Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sun., Feb. 19, 2012)

The Sunday opener is a middle distance mid-grade claimer for fillies and mares and in a small field the favorites seem logical. #4 R Vicarious Girl is an old pro in the Mitchell barn dropping two levels in class in her second start off a layoff and clearly looks like the controlling speed. She’s back on the main track while retaining Garcia and has a nice easy breeze since her last race. #5 Tripped the Light and #6 Katy’s Kitty were one-two in a similar event last month but the latter gets a break in the weights with the switch to hot bug boy Flores and should draft into a nice pace stalking position. There’s really not much to work with here.

The two main players in the second race are #1 Van Brit and #8 Glorified and both should be used in rolling exotic play. Van Brit won under similar conditions in her comeback last month while earning a solid figure and a repeat effort makes her dangerous right back. Blanc should have her in a good ground-saving spot in the second flight, and with nine wins from just 22 starts the seven year old mare knows what to do with that kind of trip. He record over this course is rather remarkable (7-f0r-11). Glorified crushed a restricted $25,000 claiming field recently with a sharp number and looks dangerous on the raise with Bejarano riding her back.

The third race is a $20,000 claimer restricted to 4-year-olds and #3 Quintons Destiny is even money on the morning line following two highly-rated performances over this track. Most recently the Yes It’s True gelding won a restricted (nw-2) dash from off the pace and today goes for new connections while dropping from $25,000 to $20,000 off the Armstrong claim. Normally, a horse dropping off a claim and a win isn’t a healthy sign and in this case that could be true, but it can be argued that the new connections are just trying to win a race with a healthy ($26.000) purse. Bug boy Flores takes over for Rosario; not sure what to make of this. At any rate, he’ll be a short price without offering much in the way of value. #7 Speed Bias may be the best alternative; the Kitchingman-trained gelding returns from Turf Paradise where he chased subsequent Phoenix Gold Cup winner Derive last time out and is a perfect one-for-one over the Santa Anita main track.

Maidens sprint down the hill in the fourth race and the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics are #4 Our Merv and #7 Koast. The Mitchell-trained Our Merv adds blinkers following a decent U.S. debut in a hot race last month and certainly has a right to move forward in what will be just his third career start. He’s 8/5 on the morning line and may go lower due to the absence of a strong second choice. Koast is intriguing for Sadler; the Lawyer Ron colt exits a pair of killer races on the main track, continues to look sharp in the morning and very likely is better than shown. Rosario takes over and with the switch to turf this colt could leave his previous form far behind at 6-1 on the morning line.

The fifth race is a middle distance main track two-other-than for fillies and mares. #1 Star Presence, freshened since finishing second (in a five horse field) at this level in December, has been Plum Pretty’s punching bag in the morning but hopefully she hasn’t gotten discouraged. Bejarano, who won on her two races back, stays aboard, and from the rail in a field without much speed should have this daughter of Forest Wildcat in a good pace prompting position. She’s won here in the past and is a solid fit on numbers. #3 Miss Radiance moves up a notch following a good score here last month; she’ll be in the second flight waiting to pounce and with another forward move could be the one to beat.

Maiden claimers meet in the sixth race at the abbreviated sprint distance of five and one-half furlongs. #2 Ralphy Girl should appreciate the shortened trip; she’s plenty quick but has shown to be vulnerable under pressure in both of her career outings. Flores stays aboard for Yakteen and will have her on or near the lead for as far as she can carry her speed. #7 Vegas Rules, an okay second in her debut vs. similar, has a right to improve and Talamo stays aboard. The others are uninspiring but are lightly raced and eligible to improve; this race may be one you’ll need to spread in your rolling exotics to be safe.

The featured San Vicente Stakes goes as the seventh race and marks the return of #2 Creative Cause, third (beaten a length) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November following his victory in the Norfolk Stakes over this track during the autumn Santa Anita meeting. He certainly can sprint and won his debut so you know he can fire fresh. The concern might be his work pattern, which really hasn’t been scintillating, but it must be pointed out that he didn’t work like anything special before his debut score and he was awesome that day; he just might be the type that saves his best for the afternoon. If that’s the case he’ll beat this field; but at 3/5 on the morning line there’s not much you can do with it. #5 American Act beat Bodemeister when he broke his maiden last month and that promising colt came back to destroy a maiden field; we’ll see what this Quiet American gelding can do against a proven Grade-1 stakes winner.

The eighth race is a starter’s allowance event down the hill and the morning line favorite at 2-1 is #4 Blue Samurai. She’s 1-for-18 lifetime and zero-for-13 (with eight seconds and thirds) on turf, so she’s clearly not one to trust. However, a repeat of her race before last (under Rosario, who returns today) should be more than good enough to beat this modest bunch. We’d love to try to beat here, but with what?

The ninth race is a maiden claiming sprint for sophomore fillies and with the late scratch of #6 Gem in the Rough - the one to beat in our book – there should be little left to challenge the Mitchell-trained #11 Anna You’re Up. The second time starter adds blinkers for her first start since last summer and has trained well enough to win a below par race such as this.