well. Brite Dreamer is a first time starter for good trainer Marty Jones and has trained well enough to act at this level. He’s been given a solid foundation and should be plenty fit; the known element isn’t overwhelming so a fresh face has a chance to make an impact. Merlin Z, our top selection in the race, showed some ability when tackling straight maidens last spring and summer and returns in a modest spot for Adam Kitchingman. A solid 1:13 flat gate work last month should have him fit enough, and with Bejarano taking the call the son of Marino Marini looks like a very live item.