Jeff Siegel's Prime Plays for Saturday, Feb. 28

The first three races on the 10-race program look fairly chalky. In the opener, #2 Kaffeinator isn’t one to trust but might finally have found a field he can beat. He’s 2-1 on the morning line, so there’s no value. In the 2nd race, #1 Turk is 4/5 on the morning line and he’s the only entrant with a prior race. The first timers haven’t been overly impressive in the morning so he looks like another short priced winner. In the 3rd race, #8 Tuscan Evening cruised to a maiden win down the hill in her U.S. debut and should be odds-on to repeat. The 4th race is a fairly competitive mid-grade claiming dash and we’ll go three-deep in our rolling exotics using #3 Steady Demand; #5 Return of the King; and #7 Masterly. Steady Demand is racing in sharp form and figures in the fray once again. He should be part of the pace throughout. Return of the King won at this level in early January, has worked steadily since, and figures to fire another big shot for Bernstein. Masterly should be in a good stalking position and won’t have to improve much at all to win it. Tough heat. The 5th race kicks off the Pick-6 and we’ll use three including #1 Bootleg Annie, #2 Wondrous Event, and #8 Tough Apples. Bootleg Annie is a tough, genuine race mare with 10 career victory and she gets the rail and Gomez while making her first start for Kathy Walsh. She should be on or near the lead from the get-go. Wondrous Event tries an easier gang today and should be close up throughout. She has stalked and won in the past, so if ‘Annie wants the lead badly enough this mare will be content to assume the role of a pace prompter. Tough Apples looks best of the closers and would benefit greatly if ‘Annie and ‘Event hook up early. The 6th race would appear to boil down to #6 Exceeding and #7 Scottish Diamond. Exceeding takes a sharp drop in class for Spawr in his first start since opening day and his condition must be questioned, but he loves this track and has plenty of back class. If he’s got at least one more good one left in him, the old gelding will be hard to handle. Scottish Diamond lacks the winning spirit of his main rival but fits well on speed figures and has run particularly well under Rosario. He should be prominent throughout. The 7th race is a conditioned claiming affair and if you’re playing the rolling exotics we suggest you spread. Our top three are #1 Sacred Mountain; #7 Utahn; and #8 Vital Force. Sacred Mountain must overcome the rail but he retains Bejarano and should appreciate the extra half furlong. He’ll be running on late. Utahn, first off the claim for Hollendorfer, switches to Talamo and could very well develop a winning punch for his new connections that he has so far been lacking. Vital Force exits a series of tough starter’s allowance races and looks like the most dangerous of the closing types. The Crystal Water Handicap for state breds goes as the 8th race and the logical choice – if ready – is #5 Bold Chieftain, who makes his first start since finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in what was a monster of a race (Goldikova, Kip Deville, etc.). His works up north leading up to his first start in four months haven’t been impressive from a time standpoint and it’s possible he’ll be a tad rusty. If so, #4 Liberian Freighter, who figures to make the running and is often very brave when left alone, and #6 Lucky J. H., who shortens up to a more favorable distance, figure strongly and either one could win. The Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs should see #5 The Pamplemousse controlling the race from gate to wire. He continues to look sharp in the morning while continuing to improve for Canani and clearly looks to out class this field. #7 Mr. Hot Stuff earned a huge speed figure with his come-from-behind maiden win and gets an extra furlong to work with today. With another major forward move, he could throw his hat into the Derby ring. The 10th race looks like easy pickings for #11 Multitasker, who flashed good speed and held on well in a strong race for the level in her debut earlier this month. She lands a cozy outside post and with any kind of improvement figures to be long gone as a likely rolling exotic single.