Jeff Siegel’s Blog: “What You Need to Know” for Sunday, April 9, 2023

April 9, 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): 1-Escape Artist; 5-Nuclear
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: The Sunday opener has two major contenders in this nine furlong maiden turf event and it’ll be surprising if the winner isn’t one or the other. Escape Artist has finished second in both of his starts to date, though his most recent outing was a tad disappointing after the son of Good Magic squandered a perfect trip while unable to make any dent on the loose-on-the-lead winner Genius Jimmy. His number was okay, not great, but the son of Good Magic certainly has plenty of room for improvement. In a race without much early speed, he could make the running and control the proceedings every step of the way. Nuclear displayed a reasonable amount of promise in his sprint debut while staying on gamely under urging to finish a willing third behind next out winner Valiancer before galloping out with good energy. He’s worked solidly since that race, adds blinkers, and stretches out to a nine furlong distance that should be right up his ally. The barn has strong stats with the second time starter angle, so the son of Justify is almost certain to improve. We’ll give Escape Artist the edge on top but include both in rolling exotic play.

RACE 2: Post: 12:30 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 6-Lunatic; 2-Big Bell

Forecast: Lunatic hasn’t been seen in 11 months after being a voided claim but if ready the Peter Miller-trained mare should be more than good enough to handle this restricted (nw-3) $20,000 band of fillies and mares. Her work tab at San Luis Rey Downs seems solid enough, she returns waiver protected, and she attracts top rider Juan Hernandez, so all systems are go. Big Bell is worth including for protection purposes. A $20,000 Steve Knapp claim last month, the daughter of Mr. Big has finished first or second in five of seven career starts over the Arcadia dirt strip with numbers that are par for this level. This abbreviated sprint distance might be a tad sharp for her, but she should be running on well late, nonetheless.

RACE 3: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B
Main ticket (in order of preference): See Through It; 2-Chaos Theory
Backups/savers: 4-Maven

Forecast: See Through It had his six race winning streak snapped in a similar starter’s allowance abbreviated grass sprint last month but with better racing luck he certainly would have improved upon his third place finish (beaten less than a length) and probably would have won it. The son of Curlin to Mischief didn’t break well, gave up early position, and then was forced wide while attempting to make up the lost ground but found five eighths too sharp and simply ran out of room. Today, with an extra half furlong to work with and a good inside draw that guarantees a ground-saving trip, the Milton Pineda-trained gelding should have every chance to get back on track. Additionally, he’s reunited with “win rider” Edwin Maldonado, so at 5/2 on the morning line he’ll be offering an acceptable amount of value. Chaos Theory was always outrun in the same race See Though It exits but was shuffled back early and was never in the hunt. With clear sailing today at this longer trip he’ll have a much better chance to repeat his clever win two races back. Maven can be tossed in as a backup. He looks very much like the controlling speed, and if he can shake loose early without undue pressure he may get brave and keep on going.

RACE 4: Post: 1:30 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 2-Katonah; 6-Finneus
Backups/Savers: 5-Hernbree

Forecast: Here’s a difficult allowance optional claimer for older horses at a mile on dirt that requires considerable coverage in rolling exotic play. We’ll use three, but if you find the need to include a few more – maybe even buy the race – go right ahead. Katonah likely will employ gate-to-wire tactics, and while the lightly raced four-year-old is unproven around two turns he could be dangerous if not respected during the early stages. The son of Klimt is a solid fit based on his speed figures and has a pedigree that should allow him to handle two turns, so with two wins from four starts over the local main strip the Doug O’Neill-trained gelding has a legitimate look at 5-1 on the morning line. Finneushas been known to burn money and therefor isn’t one to trust, but he can close well on occasion, and in a race that projects to have good early fractions he must be considered a threat to tag the leaders close home. Second in a similar affair over this track and distance last time out, he retains Juan Hernandez and just earned a career top speed figure, so he’s clearly in good form. Hembree can be included as a saver. This will be his second start off a long layoff after shaking off some of the rust in an abbreviated sprint earlier this meeting. The old pro has finished first or second in 18 of 42 career starts and was a legitimate stakes performer in his younger days.

RACE 5: Post: 2:00 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 4-For All Mankind
Backups/savers: 6-Whatmakessammyrun

Forecast: For All Mankind was quite the useful handicapper in France last year and earned Timeform ratings that make him a fit at this level, so with a strong series of recent workouts that should have him fit and ready the John Sadler-trained import looks very much like a solid win play in this second level allowance downhill turf dash. He’s a first-time Lasix and first-time gelding, attracts top rider Juan Hernandez, and has shown the ability to win off a layoff in the past, so at 3-1 on the morning line there’s plenty of wagering value available. We’ll also toss in on a ticket or two course specialist Whatmakessammyrun, unplaced in his last pair when facing graded stakes company but likely to snap back to life in this league. A winner of three races over the Santa Anita turf course including the Eddie D. Stakes last fall, the son of We Miss Artie does his best work when held up early and is certain to get the patient ride he requires from regular pilot Joe Bravo.

RACE 6: Post: 2:30 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 6-Mitico; 5-Savile Road
Backups/savers: 3-Conch Daddy

Forecast: This restricted (nw-3) $20,000 claiming sprint for older horses is borderline inscrutable, so tread lightly. Mitico just won a softer $16,000 (nw-2) dash in game style and while he’s up in class today the son of Dialed In a strong on numbers and could easily win right back. In the frame in eight of 14 career starts, the Paula Capestro-trained 4-year-old should be part of the pace, if not on the lead, throughout. Savile Row has seen better days – he was a voided claim for $20,000 last time out – but he has several back numbers that are much better than par for this level so if he can reach back for one of his good ones the Tim Yakteen-trained son of Quality Road will be quite dangerous. The break in the weights with the switch to bug boy Aguilar certainly won’t hurt. Conch Daddy may be the quickest in the field, though he’s always been suspect under pressure. If he can shake loose early in a race without any effective closers, the son of Nyquist may stick around longer than expected.

RACE 7: Post: 3:00 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 4-Conclude
Backups/savers: 5-Helladic

Forecast: Conclude was highly impressive breaking his maiden over the flat course last month, wiring the field with a stakes quality 96 Beyer speed figure while dominating from gate to wire. He’s hooking much more speed today and may be relegated to a stalker’s role, but the son of Collected is a high quality sort and should be able to score again despite the class hike no matter what the race flow turns out to be. Helladic is the quickest of the bunch and will take them as far as he can. A respectable third in the Baffle Stakes last time out behind next out stakes winner Johannes, the Ryan Hanson-trained son of Kantharos always is a bit suspect under pressure in the final furlong and needs a major upgrade in the speed figure department to challenge our top pick, but he at least he looks best of the rest and is worth including on your ticket as a saver.

RACE 8: Post: 3:30 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 7-Austonian; 5-Cowboy Mike
Backups/savers: none

Forecast: Austonian, scratched out of a stakes race yesterday for this much more realistic spot, was bet like he couldn’t lose in his debut last month but managed to get himself beat at 3/5 when he couldn’t quite catch Left Hand Man in a fairly strong maiden special weight sprint for California-bred runners. The son of Smiling Tiger didn’t break sharply, and it cost him, but he did finish almost three clear of the rest and seems certain to produce a forward move with that effort under his belt. He remains well regarded and will be tough to beat unless the Bob Baffert-trained newcomer Cowboy Mike verifies his very promising work tab. Another son of Smiling Tiger, this gelding has done everything asked of him and appears to have some real quality, so it’ll be interesting to see which one of them can rise to the occasion. We’ll give Austonian the edge on top because he’s already had an outing, but we’ll have Cowboy Mike on the main ticket, as well.

RACE 9: Post: 4:00 PT Grade: C+
Main ticket (in order of preference): 4-Big Beauty; 2-Sensible Move; 10-Dolly May
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: This messy grass grab bag for restricted (nw-2) $32,000 claiming fillies and mares could be won by just about any of 10 entrants, none of whom can be entirely trusted. Spread as deeply as your budget allows. Big Beauty returns to her claim level while stretching out to the distance and course that produced her only victory, so we’re expecting the Sean McCarthy-trained mare to produce one of her better races. She actually hasn’t routed in two years, but her sprint numbers aren’t bad, and she projects to be forwardly placed throughout from a comfortable inside draw. Sensible Move benefitted from a ground-saving trip when second under these conditions last month. Probably most effective when held up early, the daughter of Summer Front is solid on numbers and is in good hands. Dolly May gets the worst of the draw and has been a beaten favorite in two of her last three starts, most recently at odds on. Now in Vladimir Cerin’s barn following a $32,000 claim, the Irish-bred mare retains top jockey Juan Hernandez and can be dangerous if taken back early and allowed to produce one late run. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics but certainly not with a high degree of confidence.

RACE 10: Post: 4:30 PT Grade: B+
Main ticket: (in order of preference): 10-Soul of Midnight
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: After crushing a soft state bred maiden $50,000 field last month in just his second career start while earning a strong speed figure, Soul of Midnight is protected today as expected in this starter’s allowance sprint and looks well-spotted for a repeat score from his cozy outside draw. The son of Straight Fire projects to be quick enough to gain his coveted role as the controlling speed, and in a field void of trustworthy closers the Dean Pederson-trained sophomore seems like a logical and dependable favorite. A strong five furlong breeze (1:00h) last week gives further indication that his best is yet to come, so at 5/2 on the morning line we’ll make him a win play and rolling exotic single.

RACE 11: Post: 5:00 PT Grade: B-
Main ticket (in order of preference): 2-Howboutdemapples; 9-Derecho Dandy; 7-What a Dude
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: The Sunday program concludes with a starter optional claimer over 10 furlongs on grass and is yet another challenging affair that offers several possibilities, many of them at good prices. Howboutdemapples is an intriguing comebacker for the Phil D’Amato/Flavian Prat team. Away for more than a year, the Gulfstream Park shipper returns protected in a sign of confidence and should enjoy a pace-forcing, ground-saving trip while offering good value at 6-1 on the morning line. She’s a little light in the speed figure department but could easily be a much better type this time around for a barn that excels with two-turn grass runners. Derecho Dandy had a tough beat when missing by a head in a similar event over this course and distance earlier this meeting. The effort produced a career top speed figure, one that if repeated today will make him hard to beat. The John Sadler-trained gelding does his best on the front end, so gate-to-wire tactics likely will be attempted. A healthy recent work pattern indicates he’s ready for another major effort. What a Dude, a recent $32,000 claim and with plenty of room to improve, is a deep closer hoping for a hot pace and he just may get it. The son of Hard Spun has numbers that make him a threat so at 8-1 on the morning line he’s worth including on your ticket.

Jeff Siegel’s Blog: “What You Need to Know” for Sunday, April 9, 2023

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