March 5, 2023
“What You Need to Know” – Santa Anita
by Jeff Siegel, 1stbet.com 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.
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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: 12:30 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 2-Buzz of New York
Backups/savers: 4-Denim in Gold
Forecast: Buzz of New York is listed as the 6/5 morning line favorite in the Sunday opener, a second level allowance turf miler for fillies and mares. Her lifetime record of 2 wins from 16 starts makes a short price hard to take, but all of the other elements in her recent and overall form clearly makes her the one to beat. A prior winner over this course and distance and with solid and consistent speed figures, the Irish-bred mare seems likely to settle in the second flight while saving ground and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. Comebacker Denim in Gold projects as the controlling speed in her first start since beating maidens over the local lawn last summer. Her work pattern at San Luis Rey Downs should have her fit enough, but her speed figures are short of what they need to be. Toss her in on a backup ticket.
RACE 2: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket: (in order of preference): Austonian
Forecast: Austonian is bred to be quick (Smiling Tiger) and has done some very good work in the morning to indicate plenty of speed, ability, and fitness leading up to his debut in this California-bred maiden special weight sprint. Drawn comfortably outside, the Brian Koriner-trained sophomore doesn’t really have a whole lot to beat among the known element, so we’re expecting a major effort first crack out of the box. There’s good wagering value at or near his morning line of 3-1 if you can get it, so let’s make him a win play and rolling exotic single.
RACE 3: Post: 1:31 PT Grade: X
Main ticket (in order of preference): Faiza; 1-Pride of the Nile
Forecast: This year’s edition of the Santa Ysabel Stakes should boil down to the first two finishers in the recent Las Virgenes Stakes-G3, with Faiza, the winner of that race over Pride of the Nile by a desperate half length, likely to be a short price to repeat. The Bob Baffert-trained sophomore is unbeaten in three starts, two of which were over a distance of ground, so from her outside draw the daughter of Girvin projects to fold over into a stalking position and then go on with it when given her cue. ‘Nile lands the rail and will have every chance with a ground-saving trip, just as she had last time when she fought hard to the wire but simply couldn’t get by. Both should be included in rolling exotic play in a race that we’ll otherwise pass.
RACE 4: Post: 2:01 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 5-Moonlite in Heaven; 4-Blursday
Forecast: Bottom-rung maiden claiming older fillies and mares meet over a mile in a race that offers little to work with. Moonlite in Heaven, a not-too-bad second over this track and distance at this level in her second career start earlier this meeting, seems as good as any. The Tim Yakteen-trained four-year-old should be able to draft into a comfortable stalking position in a field without any known late speed and then have her chance to grind out a win. Blursday, the 8/5 morning line favorite, plummets to the bottom in her third career start and is the one to fear most after exiting a much tougher and productive state-bred straight maiden grass affair in January. Numbers-wise, she’s pretty much even with our top pick, so it may come down to which one can improve the most.
RACE 5: Post: 2:31 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 1-Brickyard Ride
Forecast: Brickyard Ride has a history of firing fresh and he has worked well enough to be fit and ready in his first outing since last May. The speedy son of Clubhouse Ride will be tough the controlling speed (as usual) in this year’s renewal of the San Simeon Stakes-G3, and with a prior win over this course and distance the Craig Lewis-trained veteran is the logical top pick. His rail post down the hill isn’t great, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Motorious is the best of the closers and should be included somewhere on your ticket. Though he was somewhat below form when second in his most recent outing at 3/5 in the Clocker’s Corner Stakes, his powerful win two races back makes him dangerous.
RACE 6: Post: 3:01 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 7-Irresistible Force
Forecast: Let’s take a shot with the first-timer Irresistible Force in this maiden special weight optional claiming sprint for sophomore fillies because those that have raced aren’t terribly inspiring and this daughter of Mendelssohn has shown enough ability in her morning drills for a low profile but capable outfit to be highly competitive at this level. In her solo gate work February 19, she caught the eye when earning a solid 1:00 3/5 clocking without being knocked about and appeared to finish with something left, so at 8-1 on the morning line she’s worth a bit of a gamble. Morning line favorite (8/5) Cliquish finished a distant fourth in her debut and earned a good number but the second place finisher in that race, Conquistar, came back to disappoint as the heavy favorite on Friday, leaving us with some evidence that the race itself wasn’t all that much. Nonetheless, we’ll toss her in on a ticket or two as a saver.
RACE 7: Post: 3:31 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 3-Johannes, 9-Mi Hermano Ramon
Forecast: After not showing a whole lot of spark in his first three career starts on dirt, Johannes left his form far behind with a scintillating nine length romp when switched to grass in a hot maiden sprint over the flat course in late December, and today moves into stakes competition while taking his talents to the tricky Hillside Turf Course in this year’s edition of the Baffle Stakes. The son of Nyquist is facing a field loaded with intense early zip, so it would not be surprising if stalk-and-pounce strategy is employed by his connections. Based on pure speed figures, he’s the one to beat and at 4-1 on the morning line the one play, as well. Unbeaten Mi Hermano Ramon already has a solid win down the hill, having reeled in first level allowance foes in a hot race in late January. In his third start, he’ll be ridden by his third different rider but seems certain to receive the patient ride he requires from Umberto Rispoli. He should get plenty of help up to set things up for his closing kick.
RACE 8: Post: 4:01 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 4-Let’s Rejoyce; 1-Tizlightning
Forecast: Here’s a challenging $12,500 main track sprint for older horses that may require a spread in rolling exotic play. We’ll try to get by using just two, but feel free to go deeper if you find it necessary. Let’s Rejoyce flashed good speed for a half before gradually weakening in a tougher state-bred allowance optional claimer last time out, but this is a group he can act with. With a big break in the weights combined with back numbers that can win the son of Kafwain deserves top billing. Tizlightning makes his second start off a layoff and is likely to improve after pressing the pace before fading in the lane in a similar spot earlier this season. Though he was beaten as the favorite in that race, the son of Stanford shows a couple of decent workouts since that mid-January outing and with a clean break from the rail should be a serious pace factor throughout.
RACE 9: Post: 4:31 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 1-Doitforandrew; 2-Forgiving Spirit; 5-Virat
Backups/savers: 9-Degree of Risk
Forecast: The finale is a six furlong turf sprint for first allowance condition runners that offers all kinds of possibilities. Use as many as your budget allows. Doitforandrew still is looking for his first win since being imported from Ireland but his local form is improving, he’s hit the board in his last three, and today he’ll be equipped with blinkers while retaining Flavian Prat. The Phil D’Amato-trained gelding is guaranteed a ground-saving trip from his rail draw, so with good racing luck he should make his presence felt in the final furlong. Forgiving Spirit has won four of seven over the Santa Anita turf course, including his last pair, and though he’s moving up from state-bred company his numbers say he’s a solid fit and arguably the one to beat. Virat didn’t seem comfortable down the Hill in his most recent outing and lacked a rally despite being well positioned crossing the dirt strip. He’s back on the flat today, and a repeat of his race before last puts him right there. Degree of Risk is a most effective as a late-running turf sprinter and just finished well to be third at 22-1 in a similar affair down the Hillside Course. The Cairo Prince gelding hasn’t won in two years but with a repeat of his last race he’ll probably outrun his 8-1 morning line. Toss him in as a saver.