FIRST RACE (12:30 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 3-Storm the Shore; 6-Jimmy Shoes
The Saturday opener seems like a good spot for #3 Storm the Shore to earn his diploma. The improving son of Midshipman tries grass for the first time – there’s no reason he won’t handle it – and with another forward move the Mike McCarthy-trained colt should be tough to deny. He’s clearly the best of the known element on paper, though we’re quite sure that #6 Jimmy Shoes is a whole lot better than his disastrous debut over a wet fast track would indicate. The Doug O’Neill-trained son of Majesticperfection trained very well prior to that race and trained just as well since, so at 12-1 on the morning he’s worth tossing in as well.
SECOND RACE (1:00 PT) – GRADE: No Play
A modest field of $20,000 sophomore fillies is topped by the class-dropping #3 Sambamzajammin, a first-time-in-a-claimer play from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn. Stakes-placed on a number of occasions but coming off two dull efforts, the daughter of Heatseeker should enjoy the class relief, though at 9/5 on the morning line she certainly doesn’t offer much in the way of value. This is a good race to sit out and pass.
THIRD RACE (1:31 PT) – GRADE: No Play
#6 Celebrity Status just won a similar bottom-rung middle-distance claimer and picks up 2 lbs. while trying for a repeat score. If he can turn in two alike – and keep in mind he’s 3-for-30 lifetime – the veteran son of Vronsky can score again, but at 6/5 on the morning line there really isn’t much we can do with him. This is another race that probably is best left alone.
FOURTH RACE (2:03 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 6-Royal Banker; 7-Hobbits Hero
#7 Hobbits Hero made the running and kept on going to beat $25,000 foes over this course and distance last month and moves up notch while seeking a repeat score for new trainer Peter Miller, whose record with first-off-the-claims is borderline incredible (35% with a flat-bet profit). The Aragorn gelding is most effective on the pace but can stalk and win if need be, so Bejarano, who knows him well, has a few options. #6 Royal Banker is back at a flat mile, arguably his favorite trip, and a repeat of his clever win two races back vs. slightly tougher foes puts him in the picture. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics while preferring Hobbits Hero on top.
FIFTH RACE (2:35 PT) – GRADE: B+
Use: 1-Songforjohnmichael; 4-Cat Burglar
#1 Songforjohnmichael turned in a superb performance when winning his recent comeback over seven furlongs from mid-pack; today the Dan Hendricks-trained gelding moves up into listed stakes company while stretching out to a mile but seems more than capable of handling this tougher assignment. A winner of four of his last five starts, the versatile son of Songforaprayer should be forwardly placed from the rail and have every chance in his first added money appearance. #4 Cat Burglar pressed the pace and then weakened late when a fairly-close fourth in the San Antonio S.-G2 in mid-February, and is the likely choice and one to beat in this softer affair. Bejarano should have him in an ideal pace-prompting position. We’ll include both in our rolling exotics and then press on top using Songforjohnmichael.
SIXTH RACE (3:08 PT) – GRADE: C+
Use: 1-Clude; 5-He’s a Knockout; 7-Gone With It
This abbreviated sprint for maiden $30,000 claimers doesn’t have a whole lot in it, which is why eight-race maiden #7 Gone With It is listed as the 9/5 morning line favorite. In the money in four of his last five starts, the Phil Oviedo-trained gelding is overdue for a win and may have finally found a field he can handle. #1 Clude, away since July but training well for Doug O’Neill at Los Alamitos, returns with blinkers on and as a first-time gelding, so he’s very likely better than shown, as his vastly-improved recent workouts would lead you to believe. With Prat taking the call, the son of Include should be a major player, assuming he can avoid trouble from the rail. #5 He’s a Knockout has some okay drills for clever trainer Steve Miyadi, whose first-timers often run better than they work. The son of Bellamy Road certainly won’t have to be a world beater to act with these.
SEVENTH RACE (3:40 PT) – GRADE: B
Use: 1-Cape Wolfe; 7-Guns Loaded
The San Simeon S.-G3 for older turf sprinters appears to be another logical spot for the razor sharp #7 Guns Loaded, a winner of an off-the-turf allowance race two runs back and then an equally impressive victor over this course and distance in the listed Joe Hernandez S. in late February. The Doug O’Neill-trained gelding employs an excellent stalking style than usually keeps him free of trouble, and with regular pilot Santiago Gonzalez sidelined, the son of D’wildcat is re-united with Bejarano, who has won on him in the past. We’ll put him on top but also include in our rolling exotics #1 Cape Wolfe, back sprinting where he belongs and a strong factor off his sharp third place effort in the Clocker’s Corner S. under these conditions earlier in the meeting.
EIGHTH RACE (4:10 PT) – GRADE: C+
Use: 2-Dustin’s Passion; 6-Lucky Shoes to Win; 8-Kill Shot
Older restricted (nw-3) $16,000 claimers meet over a mile in what appears to be something of a chaotic affair. 6 Lucky Shoes to Win is racing in sharp form for good trainer Jeff Mullins and should fire another big shot today. Pedroza gets back aboard – he’s won on him in the past – and should have him on or near the lead throughout. First-time gelding #2 Dustin’s Passion was in too tough in his last pair, but was a winner the last time he appeared for this claiming tag last December, and this field isn’t really all that much tougher than the one he beat then at Los Alamitos. The switch to Prat doesn’t hurt any. #8 Kill Shot had a recent sprint prep vs tougher and will get serious today with the class drop and the stretch out in trip. Baze stays aboard and should have this veteran gelding doing his best work from a stalking spot. Let’s use all three in our rolling exotics but not with any great deal of confidence.
NINTH RACE (4:40 PT) – GRADE: B-
Use: 2-Jason X L; 12-Jazzie Cat; 13-Summer Chat
#13 Summer Chat was extremely well-meant in his debut but weakened late and wound up second in a similar event last month; he should be fitter and tougher today and from his outside post Delgadillo can employ stalking tactics if the situation allows. He’s less exposed than the others so for that reason alone we’ll put him on top. #12 Jazzie Cat, in the money in both of his starts to date, returns to the main claiming ranks and has numbers that make him a contender. He was a beaten a head vs Maiden $30,000 foes in his debut and then overcame a troubled start to wind up a distant third in a tougher straight maiden state-bred affair last month. With good break today, he’ll be in the firing line throughout. #2 Jason X L is a first-timer by Dixie Chatter with a useful series of workouts at Los Alamitos and Bejarano in the saddle. He probably should be included in rolling exotic play.
TENTH RACE (5:10 PT) – GRADE: B+
Use: 2-St. Joe Bay; 9-Storm Comin Thru; 10-To The Bar
This entry-level allowance turf miler has many possibilities, the most attractive of which is the Ron Ellis-trained #10 To the Bar. Given a run in his recent comeback, the lightly-raced gelding should be much fitter and tougher today, especially with the switch to his preferred surface (turf). Like last year, the son of Lemon Drop Kid should produce a major forward move in his second start in his activity cycle, and at 10-1 on the morning line he offers considerable long shot value. #2 St. Joe Bay finished second in his last pair while earning solid speed figures, retains Talamo, and has that two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern that we like to lean on. From his inside post the Peter Miller-trained colt may find himself as the controlling speed, and given that kind of trip he might not look back. #9 Storm Comin Thru is winless in three career starts on turf but he did finish a solid third under similar conditions on New Year’s Day, and a repeat of that race puts him in the picture. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics, with preference on top going to To the Bar.
ELEVENTH RACE (4:35 PT) – No Play
The finale is carded for Arabians, and while we don’t profess to have any expertise in the event it’s fairly obvious that #3 Paddy’s Day won’t be leaving at anywhere close to his “fictional” morning line of 4-1 (try odds-on). This isn’t a race we’ll be getting involved in, though rolling exotic players appear to have a free bingo space singling Paddy’s Day.