Jeff Siegel's Prime Picks for Saturday, Jan. 31

Yesterday's program wasn't nearly as tricky as I thought it would be and there were a whole bunch of carryover Pick-6 winners. Today's program looks challenging, so let’s dive in with several attractive rolling exotic possibilities to choose from. In the first race, #3 Leavethegateopen looked good graduating last month and might be comfortable laying off the leaders and then producing a late run in a field without plenty of zip. The Hollendorfer shipper from Florida - #4 Cowboy Connection – seems enticing as well under Bejarano. On numbers he’s a bit slow, but he's likely to improve for his new connections. #5 Devil Cat M D actually has the highest Beyer figure (82) but is catching a bit more heat today than he had to deal with in his maiden claiming win. He’s the 2-1 morning line favorite and that might be a tad short. In the second race, #9 Joe Carl finished second to Devil Cat M D (see above) last month, so you may upgrade (or downgrade) his chances today depending upon the result of the first race. Cerin has good stats with stretch out plays, so you’d probably be wise to use him under any circumstances. #10 Haughty Topper is stuck way on the outside and is no cinch (Old Topper) to route as well as he sprints, but he’s dominant on speed figures and Mitchell is superb with sprint-to-route plays and also with second time starters. If you’d like to go three deep, #4 Defense King comes out of a highly-rated straight maiden affair and surfaces for a tag for the first time. With a bullet work since ran, he seems sure to improve at this level for a trainer (Gallagher) whose runners usually perform very well when dropped into a claimer for the first time. The third race sees Bay Area shipper #4 Summer Haze surface in a $12,500 claimer after winning for half that amount in his most recent start at Golden Gate Fields. He’s certainly fast enough on numbers to win, and I doubt Gilchrist would have raised him and shipped him if he thought he was on his last legs. The Globalize colt likely will get the best of his pace rivals, but could be vulnerable to a closer, like, say, #7 Coronas At Delmar, a prototype late-running sprinter who makes his first start since being claimed by Hollendorfer and gets Gomez. Also, #9 Ernie Owl has a few angles I like – he’s a route to sprint play and a class dropper with Sorenson staying aboard for a trainer who does especially well with second-off-layoff runners. The private clockers have been raving about #6 Sweet Thoughts and that, coupled with her blue-blooded pedigree, makes her a potential rolling exotic single in the fourth race. By A. P. Indy out of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly winner Sweet Catomine, Sweet Thoughts has done everything in the morning like a top class filly although we find it kind of interesting that trainer John Shirreffs chooses to start her on turf. A. P. Indy is a world class stallion, of course, but he’s not really known as a great turf sire. #4 Dextera makes her U.S. debut for Jim Cassidy and she was listed stakes placed in Germany, so she should fit nicely with maidens and seems like a logical exacta partner with Sweet Thoughts. The fifth race is filled with a number of fast-working first timers but they’d better be able to run because the known element seems pretty strong. #6 Valkyrie Missile finished a decent third in his debut in a fast, highly-rated race won by the much publicized (but subsequently injured) Point Encounter and he’s trained in smart style since to indicate a forward move is likely. Puype’s maidens usually run a lot better second time out so this colt figures very tough. #5 Street Car flashed big speed before faltering in his debut but he’s another who has trained impressively since that race and Baffert’s second time starters are usually pretty solid. I’m not sure what to make of the fact that Gomez jumps off to ride the debuting #12 Knight’s Gold for Hess. Maybe it wasn’t his choice. #4 Pauper’s Prize closed willingly to be second in an abbreviated dash in his debut and should appreciate the extra furlong today. No doubt this is a tough race with lots of promising youngsters. The sixth race is a downhill slalom affair and most likely a spread race in the rolling exotics. The three that are “must uses” are #1 Mt. Orient, never off the board in nine career starts over the Santa Anita lawn; #4 Cat Brulay, a good, late-running sprinter making his first start on grass; and #9 Mr Gruff, a maiden winner down the hill in sharp style last month and dangerous right back from his good outside draw. The seventh race would appear to offer a free bingo space in the rolling exotics. #7 Ventura has trained like she’s fit and ready for her first start since her Breeders’ Cup score under identical conditions last fall and despite the lack of pace she should be along in plenty of time. Her uncoupled stable mate, #6 Jibboom, is the one to fear most and conspiracy theorists will point out that Juddmonte Farm, who owns them both, wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if she were to upset the favorite. Ventura already is a Grade 1 winner, of course, and Jibboom has yet to win one. The Wishing Well Stakes, another downhill turf grab bag, is the eighth race on the program and #2 Sharp Susan is the lukewarm morning line choice at 3-1. This would seem to be nothing more than a prep for the Neil Drysdale-trained mare and the work tab seems a little light. More intriguing to me is #10 Society Hostess, a proven stakes winner down the hill and very likely to be spot on after being a bit rusty in her recent comeback in the Monrovia ‘Cap. She’s come back to train in sharp style for Clement since that race and with a patient ride seems capable of producing the last run. The nightcap is a highly-contentious sprint for restricted claimers and we suggest you save enough money to spread if you’re playing the Pick-6. The main contenders appear to be #1 High Intellect, first off the claim for O’Neill but stuck on the rail with all of the heat drawn outside him; #6 Sacred Mountain, a fairly decent fourth (beaten less than a length) in his comeback and likely to be running on well late; and #12 Kearns Prints, who’s been buried on the rail in his last pair but today draws the friendly outside post. He should enjoy an ideal pace stalking trip under Talamo and shows a couple of a nice, easy works since his last race for Koriner. Also worth throwing in if you can afford to is #10 Mister Fips, freshened since November but dropping and dangerous for Hendricks and working well while retaining Baze. If held up early and allowed to run late, he could do some damage.