Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis for Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009

Wednesday's opener is a modest $50,000 maiden claimer that might be best left alone. #5 Swiss Currency, #3 Big Bad Boo and #1 Sky’squickscore all exit straight maiden events but none have done enough to inspire confidence even at this level. Of the three, Swiss Currency may have the most upside. #6 Good Turn is a first timer with a couple of bullet works to his credit but hasn’t really impressed the private clockers. And #4 Swiss Emperor has speed breeding and solid connections but really hasn’t shown much gate zip in the morning. Might be best to go with the usher’s tip in this one.

#2 Sidney’s Candy was arguably the most impressive maiden winner of the Del Mar season and it’ll be quite interesting to see how he returns following a layoff reportedly caused by sore shins. The son of Candy Ride should be set to resume his winning ways in the second race and a bullet 1:12 flat six furlong drill on Christmas day indicates he’s fit to fire. The 99 Beyer speed figure earned his four length maiden romp was superb and the form has held up, as runner up Who’s Up went on to win the Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park. #4 Tiny Woods actually beat Sidney’s Candy by a head when the latter was making his racing debut last July but really didn’t confirm that promise in a pair of subsequent efforts, although his third place performance in the Golden Nugget Stakes at Golden Gate in November (80 Beyer) wasn’t too bad. Both #6 Indian Firewater and #1 Cardiff Giant have better than par numbers for the level but neither have the upside of the Sadler colt, who likely will leave at a price too short to play.

Sadler has another promising son of Candy Ride in today’s third race, #5 Ivory Fudge, a progressive sort who stretches out in this mile maiden affair for juveniles. A late (June) foal who should continue to develop with experience and maturity, Ivory Fudge has rapidly improving numbers, most recently finishing a close third in a solid maiden dash earlier this month at Hollywood Park. He switches to Talamo and there’s no reason to believe he won’t enjoy the added ground. He’ll have to face again the colt that finished just ahead of him in that common maiden sprint Dec. 6 across town, #7 Brace Yourselves. In the money in both of his outings and a son of the terrific race mare Pacific Squall, the Paco Gonzalez-trained colt should continue to move forward and with only two races on his resume might have a bit more upside in him than Ivory Fudge. The impeccably-bred first timer from Bob Baffert’s barn, #1 Take Control (A. P. Indy from Azeri) has plenty of foundation but hasn’t done anything in the morning that would lead one to believe he’s capable of winning first time out.

In the fourth race, #8 Smoky Beau has had six chances to graduate and the best he’s managed was a third place effort in a similar bottom rung maiden claimer earlier this month at Hollywood Park. However, a little will go a very long way in a poor heat, and he’ll get plenty of play when punters notice that in his last race he finished only a neck behind Bullfighter, who came back to romp in Sunday’s opener. The one to fear most is #1 Silverado Gold, who ran well enough two races back win a race like this and has the benefit of the inside draw. #5 Prevailing Wind has yet to hit the board in eight career starts; maybe this drop to the bottom level today for hot trainer Cassidy might wake him up.

The fifth race is a mess, and if you’re playing any kind of rolling exotics you may want to spread. #2 Camisado is veteran with a winning spirit and good recent form and deserves top billing. He has his issues, but at this level don’t they all? #5 Tiz Afire, fourth in the same race Camisado exits, retains Bejarano and could clunk up and get a piece of it. #7 Changing exits a softer race but is a solid fit on speed figures and has won over this track in the past. And #8 Souvenir Slew has a touch of back class and has been facing much tougher of late.

The sixth race is another bottom rung maiden claimer, a split of the fourth race, and the two most likely to run well are #1 Country Tough and #7 Prince Novetti. The former retains Rosario, lands the rail, stretches out and has a big look off his runner up try two runs back. Prince Novetti, second off the layoff and switching to Talamo, should be the most dangerous of the closers and has several back numbers that would be good enough to beat this field.

Today’s feature is a very competitive second level allowance race and a strong case can be made for any one of three. #1 Viscount looked good winning vs. softer over the Pro Ride surface two runs back at Oak Tree and was a too-little-too-late fifth when backed up in trip in the Damascus Stakes. Freshened and working very sharply for his return, the Baffert-trained colt should be rolling late. #4 Times Gone By exits the Grade 1 Hirsch Stakes at Oak Tree and seems sure to improve at this level and with the return to the main track. Recent works indicate he’s right on edge. #7 Deal Breaker earned a good figure winning over the Pro Ride at Oak Tree and is another who has trained especially well of late for new trainer Mitchell.

The nightcap is a restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claimer and probably requires a spread if you’re playing any rolling exotics. We’ll recommend #2 Phantom Strike (dropping to his lowest level ever); #5 Malibu Canyon (retains Rosario and also dropping and dangerous); #10 Brian the Brave (has won over this track and fits nicely on speed figures); and #12 Spinning Sound (in good form and looks dangerous from off the pace).