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.
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.
Both of these mares have proven winning form over the Santa Anita turf course and are tough to separate. We’d use them both in any rolling exotic and/or exactas you might want to play. Magic Launch is being wheeled back quickly by Palma, who claimed her a couple of weeks ago for $25,000 following a nice score at a mile, but the daughter of Cee’s Tizzy is equally effective sprinting and with should fire another big shot with P. Val riding her back. First or second in nine of 16 career starts, the veteran mare is thoroughly genuine and consistent. Bella Roja, most effective as a late-running turf sprinter, earned a solid speed figure when rallying from far back to beat a $32,000 claiming field last month at Hollywood Park and she’s won back-to-back races in the past, so we’ll assume she’s ready for another big effort. Bejarano stays aboard for O’Neill and the daughter of Hold That Tiger represents excellent value at 4-1 on the morning line.
5th Race - #7 Bitt a Heat
She recently returned off a six month layoff and performed nicely in a similar state bred maiden allowance affair, closing with interest against the grain to be third in a decent turf sprint. The Unusual Heat filly has run well two-turning in the past, so the added ground won’t be an issue, and with Gomez riding her back she looks like the logical pick in a below par field for the level. There’s not a lot of value to be had at 2-1 on the morning line, but the Paddy Gallagher-trained filly seems well worth considering as a rolling exotic single.
4th Race - #3 Blue Jay Attack
Blue Jay Attack’s main rival – on either turf or the main track depending upon the weather – would appear to be the undefeated #8 Red Defense, and both should be used in exactas and rolling exotics, but we’ll slightly prefer the Marty Jones-trained colt at this extended sprint distance. A prototype late-running sprinter, the son of Tribal Rule earned a career top Beyer figure when missing by a nose in a similar spot over the Hollywood Park turf last time out but gets an extra half furlong to work with today and retains Bejarano. Red Defense, undefeated in three starts, catches a favorable pace scenario and is the logical choice and one to beat. Tough to separate them; we suggest you use them both on your carryover Pick-6 tickets.
7th Race - #1 Rummysecret War
Veteran gelding was razor sharp in beating a slightly lesser field a little more than a month ago at Hollywood Park and looks quite dangerous right back on the one level raise. Pedroza stays aboard, and the Carava-trained son of Sea of Secrets should have enough tactical speed to gain favorable early position from his inside draw. Turf Paradise invader #4 Point Attended got good in a hurry in Phoenix and is a fit on speed figures, but the concern is that the horse he beat last time out – Two Violins – was well-beaten in an $8,000 claimer yesterday at Santa Anita. We’ll still use the Diodoro-trained shipper, but we’ll prefer Rummysecret War on top and hope that he leaves at close to his 7/2 morning line odds. Both seem worth using on pick-6 tickets.
8TH Race - #5 REGALLY READY
This is unquestionably a huge step up in class for this newly-turned 4-year-old but his placement in this graded stakes turf sprint by Asmussen can be taken as a sign of confidence. The son of More Than Ready (a terrific turf sire) was finally given a chance to try the lawn and he certainly made the most of it, demolishing a second level allowance field by almost eight lengths at Churchill Downs while earning a career top 102 Beyer figure. This field isn’t overloaded with early zip, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see this gelding on the front end under Rosario. If he’s as good as we think he is, Regally Ready can score right back, although we wouldn’t dive in too deeply if he leaves at anything less than his morning line of 3-1. Contenders include #1 Dance with Gable, unbeaten in three starts down the hill and fresh from a facile overnight win at Hollywood Park, and #6 Quick Enough, also with proven winning form over this unique course and retaining P. Val.
9th Race - #14 TWO VIOLINS
Phoenix invader finished a sharp second to the red hot Point Attended in a competitive sprint at Turf Paradise last month and if he turns in that kind of effort on the big circuit he’ll be in the battle throughout. The Metz-trained gelding lands Gomez, should have clear sailing outside and has a touch of quality (first or second in 13 of 25 career starts). At 9/2 on the morning line he represents sufficient value to back him in the straight pool as well as the exotics. The one to fear most is #3 Café Con Leche, a sharp dropper in the O’Neill barn who retains Pedroza following a career top (81) Beyer performance two weeks ago at Hollywood Park. In fact, he has plenty of back numbers than could win this bottom rung affair.
3rd Race - #8 CANDY FOR PASEANA
Candy Ride gelding returns to California after breaking his maiden at Turf Paradise in a fairly strong effort, and we suspect he’ll fit very nicely in this restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claiming affair. He lands Bejarano and should have enough tactical speed to draft into a favorable pace stalking or pace prompting position. On numbers he’s right there and with any kind of improvement he can pull off a mild surprise. Listed at 6-1 on the morning line and offering value at anywhere near that price, the Diodoro-trained gelding should be used in the exotics with the two other main contenders in the field, #1 Royal Import (decent number when finally breaking his maiden and leaving from the good inside post) and #4 Dontmesroundwitjim (first off the claim for Mitchell, working well, switches to Talamo and might be the speed of the speed).
6th Race – #2 HEY MARIA
Juvenile filly swings back to action for good trainer Gaines following a nearly four month vacation and could very well be a much better type this time around. Flashed promising speed in a pair of Del Mar races last summer and was well-backed in both, so she’s always been fairly well regarded. Recent workouts have been impressive and give indication that she’s ready to fire off the bench. At 6-1 on the morning line, she’s an attractive straight play and a “must use” in the rolling exotics. If you’re play exactas or trifectas, also consider #6 Rumor, a first timer from the Mandella barn with a series of promising drills for a barn that does well with debut runners, and #7 Blazing Along, fourth in the Anoakia Stakes in October and back with maidens today following a typical sharp series of workouts for Baffert.