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: 4-Plane Lucky; 5-Malware; 7-Mai Tai
The opener is a five and one-half furlong maiden special weight sprint for fillies and mares and has three main contenders. #5 Malware is a dangerous first-time starter from the Doug O’Neill barn; the daughter of Square Eddie has been burning up the Los Alamitos main track in the a.m. and should be plenty fit for a huge run first crack out of the box. #7 Mai Tai had the misfortune of hooking Enola Gray in her debut last month and wound up getting trounced by more than 16 lengths, although she did finish second and actually earned a decent speed figure in the process. She sports a healthy work pattern since that race, lands the comfortable outside post and gets Javier Castellano, who is in town to ride the stakes. #4 Plane Lucky flashed good zip last summer at Del Mar in a pair of outings before being stopped on; she returns for new trainer Richard Baltas, lands Rafael Bejarano, and has worked like she’s retained all of her juvenile zip. Let’s use all three in our rolling exotics while slightly preferring Malware on top.
SECOND RACE (2:33 PT) – GRADE: B+
Use: 1-He Will; 7-Smart Journey
The second race is a stronger-than-par first-level allowance downhill turf sprint. #1 He Will, a decent third in his only prior start over this course and distance, has the blinkers-off angle that we like and is switching to Bejarano after finishing a respectable third in a very hot main track sprint earlier this month. The son of Cyclotron has the proper style for this layout and if he can secure a decent trip from the rail he’ll be hard to beat. #7 Smart Journey is worth tossing in as at least a saver or a back-up. A strong runner-up from a poor outside post going a mile on turf in late February, the Good Journey gelding should be part of the pace and can be expected to produce a forward move in just his second outing since joining the Baltas barn.
THIRD RACE (3:06 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 1-Rocket Fuel; 2-Saint of Saints
The third race is a powerful second-level main track optional claimer. #1 Rocket Fuel seeks his third straight win and based on pure speed figures seems the one to beat again despite the class hike. The rail post is no bargain but the Bruce Headley-trained gelding can stalk and win if needed and with plenty of committed speed in the field that strategy might be employed. Breaking right alongside and perhaps the one to fear most is #2 Saint of Saints, first off the claim for Tim Yakteen, was a fast, highly-rated winner over $25,000 foes on a wet fast track last month. The veteran gelding can be dangerous on dry ground as well, has worked splendidly since changing stables and should be on or near the lead throughout. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.
FOURTH RACE (3:39 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 2-Tama Guard; 5-Signature Cat
State-bred entry-level allowance horses sprint six and one-half furlongs on the main track in the fourth race; this is another race we’ll double for rolling exotic purposes. #2 Tama Guard won at first asking at Los Alamitos in excellent style, making the pace and then dominating to the wire while earning a number that makes him tough right back. The Midnight Lute gelding will have deal with the equally quick and far more experienced #5 Signature Cat, who’ll be making his second start off a layoff for leading trainer Phil D’Amato. A runner-up in his last three starts while earning strong figures in each of those outings, the son of Discreet Cat has won at this extended sprint trip in the past and should be able to dictate the race from where he’s drawn. Taman Guard is even money on the morning line and is a high-potential type, so he probably deserves the edge on top but Signature Cat will be a better price and surely will make a run for it.
FIFTH RACE (4:12 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 1-Bluegrass Bronco; 9-Long Hot Summer
The Pick-6 begins with the fifth race, a downhill slalom event for two-other-than sprinters. #1 Bluegrass Bronco a prior winner over this tricky layoff, continues to impress in the morning for trainer David Hofmans, and retains Martin Pedroza after finishing a close fourth under these conditions in mid-March. He’s a fit on figures and eligible to step forward today in what is only his third start of the year. #9 Long Hot Summer is a filly tackling boys but her career top number was achieved when winning over this course last summer and a bullet five furlong drill of 59 seconds flat indicate she’s ready to regain that type of form in just her second start since last summer. She’s drawn comfortably outside and jockey Joe Alamo knows her well. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.
SIXTH RACE (4:44 PT) – GRADE: C+
Use: 2-Jonny’s Choice; 4-Mr. Cartagena; 8-Apollo Ten
A moderate group of $10,000 claiming main track milers occupy the sixth race, and we’ll try to survive and advance going three-deep. #2 Jonny’s Choice won a restricted claimer for this price at Los Alamitos last month and earned a respectable speed figure; he should be able to duplicate that level of performance over a track he’s been known to like and from where he’s drawn should be comfortably placed on or near the lead. #4 Mr. Cartargena, freshened since late March, is a hard-knocker in this league and has never been worse than second in five starts over the Santa Anita main track. He should fire another big shot today. #8 Apollo Ten was a recent runner-up in a highly rated race for the level and after a long series of sprints stretches out again to a distance he’s proven he can handle. Additionally, trainer Jack Carava has good stats with stretch-out plays, so this veteran son of Tenpins is a “must use” in rolling exotic play.
SEVENTH RACE (5:15 PT) – GRADE: C+
Use: 5-Tony Tequila; 6-Donjiislucky; 7-Soap Box; 10-Dynamic Scoring
The seventh race is the first leg of the late Pick-4 and is a bottom-rung maiden claiming abbreviated sprint that looks treacherous. We’ve got it down to four contenders but not with a great deal of confidence. #10 Dynamic Scoring is a progressive gelding in the Eric Kruljac barn; his numbers are rising and in this, his third career start, the son of Smoke Glacken could be ready to win. He should be able to draft into a good stalking spot and have every chance. #7 Soap Box, second in a bit tougher spot at Los Alamitos after cutting out the early fractions earlier this month, is another with room to improve and figures to be in the thick of the battle early on. #5 Tony Tequila, in the money in his last pair, is a Bay Area invader with numbers that fit and is another with the kind of early speed that looks dangerous at this trip. #6 Donjiislucky, away since September and making his first start for trainer Steve Knapp and his first as a gelding, has worked well enough to deserve consideration and gets a break in the weights with bug boy Pena taking the call. He’ll need a huge form reversal based on his juvenile form but stranger things have happened.
EIGHTH RACE (5:39 PT) – GRADE: B+
Use: 1-Nancy From Nairobi; 4-Fanticola; 6-Wekeela
The featured eighth race is the Gamely Stakes, a Grade-1 nine-furlong turf event that attracts the eastern invader #6 Wekeela. A group stakes winner in France last year, she made a very favorable impression in her U.S. debut last month when finishing an excellent second to champion Tepin in the Grade-1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland and has no one of that ilk to worry about today. If she reproduces her best form, the Chad Brown-trained French-bred will be tough to deny. #4 Fanticola was victimized by a poor draw and very wide trip when an unlucky third in the Royal Heroine Stakes over a mile earlier this month; this nine-furlong trip is stretching her limit but the always genuine Canadian-bred mare should enjoy a comfortable pace pressing trip and offers a bit of value at 6-1 on the morning line. #1 Nancy From Nairobi continues to improve as she acclimates and in seeking her fourth straight victory the John Sadler-trained English-bred mare just might be this good. She won at this trip earlier in the meeting and if she can get some help up front she’ll be heard from late. We’ll include all three in our rolling exotics while recognizing that if Wekeela brings her best stuff she’ll likely justify her strong favorite’s role.
NINTH RACE (6:09 PT) – GRADE: B-
Use: 2-Karma King; 5-Out of Patience; 6-Story to Tell
The ninth race is an extended sprint for $32,000 older claimers. #6 Story to Tell moves up a notch after crushing a slightly softer field with a career top speed figure earlier this month; if he can turn in two alike he’ll be tough right back. A nice five-furlong drill since that win is a positive sign. #5 Out of Patience is living high these days; the veteran hard-knocker is seeking his fifth straight score and in the current streak he has won both sprinting and routing. This one-level raise in class should be within his range and with bug boy Lindsay staying aboard the Gary Stute-trained gelding will be in receipt of nine pounds from Story to Tell. #2 Karma King, first off the claim for Peter Miller (35% with a massive flat-bet profit with this angle), failed as the favorite when third beaten more than six lengths behind Story to Tell last time out, but is eligible to close that gap for his new connections and switches to Bejarano. Never out of the money in four starts over the Santa Anita main track, this consistent gelding is worth including in rolling exotic play.
TENTH RACE (6:39 PT) – GRADE: C+
Use: 6-Mostinterestingman; 7-Scatastrophe; 10-Clear the Way
The finale is a maiden $50,000 claiming affair at nine furlongs; it’s a wide-open affair with several price possibilities. #6 Mostinterestingman should enjoy this longer trip; he’s been closing well but much too late in a mile events on the lawn and very likely will improve with more ground to work with. He’s broken slowly in all three of his starts to date but if he ever learns to leave with his field he may be able to lay a little closer. #7 Scatastrophe will race without blinkers for the first time in his five race career and should improve; the Simon Callaghan-trained gelding has enough tactical speed to be within range and in a soft field rates a good look. #10 Clear the Way shows up in a claimer for the first time and is a fit on speed figures, though the outside draw does him no favors. At this level and at this trip, the D’Amato-trained son of Fort Prado may be the one to fear most. These are the three we’ll prefer but best advice is to use as many as you can afford to.