Jeff Siegel’s Blog: Santa Anita Analysis & Wagering Strategies for Friday, Jan. 4, 2019

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.


Friday, January 4, 2019


RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B-

Use: 3-Taki’s Choice; 4-What’sontheagenda; 9-Exultation

Forecast: The Friday opener offers a downhill turf sprint for restricted (nw-2) $40,000 claimers that requires a bit of a spread.  What’sontheagenda shows up in a seller for the first time and should greatly appreciate the class relief.  He’s got plenty of zip but suspect stick; however, at this level he could get brave.  Taki’s Choice is re-equipped with blinkers, turns back in trip, and returns to the claiming ranks while trying to find his proper level.  The D’Amato-trained son of Gio Ponti has a prior win over the local lawn and good late kick that should be enhanced by the projected race-flow.  He also gets a slight break in the weights with the switch to bug boy Figueroa.  Exultation lands the cozy outside post in his first outing since late October and exits a tougher starter’s allowance field.  His numbers fit nicely in this league, and the son of Paynter projects to enjoy an ideal pace-prompting trip.  Let’s use all three in our rolling exotics with perhaps a very slight edge on top to What’sontheagenda.


​​RACE 2: Post 1:02 PT. Grade: C+

Use: 1-Smart Rachel; 4-Majestic Design

Forecast: The second race is an $8,000 claiming two-turner for fillies and mares that attracted only six starters.  Majestic Design was a voided claim when far back as the favorite at Los Alamitos in September and was stopped on.  She returns cheap for the hot Baltas barn after a short series of drills at San Luis Rey Downs and can beat this group with anything close to her best race.  However, at this level, condition is key, not past ability.  Smart Rachel won a restricted race for this price at Los Alamitos last month by a pole and earned a career top number.  If she can duplicate that effort today she’ll be the one to fear most.  In a race that might be best left alone, we’ll use both in our rolling exotics but otherwise sit it out.


​​RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: C+

Use: 3-Stonegate; 4-Aggressitivy; 6-Normandy Beach

Forecast: ​ We’ll go three-deep to kick off the Pick-6 in a maiden $50,000 claiming sprint.  Aggressivity shows up for a tag for the first time and should be a strong fit in this league.  Freshened since mid-November, the son of Dialed In adds blinkers, turns back from a miler, retains Talamo, and figures tough with a repeat of his runner-up try over this main track two runs back.  Stonegate also is being risked for a tag for the time and is another that should improve against this softer bunch.  This actually will be his first main track sprint – his only other short race came down the hill – and this might be what he’s always wanted to do.  Normandy Beach was stuck on the inside over the deep part of the Del Mar main tack when flashing good speed but weakening late at this level in mid-November in a race he might have needed.  Baze stays aboard the son of Haynesfield, who should fire his best shot today.


​​​RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: B-

Use: 2-Foxtail; 3-Untouched Elegance; 8-Take a Leap

Forecast: This starter’s allowance turf miler for fillies and mares appears to be a better than par race for the level and has several legitimate contenders.  We’ll use three and hope to survive and advance.  Foxtail has a prior win over this course and is solid on numbers after finishing second in her last pair under these conditions.  She switches to Rosario and projects to a have comfortable, ground-saving, stalking trip.  Untouched Elegance has the “blinkers off” angle that we like so much and the daughter of Bodemeister looks like the logical controlling speed in her first try around two turns.  When last seen in the September the Baltas-trained filly graduated in good style with a career top number in a maiden-claiming Hillside turf sprint and her recent workouts indicate she’s returning in similar form or even a tad better.  At 5-1 on the morning line, she’s a “must use.”  Take a Leap is drawn a little farther out than we’d prefer but she’s more than good enough on pure numbers to win, and the Mullins-trained filly, with only six career starts, likely has plenty of room for further improvement.  She won over this course and distance during the fall meeting in good style; a repeat of that race today probably makes her the one to beat.


​​RACE 5: Post 2:32 PT. Grade: X

Single: 2-Junior Gilliam

Forecast: Junior Gilliam has much in his favor in this extended sprint for $25,000 claimers.  First or second in nine of 13 career starts over the Santa Anita main track, the veteran Tribal Rule gelding switches to Rosario, gets an extra furlong to work with after finding five-and-one-half furlongs a bit too sharp, sports a recent bullet workout for Hollendorfer, and remains above his claim level despite being a voided claim last August.  Additionally, he has a decided edge in the speed figure department.  At 8/5 on the morning line and possibly going lower, he looks like a short-priced rolling exotic single.


​​RACE 6: Post 3:00 PT. Grade: B+

Use: 2-Railman; 6-Omaha Beach; 7-Nolo Contesto

Forecast:Omaha Beach tries dirt for the first time after flashing excellent ability in three in-the-money finishes on grass last fall.  A recent highly-impressive workout that landed him a spot on our “Primed and Ready” list (see video) provides strong indication that the son of War Front will appreciate the surface switch.  We like him on top, but both Railman and Nolo Contesto have good credentials as well, and, if you feel the need, you can include them as back-ups or savers in what is the strongest maiden race so far in the young season.   Railman has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch-out pattern for Eurton, retains Bejarano, and could find himself as the controlling speed.   The son of Overanalyze exits a pair of fast, highly-rated races and with improving speed figures must be considered a major player.  Nolo Contesto ran decently in his sprint debut at Del Mar last month and seems sure to improve with experience for Sadler/Rosario team.  Two recent bullet workouts catch the eye.


RACE 7: Post 3:32 PT. Grade: B

Use: 2-Okinawa; 7-Tonahutu

Forecast: Tonahutu is fast on figures and exits a pair of stakes races, so we’ll put the Blacker-trained mare on top and anticipate that she’ll be able to produce the last run with the switch to Rosario.  Though she’s been primarily a miler since being imported from England, we suspect she’ll prove most effective under these conditions as a late-running sprinter.  Okinawa will be part of what projects to be a strong pace throughout; her chart says that she’s most comfortable if she can make the running.  If she can shake loose early today, she could get brave late.  Both should be included in rolling exotic play; we’ll have extra tickets keying Tonahutu on top.


​​RACE 8: Post 4:02 PT. Grade: B+

Single: 8-Raul Rosas

Forecast: Raul Rosas won for fun his debut way back in July of 2017 but then disappeared.  Despite being a six-year-old gelding with obvious issues, he returns protected following a series of very impressive local workouts and has the benefit of drawing the comfortable outside post.  If he returns as well as he left – and his morning drills indicate he’s likely to – the son of Thorn Song can pick up where he left off.  Let’s make him a straight play and rolling exotic single and hope to get close to his morning line of 7/2.


​​RACE 9: Post 4:32 PT. Grade: B+

Use: 2-Vezuchiy; 9-Unusual Rider

Forecast:Unusual Rider ran very well over this course in a mile maiden affair during the fall season and then verified the form when a game runner-up effort in an off-the-turf event at Del Mar in his most recent outing that was featured in a Black Book segment (see video).  Back on grass and shortening to a sprint, the son of Unusual Heat retains Van Dyke and seems ideally placed to earn his diploma in a race restricted to state-bred sophomores.  The route-to-sprint angle is especially effective over the Hillside course.  The first-timer Vezuchiy is bred for turf (Vronsky) and has trained well enough to deserve some consideration, at least as a back-up.  The work tab shows promise, and the presence of Rosario may be significant.


Jeff Siegel’s Blog: Santa Anita Analysis & Wagering Strategies for Friday, Jan. 4, 2019

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