Jeff Siegel’s Santa Anita Analysis & Wagering Strategies for Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018

The selections contained within are geared to rolling exotic players.  The basic strategy is to isolate those horses that should be included in rolling daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and pick-6.

​It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis.  Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.

​Unless otherwise noted, all horses listed in the analysis should be used in rolling exotic play.   Usually there will no more than three horses listed; occasionally, Jeff will go four-deep in his rolling exotic play and on a very rare occasion he will recommend a “buy the race” strategy.

The selections are available every racing day after 9 a.m. (PST).  For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

Top selection indicated in bold-face.  

A=Highest degree of confidence.

B=Solid Play.

C=Least preferred, or pass.

X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.

SANTA ANITA

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

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RACE 1: Post 11:30 PT. Grade: C

Use: 3-Buster Douglas; 6-Little Scotty; 9-Orchestral

Forecast: The season begins with an inscrutable $25,000 turf claimer.  With nothing to trust, this is a race that requires a spread so best advice is to include as many as you can afford to in rolling exotic play.  Orchestral squandered a perfect trip when fifth (beaten just one length) vs. tougher in an off-the-turf all-weather affair at Golden Gate Fields last month but his preferred surface clearly is grass (he’s nine-for-15 lifetime) and with the return to the sod he seems the logical top selection.  The concern is that he’s always been most effective on the lead, and with Little Scotty the projected pace setter the Herbertson-trained gelding will be relegated to a stalker’s role, something he’s never been entirely comfortable with.  The good news is that he’s solid on figures, hails from a high percentage outfit, and sports a healthy work pattern since raced.  Little Scotty returns to his winning level after three poor runs.  He’s a need-the-lead type and projects as the controlling speed, but his current condition clearly is suspect.  Perhaps the class drop will wake him up.  Buster Douglas is protected in is first-off-the-claim and actually has numbers that fit.  His low-profile connections and his lackluster form since being imported from Brazil surely will guarantee huge odds, but he’s worth tossing in somewhere in the exotics.  Small ticket players may want to try to survive and advance using these three, but we’ve graded this race a “C”, so we’ll be treading lightly.

 

​​RACE 2: Post 12:03 PT. Grade: C+

Use: 3-Naughty Sophie; 6-Come On Kat

Forecast: This is the first main track race of meeting, and we’ll be interested to see how the surface plays and if any bias exits.  The dirt track was extremely deep and sluggish during the fall meeting, and many runners labored over it, resulting in extreme and exaggerated gaps in the finishing margins.  Naughty Sophie is fastest on numbers and broke her maiden by a pole vs. bottom-rung maiden claimers over this track last summer.  This is a realistic class drop to a $25,000 claimer restricted to 3-year-old fillies, and off her best effort she should be hard to catch.  Come On Kat won her last two in good style but isn’t being raised by Hollendorfer following a claim last month at Del Mar, so it would appear he’s not concerned about losing her.  This is similar to what her previous trainer, Marquez, had done with her following a highly-rated maiden claiming win.  He raised her just won level and knowing that he’d probably lose her, but obviously he didn’t care.  Assuming the daughter of Munnings has at least one good one left, she should draft into a good stalking position outside and have every chance if ‘Sophie finds the final furlong a bit too strenuous.  This is another race that offers little wagering value – ‘Sophie and ‘Kat are the first and second choices – so we’re not planning on getting too involved.

 

​​RACE 3: Post 12:35 PT. Grade: B

Use: 1-Wilshire Dude; 7-I Am the Danger

Forecast:I Am the Danger ran hard – possibly too hard – when he finished second in a fast, highly rated sloppy track allowance race at Los Alamitos 20 days ago.  He earned by far his career top speed figure while six lengths clear of the rest, and if repeats that performance today he’ll most likely win.  The question, of course, is whether he’ll react negatively off that taxing effort.  Wilshire Dude is intriguing and is a “must use” in rolling exotic play.  The Spawr-trained gelding was an excellent third in a wet-fast two-turn miler (see Black Book video) in his local bow at Del Mar and today shortens to the distance over which he broke his maiden by nearly six lengths in Florida.  The rail is no bargain but if he can work out a trip, he should be a strong factor throughout.  Both should be included in rolling exotic play, with Wilshire Dude worth consideration in the straight pool at or near his morning line of 5-1.

 

​​​RACE 4: Post: 1:07 PT. Grade: B+

Use: 1-Amandine; 3-Ms Bad Behavior

Forecast:  Amandine was superb in her U.S. debut, demolishing a first-level allowance field over this trip on grass at Del Mar with a powerful late kick that produced a stakes-quality speed figure.  She’s had three nice and easy workouts since that late November outing to tick her over for this tougher assignment, so a forward move is hardly out of the question.  From the rail the English-bred filly should enjoy a ground saving trip and have every chance to run down the projected controlling speed, Ms Bad Behavior.  Second in her last pair, most recently in the Autumn Miss Stakes over this course and distance last fall, the daughter of Blame has been beaten as the choice in three of her last four starts, but her efforts were strong and her numbers legitimate.  She’s been sharp in the morning at San Luis Rey Downs for her first start since October, has a history of firing fresh, and lands Rosario.  We’ll give a very light edge on top to Amandine but include both in our rolling exotics.

 

​RACE 5: Post 1:40 PT. Grade: B-

Use:  1-One Bad Boy; 9-Scalper; 10-Jumpin Thru Hoops; 11-Big Scott Daddy

Forecast: In a maiden extended sprint for juveniles in which the known element doesn’t excite, let’s try to get by using three first-time starters.  One Bad Boy has been burning up the San Luis Rey Downs main track with a series of fast workouts (three of his last four were bullets) and seems plenty fit for a major effort first crack out of the box.  The presence of Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle indicates he’s well-meant today, so we’ll put him on top even though the rail is a concern and the Baltas barn doesn’t win often with debut runners.  But in an open fray, the son of Twirling Candy seems as good as any.  Jumpin Thru Hoops brought $190,000 at the Barretts April Sale, where the son of Yes It’s True previewed impressively when breezing a furlong in 10 1/5 seconds. The Miller-trained colt sports a bullet six-furlong drill in 1:13 2/5 seconds at San Luis Rey Downs just 12 days ago and then returned last week to work a strong five furlongs from the gate in 1:00 2/5 seconds.  He looks very live under Rosario.  Big Scott Daddy has done everything right in the morning for Puype, but his workout times have been moderate because he’s hasn’t been asked for speed.  The son of Scat Daddy lands Smith and a comfortable outside draw and probably is better than his morning line of 10-1 indicates.  Finally, there’s the Baffert entrant, Scalper, a $850,000 son of Uncle Mo who was quite impressive previewing at the Fasig-Tipton March Sale but has taken longer than expected to make it to the post.  He’s certain to get plenty of play and you simply must include him based on this stable’s incredible record with first-time starting juveniles.

 

​​​​RACE 6: Post 2:15 PT. Grade: B-

Use: 1-Happy Like a Fool; 5-Dream Tree; 9-Spiced Perfection

Forecast: The La Brea Stakes is a legitimate Grade-1 sprint for 3-year-old fillies that features the unbeaten-in-five-starts Dream Tree, the triple-digit Beyer earning winner of the Prioress Stakes-G2 at Saratoga in early September but away since then due to a throat issue that has since been corrected by surgery.  If she returns as well as she left – and her workouts indicate she most likely will – the Baffert-trained daughter of Uncle Mo will be hard to beat.  Happy Like a Fool had the misfortune of drawing the rail but she has a good stalking style and is fresh from a career-top performance when winning a strong overnight affair in Kentucky last month.  We strongly suspect she has another forward move in her.  Spiced Perfection was visually quite pleasing winning the highly-rated state-bred Betty Grable Stakes in mid-November at Del Mar at this same extended sprint trip and is another likely to have further improvement in her.  Drawn beautifully outside, she has the perfect stalking style for this distance and will be bearing down late under Prat.  Dream Tree is the 8/5 morning line favorite and deservedly but well give us a chance to get a price horse home, so we’ll use all three somewhere in our rolling exotics.

 

​​​RACE 7: Post 2:50 PT.  Grade: B+

Use: 1-Sejo; 5-River Boyne

Forecast: River Boyne is unbeaten in five career starts over the Santa Anita turf course and shortens to a mile, which might be his preferred distance.  The Irish-bred colt looks every bit the 8/5 morning line favorite and may in fact go lower.    On pure form he’s very difficult to fault.  However, at a price, Sejo is intriguing.  Unbeaten on firm ground and the winner of two valuable handicaps at Longchamp earlier this year, the son of Nathaniel makes his U.S. debut for Sadler and should be competitive based on his European form.  The concern is the mile distance – he was more of a 10-furlong type in France – and we wonder if this trip might be a tad too sharp or that Sadler is merely using this race as prep for a longer event down the road.   Still, we made him a Day Maker (see video) and we’ll use him in the straight pool and then as an exacta partner with River Boyne.  And we’ll include both in our rolling exotics.

 

​​​​​RACE 8: Post 3:25 PT.  Grade: B+

Use: 2-Battle of Midway; 9-Beach View

Forecast:  Beach View is our second Day Maker on today’s program (see video).  He’ll be six years old in a week but with only 11 career outings he has fresh legs and has never been sharper.  Two races back the son of Giant’s Causeway earned a career top speed figure in a facile score in the Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar and then most recently he was a much troubled third (blocked in the stretch) in the Hollywood Turf Cup last month at Del Mar.  Back on dirt today and retaining Bejarano, the Powell-trained horse can settle early and produce the last run in a race that should have ample speed signed on.  Battle of Midway is the 9/5 morning line favorite and for good reason.  The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner has returned to top form and always has been partial to the Santa Anita main track (4 wins in 6 starts).  The son of Smart Strike has excellent tactical speed to guarantee a good trip and is unbeaten in two starts at this nine-furlong trip.  Beach View, at 8-1 on the morning line, will be much the better price, so we’ll use him in the straight pool, but we’ll double the race in rolling exotic play.

 

RACE 9: Post 4:00 PT.  Grade: B+

Use: 9-Ax Man; 12-Kanthaka; 13-McKinzie

Forecast: Ax Man makes his first start as a gelding in his first outing since July and has been so impressive in the morning that he made our “Primed and Ready List” (see video).  Brilliant when he wants to be but never one to depend on, the Baffert-trained son of Misremembered won his debut over this main track last January by more than nine lengths, so you know he can fire fresh.  Is he one to trust today?  That’s questionable.  But if he feels like it, he can win.  McKinzie fell apart when strongly-back (7/2) in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and was virtually eased in the final furlong, but he’s trained like his old self in the two months since that race (see Dec. 22 workout) and we’re expecting a major bounce-back performance from the Grade-1 winning son of Street Sense.  His only prior outing over this seven-furlong distance resulted in a 5 ½ length debut maiden win; in fact, that was the only sprint race of his career.  Kanthaka is a prototype late-running sprinter and has trained very well (see Dec. 22 workout) since being stopped on after capturing the Laz Barrera Stakes-G3 over this track and distance last May. Worth noting is he’s a career-perfect 3-for-3 at seven furlongs.  With some help up front, the son of Jimmy Creed could be heard from late. Let’s use all three in our rolling exotics and then press with extra tickets keying Ax Man.

 

RACE 10: Post 4:35 PT.  Grade: B+

Use: 1-Cupid’s Claws; 4-Acker; 5-Trojan Spirit

Forecast: This is a much stronger-than-par race for the level, most notably due to the presence of Acker in the lineup.  The son of Include has really gotten good of late, and the speed figure that he earned when easily winning a similar allowance/optional claiming affair at Del Mar last month should be good enough to score right back.  Interestingly, he’s allowed to return in the same entry-level allowance race that he just won because in his last race he was entered to claimed (there were no takers) and in doing so preserved his eligibility for this first condition.  Cupid’s Claws is lightly-raced and progressing nicely for Koriner.  The son of Kitten’s Joy broke his maiden with a strong fig over a mile last time out at Del Mar and today’s extra furlong should be well within his range.  We really like the way he’s been working (see Dec. 9 workout) since that win.  Trojan Spirit was a distant second (beaten four lengths) behind Acker when they met at Del Mar, but the Gallagher-trained gelding was forced to rally against slow fraction and ran better than the line will show.  He gets a bit more ground to work with today but will need at least a normal pace up front to have his best chance.