Jeff Siegel’s Blog: “What You Need to Know” for Santa Anita – Friday, April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024

Jeff Siegel’s Santa Anita “What You Need to Know”

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “What You Need to Know” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.
The selections are posted at 6:00 a.m. and updated later in the morning to reflect late scratches and changes (approximately 10:30 a.m.). For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.
Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

View Jeff Siegel’s Prime Plays Video

RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B-
Main Ticket: 2-Rhino; 4-Special Club; 6-Bert’s Prospect.
Backups/savers: None.

Forecast: Any one of the three listed above can win the Friday opener, a mile grass event for state-bred maidens, so we’ll spread the race while preferring Rhino on top. The four-year-old gelding may have been a tad short when missing by a half-length over this course and distance in a similar affair last month in his first start since the summer of 2022. He returns showing the popular blinkers off angle while retaining regular pilot U. Rispoli, and with any kind of forward move he should be more than capable of earning his diploma in what will be just his fourth career start. Special Club may be more comfortable on dirt but he’s a strong fit on numbers and ran reasonably well under these conditions when a close fourth two races back. Bert’s Prospect was a close third in the same race our top pick exits after attempting to rally in close quarters along the rail in the final furlong when beaten just under two lengths. He may have less room for improvement that the two listed above him but should get the patient ride he needs with the switch to M. Smith.

RACE 2: Post: 1:30 PT Grade: B
Main ticket: 5-Whimsical Heir
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: Whimsical Heir towers over this field based on the speed figure she earned when breaking her maiden vs. $50,000 claimers here last month, and while this severe class drop following that win to the restricted (nw-2) $16,000 hardly is a sign of confidence, the Mark Glatt-trained 5-year-old mare will beat these if she has at least one good one left. Sparingly campaigned throughout her five race career, she’s obviously had problems, and her connections clearly subscribe to the theory that you never want to be the last one to own a claiming horse. The barn uses K. Frey quite a bit, so the jockey switch from D. Herrera (who moves to Crown of Hope) should be of little concern. Listed at 5/2 on the morning line but almost certain to go lower, the daughter of Orb seems like a logical rolling exotic single in a race that probably should be treated with a bit of care.

RACE 3: Post: 2:01 PT Grade: C
Main ticket: 1-Naismith; 5-Des Doigts.
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: There’s nothing in this restricted $25,000 claiming turf sprint to have confidence in, so we suggest you include as many as you can afford. Small ticket players may try to survive and advance using just the two listed above. Naismith offers little value in the win pool at 8/5 on the morning line in his first start in almost a year, and he’s winless in six starts over the local lawn, but he’s guaranteed a ground-saving trip from his rail post, has back numbers that fit, and is a major player by default. Des Doigts may be the quickest in the field and at this level could get brave if he can get away with soft early splits. Tread lightly here.

RACE 4: Post: 2:34 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket: 4-Flash That Smile; 8-Moonlight Tryst; 1-Raising Silver.
Backups/Savers: 6-Danzing Flyer.

Forecast: This appears to be a stronger than par maiden special weight abbreviated sprint for California-bred fillies and mares that includes a couple of fast-working first timers that should attract plenty of support on the tote. Flash That Smile is bred to win right now (Smiling Tiger) and has done everything in the a.m. like a filly with some quality. She’s never been asked for her best in her team drills for S. McCarthy but has bested everything led up to her and always has finished with something left in the tank. The barn doesn’t win often with debut runners but this one might prove to be the exception to the rule. Moonlight Tryst is a state-bred daughter of American Pharoah from the Dave Hofmans barn with series of quick workouts that should have her plenty fit. She’s been asked a bit in the morning to display her best stuff (unlike ‘Smile, who never has) but from her preferred outside draw she should be able to pop and go or settle and stalk. Raising Silver was stuck along the deeper inside in her debut last July at Del Mar and was sloppy changing leads, but still stayed on bravely to be second. She was then sent home. Worth noting is that upon her return she was scratched out of an eight runner field in mid-March (breezed six days later) and then failed to draw in from the also-eligible list April 7 (breezed the next day). She’s a first time Lasix user for C. Gaines and picks up hot rider A. Fresu, so if she can avoid trouble from the rail the daughter of Nyquist is likely to have a major say in it.

RACE 5: Post: 3:07 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket: 3-Exultation; 1-Hot Box.
Backups/savers: 6-Jetovator.

ForecastExultation has crossed the wire first in six his last 10 starts (he lost one via DQ, though he gained one, too) but in none of those outings was the separation more than three-quarters of a length, and in five of the races the margin was a nose. So, if you like him today, be prepared to sweat it out. First or second in 17 of 25 starts, the veteran gelding has been freshened since mid-February but always does well with time in between races and a recent five furlong bullet workout (1:00h) over the Tapeta training track should have him primed and ready. Hot Box, a close third in the same race our top pick exits, should be on or near the lead throughout from his favorable rail post. If he can clear early (and he might) the B. Koriner-trained son gelding could get very brave.

RACE 6: Post: 3:39 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket: 7-Nauvoo; 6-Mike Operator.
Backups/savers: 1-Atomic Drops.

Forecast: Nauvoo won back-to-back races in February by a total of 22 lengths, then was claimed by C. Alba and returned to earth. After a pair of dull, off the board finishes for his new trainer, the son of Not This Time returns to the $20,000 ranks (his claim level) and may snap back to life, though at 2-1 on the morning line he won’t offer a whole lot of value. Mike Operator, a five time winner over the Santa Anita main track, is a dyed-in-the-wool front runner, and after wiring the field in three straight dirt outings before being virtually eased in an ill-advised grass start he returns to his favorite surface and is likely to regain his best form. His best speed figures don’t match up well with Nauvoo’s, but if that one doesn’t fire this gelding is the logical alternative.

RACE 7: Post: 4:11 PT Grade: B
Main ticket: 3-I’m a Lucky Man; 4-Neon Lights.
Backups/savers: 6-Eddie’s Last.

Forecast: I’m a Lucky Man easily handled a restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claiming field over this course and distance last month and it is significant that the high percentage trainer M. Glatt wheels him back protected in this starter’s allowance event. Lightly raced with plenty of room for further improvement, the son of Dads Caps projects to be on the lead once again, so with another forward move could come right back and win again, this time at or near his generous morning line of 6-1. Neon Lights is fastest on numbers and is strictly the one to beat. In the frame in five of seven career starts over the local lawn, the S. Knapp-trained gelding has the ideal stalking style to avoid trouble and should have dead aim and every chance from the quarter pole home. He’s reunited with U. Rispoli, who won on him two runs back.

RACE 8: Post: 4:43 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket: 5-Soldatna
Backups/savers: 7-Chrome to Riches.

Forecast: Let’s take a stand in this bottom-rung maiden claiming main track miler with Soldatna, who may not be all that much but is unexposed under these conditions and could easily leave his previous form behind. The son of Girvin returns to the main track, stretches out for the first time, makes just his fourth career start (and his second off a long layoff) and drops significantly in class for a hot barn that shows positive stats in each of the angles listed above. We wouldn’t be surprised in the least if this gray gelding takes the lead early and wire the field, so at or near his morning line of 4-1 there’s a reasonable gamble to be had.

RACE 9: Post: 5:15 PT Grade: B
Main Ticket: 7-Rebalation; 4-Phenom.
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: Rebalation makes her first start following a Bay Area $25,000 claim by an outfit that has superior stats with this angle, so this veteran mare – successful in eight races from just 18 starts and protected by trainer L. Barocio – has a legitimate chance to produce a winning late bid in this abbreviated turf dash for fillies and mares. Phenom is the logical favorite and one to fear most. A three time winner over the local lawn and effective on the lead or from a second flight, stalking position, the daughter of Midnight Storm is racing in excellent form and shows a strong and healthy work pattern since her most recent winning outing in mid-March.

Jeff Siegel’s Blog: “What You Need to Know” for Santa Anita – Friday, April 19, 2024

Jeff Siegel's Blog |