Jeff Siegel’s Santa Anita analysis offers race-by-race wagering strategies 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 and analysis 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, the reader is encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.
A horse’s final (closing) odds are irrelevant to Jeff’s rolling exotic wagering strategies; In fact, the morning line often provides a better indication as to how strongly a horse may be played in the rolling exotics pools than a horse’s actual closing odds. Jeff’s top selection always appears in bold-faced type.
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 4-deep in his rolling exotic play and on a very rare occasion he will recommend a “buy the race” strategy.
A=Highest degree of confidence. B=Solid Play. C=Least preferred, or pass. Top selection indicated in bold-face
FIRST RACE (2:00 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 3-Scuderia; 6-Lauren’s Ladd
The 11-race Saturday program begins with a maiden special weight downhill turf sprint. #3 Scuderia had a troubled run at Fair Grounds in his racing debut and was soon gelded and then shipped to California, where he now resides in the Mike McCarthy barn. The son of Gio Ponte was well-backed (6-1) in his only outing and continues to train in sharp style, so he certainly deserves another solid look in what appears to be a moderate race for the level. #6 Lauren’s Ladd, away since November, returns for top trainer Phil D’Amato (powerful stats with layoff horses) and has trained well enough to be fit and ready. The son of City Zip showed ability in a pair of starts vs. good company as a juvenile, returns without blinkers, and lands one of the barn’s go-to riders, Tyler Baze. We’re expecting the opener to be won by one of these two, so we’ll use both in our rolling exotics while slightly preferring Lauren’s Ladd on top.
SECOND RACE (2:30 PT) – GRADE: B-
Use: 1-Dive Down; 3-Celebrity Status
The second race drew just six runners but it’s a difficult affair over nine furlongs on the main track for $12,500 claimers. We’ll use two in our rolling exotics but if you can afford to go deeper, go right ahead. #1 Dive Down exits a series of much tougher races and is realistically spotted by trainer Matt Chew after being protected in each of his last three outings since being claimed back in February. The son of Broken Vow is a perfect three-for-three over the Santa Anita main track, retains Edwin Maldonado, and should draft into an ideal pace-prompting position. #3 Celebrity Status, first off the claim for Peter Miller (35% with a strong flat-bet profit), gets a considerable break in the weights with the switch to bug boy Pena and has several back numbers that are more than good enough to win at this level. The son of Vronsky will be especially dangerous if he inherits the role of the controlling speed. Additionally, #2 Lucky Shoes to Win (a winner of three of his last four), #5 Mahogany Run (class dropper with the blinkers-off angle) and #6 Tiz Jolie (new stable and stretching out) all have credentials to be dangerous.
THIRD RACE (3:00 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 1-Lucky Bryan; 2-Acature
The Singletary Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile on turf is carded as the third race and attracted a small field of six. The improving #2 Acature seems like the logical top choice; the Simon Callaghan-trained colt has speed figures that are rising with each outing and most recently finished a solid runner-up to Beach Patrol, who in his next start finished a narrow second in the American Turf Stakes on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. The son of Archarcharch shortens to a mile today while retaining Flavien Prat, but at 8/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower, he doesn’t offer much in the way of wagering value. #1 Lucky Bryan makes his first start as a 3-year-old after a pair of promising efforts over this course and distance last fall; he’s now in the John Sadler barn, has a solid series of workouts, and very likely will return better than he left. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics and then press a bit with Acature on top.
FOURTH RACE (3:30 PT) – GRADE: C+
Use: 2-Wrightwood; 5-Grayson and John
The fourth race is a treacherous affair for restricted (nw-2) $12,500 over the abbreviated sprint distance of five furlongs. We’ll double the race in our rolling exotics but not with any great degree of confidence. #2 Wrightwood has three reasons to improve; he’s a first-time gelding, he’s adding blinkers for the first time, and he’s making a trainer switch to Brian Koriner. There really isn’t a whole lot else to like about this gelding, who was a voided claim back in mid-March due to unsoundness, but he’s showing some spark in the a.m. for his new connections so perhaps he’ll step forward in a race in which nothing would surprise us. #5 Grayson and John also has the first-time gelding angle and a prior win over this main track, so he could easily come to life as well. Freshened since mid-March, the Art Sherman-trained 3-year-old will be facing older foes for the first time but might have a bit more upside than most of the others. Tread lightly here.
FIFTH RACE (4:00 PT) – GRADE: B-
Use: 5-Fin de Sermaine; 8-Fashionly Handsome
Maiden $40,000 claimers compete over a mile in the fifth race, a modest affair that took on an entirely different look after the late scratching of the two favorites, #2 Latest Craze and #4 Volume. Let's go with the unexposed #8 Fashionable Handsome on top; the son of Old Fashioned ran well in his debut when a strong runner-up over this track and distance in February but then wasn't unable to cope with a raise in class and weakened late to be wind up fifth (beaten six lengths) vs. M75000 company. He drops to a realistic level, continues to look good in the morning, and really doesn't have much to beat. #5 Fin de Semaine was almost five lengths clear of the rest when a decent runner-up in a similar spot over a wet fast track last month and also has trained pretty well since that race, so another forward move is possible. The switch to Victor Espinoza is a positive move. Both should be used in rolling exotic play.
SIXTH RACE (4:30 PT) – GRADE: B-
Use: 3-Mrazek; 5-Smokey Image; 7-I Will Score
The Laz Barrera Stakes is a seven furlong Grade 3 event for 3-year-olds and there are several legitimate contenders in the field of seven. #3 Mrazek was a stakes winner as a 2-year-old and returned in good form when an excellent second in a hot allowance race at Los Alamitos last month. If the son of Square Eddie can produce a forward move today, he’ll be the one to beat. #7 I Will Score performed well at Oaklawn Park when finishing a solid runner-up in the Bachelor Stakes last month; he’s trained well for Jerry Hollendorfer since returning to his home base and has the benefit of the cozy outside draw. Look for this son of Roman Ruler to enjoy an ideal pace-stalking journey. #5 Smokey Image is undefeated in five career starts and should enjoy this drop back in trip in addition to the softer competition. He’s never been the easiest of rides, but Victor Espinoza knows him well and will try to get this son of Southern Image switched off early in order to produce a strong late kick.
SEVENTH RACE (5:00 PT) – GRADE: B-
Use: 1-Giant Ego; 4-Airfoil; 7-Out of Patience
The seventh race is a contentious $16,000 claimer at seven furlongs; we’ll use three and hope that’s enough. #1 Giant Ego drops a notch below his claim price after finishing a solid third in a tougher starter’s allowance event; the veteran gelding likes this track, knows how to win, and should be prominent throughout, his rail post notwithstanding. On pure speed figures, this Kristin Mulhall-trained trained Idaho-bred is strictly the one to beat. #4 Airfoil is dropping from $25,000 to $16,000 in his first start since being claimed by Peter Miller; normally, this isn’t a healthy sign but Miller is super with his first-off-the-claim starters because he sends them fit and spots them right. First or second in nine of 20 career starts over the Santa Anita main track, the Bernardini gelding gets his favorite distance and should be heard from in the final furlong. #7 Out of Patience seeks his third straight win after capturing a starter’s allowance mile event at Los Alamitos last month. The A. C. Avila-trained gelding is another with the proper stalking style for this extended sprint and must be respected in his present form.
EIGHTH RACE (5:30 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 1-The Lieutenant; 4-Giant Expectations; 7-One More Round
The eighth race is a maiden special weight two-turn event that came up considerably stronger than average. It should take a nice colt to win it. #1 The Lieutenant has the classic two sprints and a stretch-out pattern that we like so much and this son of Street Sense should produce a significant forward move from his favorable inside draw. Prat stays aboard for McCarthy, and this lightly-raced colt just finished fourth in a fast, highly-rated sprint, finding his best stride too late and galloping out well. A sharp 46 2/5 seconds workout last week is another positive sign. #4 Giant Expectations is bred to run long (Frost Giant) and gets his chance in his fourth career start. The Peter Eurton-trained colt was third in the same race The Lieutenant was fourth in and today lands Bejarano. He should fire his best shot today. #7 One More Round made the running and held on well to be second in the Lexington S.-G3 at Keeneland last month while only giving way in deep stretch to the talented Collected; this return to the maiden ranks makes him clearly the one to beat, though it remains to be seen if he’s a need-the-lead type. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics; at the price (6-1) The Lieutenant gets top preference.
NINTH RACE (6:00 PT) – GRADE: B+
Use: 10-Glacken Too; 11-Fueled by Bourbon
Second-level allowance horses sprint six and one-half furlongs in the ninth race; it’s a fairly wide open affair and offers a chance for a price. #11 Fueled by Bourbon finished fourth, beaten only a half-length, in a rare dirt attempt at Los Alamitos last month and seemed at home with the surface switch; the Miller-trained colt makes a major switch to Prat, adds blinkers for the first time, and can win with only a slight forward move. The son of Stroll has the proper style for this extended sprint and should be able to draft into a good spot behind the leading group. #10 Glacken Too has plenty of zip, continues to impress in the a.m. for D’Amato, and could be the most dangerous of the speed types. He’ll always be vulnerable in the final furlong, as his record (two wins and nine seconds/thirds) indicates, but this will be just his third start since joining this barn so improvement is possible. These are the two we’ll sink or swim with in our rolling exotics; we’ll have a few extra tickets keying Fueled by Bourbon on top.
TENTH RACE (6:30 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 1-So Good to Go; 4-Salsita
The tenth race is a grass grab bag for $25,000 claiming fillies and mares. #1 So Good to Go looked quite good winning vs. slightly softer foes up north last month and could easily take this one-level class hike in stride. Drawn nicely inside and with enough tactical speed to be placed wherever Marty Garcia prefers, the Illinois-bred mare appears much more dangerous than her enticing 8-1 morning line would suggest. We’ll also include in our rolling exotics #4 Salsita, freshened since November but training quite well for Baltas and landing Bejarano, who came out early to work her last week. The veteran mare has won over this course in the past and always has been consistent and genuine, having finished first or second in 12 of 26 career starts. We’ll try to survive using just these two in our rolling exotics while hoping to get close to 8-1 in the straight pool with So Good to Go.
ELEVENTH RACE (7:00 PT) – GRADE: C
Use: 5-Plus Perfect; 6-Fiftypercentcotton; 8-Vida Bonita; 12-Papa’s Lady
The finale is a bottom-rung maiden claiming abbreviated sprint for fillies and mares. It’s a complete raffle, so spread as deeply as you can afford to. #12 Papa’s Lady was far back in her only outing but was in an enormously tougher spot; this huge class drop could wake her up and from her cozy outside post the daughter of Papa Clem should have clear sailing and every chance to show her stuff. #6 Fiftypercentcotton was wiped out at the start in her debut at Los Alamitos but didn’t do badly thereafter and certainly has a right to improve with a clean start. #8 Vida Bonita, a willing runner-up in her debut in a slowly run race, is another likely to produce a forward move and is a known element in this context. #5 Plus Perfect has good zip – perhaps she’s the quickest in the field – and if she can shake loose early she may get brave and keep going.