Jeff Siegel’s Blog: “What You Need to Know” for Santa Anita – Saturday, April 8, 2023

April 8, 2023

“What You Need to Know” – Santa Anita
by Jeff Siegel, Handicapper & Analyst

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, and Workout Commentary identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.
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

RACE 1: Post: 12:00 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 9-Southern Horse
Backups/savers: 8-Thorne House

Forecast: In his first start since joining the Phil D’Amato barn, former South American stakes winner Southern Horse produced a career top speed figure when winning a $50,000 claimer over the flat course, doing so despite being forced to rally into the teeth of slow fractions that required a powerful late kick. He’s protected today in a sign of confidence while taking his talents to the Hillside Course and need only repeat his last effort to handle the raise in class. Juan Hernandez, who has been aboard in each of his three local wins, stays aboard, so at 3-1 on the morning line there should be enough wagering value to entice an aggressive play in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. Thorne House is worth including on a ticket or two as a backup or a saver. The lightly raced Clubhouse Ride gelding just won over this tricky layout and distance when handling a state-bred field in solid fashion, though based strictly on speed figures he’ll have to produce a significant forward move to repeat against this tougher open allowance field. He has good tactical speed and should be able to settle just off the leaders and then have every chance from the head of the lane to the wire.

RACE 2: Post: 12:31 PT Grade: X
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 5-Ceiling Crusher

Forecast: Ceiling Crusher is perfect in two starts and will be a short price to extend her winning streak to three in this year’s renewal of the Evening Jewel Stakes for state-bred sophomore fillies. The daughter of Mr. Big lands the cozy outside draw in the five runner affair and projects to enjoy a soft pace-prompting trip that will allow her to pounce whenever Juan Hernandez decides to push the button. She was an authoritative first-level allowance winner in her comeback in late January when earning a sharp number and has trained extremely well since to remain right on edge for trainer Doug O’Neill. Simply put, she is a logical rolling exotic single.

RACE 3: Post: 1:02 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 7-Carmelita’s Man; 6-Cash Equity
Backups/savers: 4-Flashiest

Forecast: In a race that projects to produce a faster than par early pace, we’ll zero in on the closing types in this second level allowance turf miler for older horses. Carmelita’s Man offers a reasonable gamble at 4-1 on the morning line after finishing unplaced in a similar affair last month when encountering traffic trouble that thwarted any kind of real chance to make an impact in the final furlong. Previous to that, the veteran Dean Peterson-trained gelding had consistently earned better than par speed figures when facing similar company and has finished first or second in eight of 16 career starts over the Santa Anita grass course. His strong runner-up to the razor sharp Exaulted charts very well with these, so in a race in which several have winning credentials we’ll put him slightly on top. Cash Equity looked quite good winning the race our top pick exits and must be considered the horse to beat right back. The French-bred gelding should find himself somewhere in mid-pack and then have his chance to seal the deal when the pressure is turned on. Flashiest was graded stakes placed three races back and has won half of his six career starts at this one mile trip. With Yeng Again and sprinter-stretching-out Fayathaan likely to ensure hot early splits, the Leonard Powell-trained son of Mizzen Mist should find himself in an ideal second flight early position and then be first over when the leaders, as we anticipate, come back to the field.

RACE 4: Post: 1:31 PT Grade: X
Main ticket (in order of preference): 1-Dillinger
Backups/Savers: 5-Mystification

Forecast: Dillinger had no real excuse but ran a winning race in defeat as the odds-on favorite in a similar maiden special weight main track sprint last month, staying on gamely through the lane but just failing to wear down his well-meant Bob Baffert-trained stablemate Tahoe Sunrise while nearly five lengths clear of the rest. It was his first outing since last summer, and since most second-off-layoff runners from this stable produce a forward move, the son of Into Mischief is certain to be fitter and stronger and leave at odds-on. Mystification had a nightmarish trip in his debut in that same race when winding up a distant fourth but definitely showed enough ability to be included somewhere on your ticket. After missing the break, the son of Good Magic displayed intense early speed to rush up inside into traffic before being forced to steady in close quarters approaching the far turn. The Doug O’Neill-trained sophomore switches to Frankie, and with an alert break today he could easily become the controlling speed and improve immensely.

RACE 5: Post: 2:02 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 2-Dicey Mo Chara; 7-Gold Phoenix
Backups/savers: 6-Masteroffoxhounds

Forecast: Okay, so whose turn is it today? The West Coast long distance turf division seems to offer up a different winner each time the group gets together, so with that in mind let’s spread the race while settling on Dicey Mo Chara as our top pick. A non-threatening sixth (but beaten less than two lengths) when lacking room through the lane in the San Marcos Stakes-G3 over this course and distance in February, the English-bred gelding gets a chance to duplicate his winning performance in the San Gabriel Stakes-G2 over essentially the same type of field two runs back. The Leonard Powell-trained gelding retains top rider Juan Hernandez, projects to enjoy a ground-saving trip from his comfortable two-hole post, and with clear sailing through the lane have every chance to tag the speed. Gold Phoenix, winner last time out of the Kilroe Mile-G1, has never been off the board in seven career outings over the Santa Anita turf course, can be effective at any distance, and probably deserves his morning line (2-1) favorite status. We’ll use him, but we’d rather have had him last time when he scored at 10-1. Masteroffoxhounds faltered in the final furlong when sixth behind Gold Phoenix last time out but in what promises to be a slowly run race could inherit the lead and get very brave. He hasn’t won since last October so maybe his number will come up today.

RACE 6: Post: 2:43 PT Grade: A-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 5-Practical Move; 3-Geaux Rocket Ride
Backups/savers: none

Forecast: Practical Move and Geaux Rocket Ride finished one-two in the recent San Felipe Stakes-G2 and both turned in outstanding performances in a fast, highly rated race that should set up both colts for a significant performance in this year’s renewal of the Santa Anita Derby. ‘Move was a deserving winner while verifying the strength of his Los Alamitos Futurity-G2 win late last year, and in the weeks since the San Felipe the son of Practical Joke has looked spectacular in his morning trials. There is little doubt that he will be suited by the nine furlong trip, and with his tactical speed and instant acceleration the Tim Yakteen-trained colt will offer excellent wagering value at or near his morning line of 8/5, though we suspect he’ll go lower. Meanwhile, in just his second career start, ‘Ride finished eagerly to be second after pressing a legitimate pace and today seems likely to inherit the role as the controlling speed. The son of Candy Ride has upside that most of the others don’t, but whether he can hold of Practical Move when the pressure is turned on is something that he’ll just have to prove. We’ll be surprised if the winner isn’t one or the other, though Practical Move is clearly our top pick and should receive the bulk of the play.

RACE 7: Post: 3:20 PT Grade: X
Main ticket (in order of preference): 2-Kangaroo Court
Backups/savers: 3-Bus Buzz

Forecast: After being stopped on after breaking his maiden by 14 lengths last summer at Del Mar, Kangaroo Court returned better than he left when winning a first-level allowance state bred sprint last month in an extremely hot race that produced (by far) a career top speed figure. Based on that performance, he’ll likely be an odds-on favorite in this year’s renewal of the Echo Eddie Stakes for state-bred sophomore and must be considered a likely winner unless he regresses off an effort that was certainly hard and taxing. It must be noted that in three easy workouts since that race, he’s looked just fine. Bus Buzz an impressive eight length debut maiden winner in February before finishing an admirable second behind ‘Court in the aforementioned allowance race after being subjected to severe pressure every step of the way, gets another crack at his main rival, only this time he’s drawn outside and therefore will have the option of stalking and pouncing. It’ll be interesting to see what strategy his connections choose to take.

RACE 8: Post: 3:51 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 8-Coalinga Road; 3-Silver Surfer; 5-Reckless Spirit
Backups/savers: none

Forecast: We’ll try to survive and advance going three deep in this first-level allowance grass affair, but if you feel the need to include a few more, go right ahead. Coalinga Road couldn’t act on the main track when a distant third (of four) in the Tiznow Stakes behind odds-on The Chosen Vron, so he’s back on grass today and could easily regain the form that saw him win the Cal Cup Turf Classic two runs back. The hard-knocking veteran gelding has hit the board in 14 of 19 career starts and is a perfect one-for-one at this nine furlong trip, so we’re expecting to see the best that this Carla Gaines-trained son of Quality Road can offer. At a reasonable 4-1 on the morning line in a race that projects to have a fair share of early pace, he should be able to settle somewhere in mid-pack and then have dead aim from the quarter pole home. The Phil D’Amato-trained Silver Surfer, away for 16 months, had a right to be a tad short when, after establishing the pace, weakened late to finish a close fourth in a similar affair over a mile in February. This distance might be stretching his limit, but the English-bred gelding is likely to produce a forward move, so he must be considered a major player. The “other” D’Amato entrant in the race, Reckless Spirit, had some decent Eastern form on his resume prior to his arrival at Santa Anita and did well to finish a close second in the same race that his stablemate exits in an effort that produced a career top speed figure. Frankie stays aboard and likely will give this gelded son of Tapit the patient ride he requires.

RACE 9: Post: 4:22 PT Grade: B
Main ticket (in order of preference): 4-Teton Valley; 1-Joe Don Looney; 7-Lovesick Blues
Backups/savers: 3-Manitowish

Forecast: Here’s another race that demands a bit of coverage in rolling exotic play. Let’s opt for a price (8-1 on the morning line) and put Teton Valley on top in a competitive starter’s $25,000 allowance extended dash for older horses. The veteran sprinter returned off a 13 month hiatus to finish unplaced in a tough grass sprint (hardly his preferred surface) last month after pressing the early issue before steadily retreating while clearly needing the race. It’s encouraging that trainer Steve Knapp keeps him protected, and with the return to a dirt surface that he’s always liked we’re hoping to see a significant amount of improvement in a race that doesn’t have all that much early speed signed on. Joe Don Looney doesn’t always turn in two alike but he was a clever winner at this level last month while earning a career top Beyer fig, so he has to be considered dangerous right back. Lovesick Blues, a route-to-sprint, grass-to-dirt play, returns on short rest, attracts leading rider Juan Hernandez, has numbers on the main track that put him in the thick of things. He should be doing his best work late. Manitowish, first or second in five of seven career starts over the local main track (with three wins), is solid in the speed figure department and should find himself in a pressing or stalking early position and have his chance from there. At 5-1 on the morning line, he’s worth tossing in as a backup or a saver.

RACE 10: Post: 4:53 PT Grade: B
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 8-Amy C; 10-Leggs Galore
Backups/savers: 9-Big Summer; 2-Awake At Midnyte

Forecast: Course specialist Amy C, rested since her dominating win in the Las Cienegas Stakes-G3 in early January, returns with a steady, healthy series of workouts that should have her ready for another prime performance in this year’s edition of the Monrovia Stakes-G3 for older fillies and mares. Successful in three of four career outings in these unique slalom events, the Phil D’Amato-trained mare has valuable tactical speed that keeps her free of trouble while also possessing an exceptional turn of foot to negotiate traffic when obstacles arise. It’s taken awhile for her connections to realize she is far superior sprinting than routing, so as long as she is placed properly the English import should continue to pile up the victories. She is listed at 7/2 on the morning line but we’re not counting on getting it. Stablemate Leggs Galore has been away since October and quite frankly has trained like she may need a race, though she has off layoffs in the past. Like Amy C, this daughter of Bayern sports an exceptional record down the hill, with seven wins and two seconds in from 10 career starts. In a field without her kind of early speed, she may be able to clear early and prove difficult to catch. Big Summer is yet another with an excellent record over this course and distance, having never finished off the board while winning three of six starts. The Carla Gaines-trained mare has been beaten as the favorite in two of her last three starts but her speed figures actually are rising, so with another forward move she is not without a look at 5-1 on the morning line. Finally, at 15-1 on the morning line, Awake At Midnyte, should be included somewhere on your ticket. Her only prior grass start (a nose defeat as a 2-year-old in the Jimmy Durante Stakes-G3) was good and her recent dirt sprints in graded stakes company have earned numbers that make her reasonably competitive with this group.

RACE 11: Post: 5:24 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 5-Faiza
Backups/savers: 6-Window Shopping

Forecast: Faiza is unbeaten in four starts including three graded events, and while she’s not superfast on speed figures she has stepped forward in every race, and we suspect her numbers will continue to rise as she further develops. The Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Girvin, a $725,000 purchase at Timonium last year, utilizes an ideal second flight, stalking style that guarantees a soft trip and based on her recent workouts she is ready for another major effort. Window Shopping is the wild card. Given a race when unplaced in her only start as a 2-year-old last fall at Del Mar, the daughter of American Pharoah got serious upon reappearance in her sophomore bow when winning an off-the-turf maiden miler by more than 16 lengths. Her number was strong enough to expect that she can be competitive at this level, so while Flavian Prat jumps off to ride Faiza (understandably so), the Richard Mandella-trained filly is worth including on your ticket, at least as a backup.

RACE 12: Post: 5:55 PT Grade: B
Main ticket (in order of preference): 10-Shocking Grey; 11-Ancient Peace
Backups/Savers: 3-Annaghlasa

Forecast: The finale is a messy affair for first level allowance fillies and mares over a mile on grass. Shocking Grey seeks her third straight score following a maiden win and a victory at this level when facing state-bred foes, and if she continues to improve this open company should be well within her capabilities. Scratched out of a short field in the off-the-turf Irish O’Brien Stakes March 17 but recording a breeze two days later, the daughter of Grazen should be spot on for today. She likes to settle early and blast home, and with leading pilot Juan Hernandez staying aboard the Jeff Mullins-trained sophomore offers good value at 6-1 on the morning line. Ancient Peace was a clever maiden winner when trained by Graham Motion in late December and makes her first start since for new conditioner John Sadler. She’s been working fast in a series of training track drills since raced, so she should be set for a forward move, one that makes her a legitimate contender despite the class hike. Annaghlasa has a prior win over this course and distance and returns to reality after being overmatched and unplaced in the recent Santa Ana Stakes-G2. She’ll be forwardly placed throughout – perhaps even on the lead – and against this group the Irish-bred mare has a right to be competitive.

Jeff Siegel’s Blog: “What You Need to Know” for Santa Anita – Saturday, April 8, 2023

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