Jeff Siegel's Prime Picks for Sunday, Feb. 8

Not much value in Sunday’s opener, with class dropper #6 Deep Pockets listed as the 4/5 morning line favorite. He’s a first-time-in-a-claimer play after failing as the heavy choice in straight maiden state-bred company last month. On numbers, he’s a standout but since he’s backed up from the stretch call to the wire in every one of his four lifetime starts, he may not be one to trust. Let him win, we’ll pass. The three main contenders in the 2nd race (restricted to 4-year-olds only) are the class dropping #3 Guts, who gains Bejarano after facing state bred first level allowance company in his last pair; #4 Fantasy Free, racing in good form for Becerra and a solid fit on numbers; and #5 Turn to the King, up a notch for Sadler after taking advantage of soft splits to dominate a weaker field in gate to wire fashion last month. They’re the first three favorites on the morning line, so there’s not much value in this affair, either. The third race, a downhill turf dash (and as this is penned, still on the lawn) is pretty much inscrutable. Although he’s more than good enough to win off his best race, #6 Dixie Union has an unhealthy pattern. He’s gone from the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint to a graded stakes, to an $80,000 claimer to $62,500 claimer and clearly has seen better days. Another pass. The 4th race is a stronger than par maiden sprint for older state bred fillies and mares and we could see any one of three win it. Top billing should go to #5 Magic Launch, a route to sprint play and back on the main track after failing twice as the favorite in a couple of two-turn turfers. She ran well in her only sprint try, switches to Bejarano, and looks ready to graduate. However, a strong case could also be made for #3 Kulinski Rose and #8 Ale’s Pride, second and third respectively in a hot dash last month. All three probably should be used if you’re playing the Pick-6. #5 Asian Eyes was visually impressive beating a bottom rung field when trained by Peter Miller last month and today takes a one-level raise for new trainer Knapp in the 5th race while seeking a repeat score. She’s most effective as a late-running sprinter and there should be enough early zip in this lineup to compliment her style. Bejarano stays aboard and if she’s got one more good one left in her, she’ll be along in time. A nine furlong bottom rung maiden claimer in the 6th brings out #1 Street Royale in his first start for a tag and the class drop should help wake him up. He ran reasonably over this track during the Oak Tree meeting while a earning speed figure that most likely would be good enough beat this field. #3 Kaffeinator should get some play at the windows – he always does – but after failing four straight times as the favorite, he’s somewhat untrustworthy. However, this will be his first try around two turns, and he figures to fire his best shot going long for the first time. #10 Judge Kent has steadily improving numbers and goes from Baffert to Miller. With another forward move today, he’ll be right there. The 7th race is another downhill turf dash and we’ll assume it will remain on the lawn. It’s another very tough heat and cases could be made for #4 Topper Shopper, up a level for Spawr after a nice turf sprint win in December at Hollywood Park; #6 Storm Brave, seeking his third straight win while returning to the high priced claiming ranks following a first level allowance score; and #8 Lucky Honey, who has Mitchell and Bejarano in his corner and generally is in the thick of things. Forget everything I just wrote if this race comes off the turf. The San Antonio Handicap, the final prep for older horses for next month’s Big ‘Cap, should showcase #8 Tiago and #9 Champs Elysees. Tiago hasn’t been seen since a very creditable third place effort in the B.C. Classic (finishing just ahead of Curlin) and the works indicate fitness. Champs Elysees won a 12 furlong turf marathon at Hollywood Park in December but he can handle this surface as well, as his third place effort in last year’s Big ‘Cap would clearly indicate. The 9th race, a maiden claimer for 3-year-old fillies, presents an attractive exacta or trifecta box using middle price horses #5 Dona Mary, #6 Mo Cheese; and #10 Catifornya Dreamin. Dona Mary switches to Rosario, exits a much tougher straight maiden event and should carry her speed a long way in this affair. Mo Cheese is dropping in for a tag for the first time and that’s always a powerful angle. She’s also a route to sprint play and should be dangerous from off the pace. Catifornya Dreamin is improving with racing for Gary Mandella and is another likely to do her best running in the final furlong.