Jeff Siegel's Prime Picks for Thursday, Feb. 26

We’ve got a 2-day Pick-6 carryover to attack today and it’s estimated that the pool with reach $3 million. Let’s dive in. The 3rd race has three main contenders as I see it - #1 Vague Notion, #3 Defense King and #5 Just Heat. They’ll be the first three favorites, so there’s no wagering value here, but I could see anyone of the three winning and wouldn’t feel too comfortable tossing out any one of the three. Vague Notion has improving form and should be a strong late threat. Defense King is a route to sprint play and fits on speed figures while switching to Gomez. Just Heat has a bullet work since his last race for Sadler and exits a live heat vs. straight maiden state-breds. He does lose Gomez and hasn’t been out for almost two months, so if you need to drop one to save money, maybe he’d be the one. But use him if you can afford to. The 4th race has three off-the-program scratches, so we’re dealing with a field of six. #4 Major Rock Star is out of claiming jail yet is being tried in allowance company, and that’s a strong show of confidence by Mitchell. He looked good routing when beating a much lesser field last month and we’ll see if he’s improved enough to tackle legitimate company today. #5 Advice was a quality 2-year-old last year for Pletcher and you know this colt can fire fresh. He’s certainly good enough if ready. #7 African Gray has done nothing wrong in two career starts and sharp Ted West has this With Approval colt set for another forward move. He’ll be running on strongly late. Are you brave enough to eliminate #1 Herr Mozart (Gomez/Baffert)? You’ll have no worries if you use him; but the lesser tickets might want to try to beat him. The 5th race is a maiden claiming sprint and the major players here are #2 Haughty Topper; #4 Cold Ruler; and #7 Eddie the Hat. Haughty Topper is a first-off-the-claim play for Matt Chew and he could improve while turning back in trip. Cold Ruler would seem the logical choice after exiting a productive heat but he was beaten at 4/5 in that race and may be a hard one to trust. Eddie the Hat faltered badly at seven furlongs last time but drops in class and shortens up and will take them as far as he can. A field of promising Calbred maidens do battle in the 6th race and most of the action will go to #10 Charlie and Chris. If you’re looking for a single, he might be your man, but we must caution that the field also includes a pair of very well regarded, fast-working colts in #7 Vaundell and #9 Tamarack Smarty. Charlie and Chris lost a photo in his only outing, but has trained well since, retains Baze, and lands the comfortable outside post. The pace was unusually slow in that Feb. 1 affair, but this colt is quicker than that and should show it today. Vaundell has looked the part in the morning according to the private clockers and has winning connections (Gaines, Bejarano) so he’s dangerous. Tamarack Smarty is another who appears fit and ready right out of the box but Puype’s record with debut runners isn’t impressive. Use him if you can afford to. Everybody’s Pick-6 single arrives in today’s 7th race. #7 Midships was a closing 3rd in the Hollywood Derby, a legitimate Grade 1 event, and today he surfaces in a conditioned allowance affair. The works indicate fitness and the Frankel-trained colt should be along in plenty of time. If he gets beat, a whole lot of tickets will be going down the drain. We’ll finish it off in the 8th race, a maiden claimer that we’ll double using #5 Judge Kent and #8 Pacific Halo. Judge Kent is a route to sprint play for Peter Miller, retains Baze, and is a strong fit on speed figures. He’ll be doing his best running in the lane. Pacific Halo added front wraps and was beaten on the square vs. M40,000 types recently and today surfaces at the bottom. Any one of his first three races would be good enough to beat this field; let’s hope he has at least one more good one left in him. Good luck!