Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., March 17, 2012)

Heavy overnight rains have rendered the main track sealed and sloppy and have forced the cancellation of turf racing. There’s a Pick-6 carryover of $81,796 to entice players.

The opener is a $32,000 claiming sprint for 4-year-olds. Sound advice would be to watch a few races to see how the track is playing but for those who want the action, #1 Jim’s No Preacher and #4 Quintons Destiny seem fairly logical. The former is a first-off-the-claim play for Asmussen and drops a notch after exiting a very hot race last month. If he can handle the wet track – and he’s bred to do just that – the son of Ministers Wild Cat could be tough on the front end. The latter, claimed in his last pair and now in the Ted West stable, does his best work from off the pace and is a strong fit on numbers following a pair of sharp wins against lesser foes earlier this season.

The second race is a maiden mile affair for 3-year-olds and upward. #4 Patriot’s Voyage has been extra sharp in the morning while getting cranked up for his first start since June and could very well be a better type this time around. He should handle the wet track – the Deputy Minister sire line is known for that – and his front running style should work over the sloppy surface. Baffert ‘s stats with comebackers are off the charts (40% with a flat bet profit).

We’re looking at #5 Pop the Cork and #7 Tribal Dreams as the main contenders in the third race, a seven furlong sprint for $16,000 3-year-olds. Pop the Cork drops drastically in class for O’Neill and should fit much better in this league; his win against starter’s allowance foes two runs gives him the edge in the speed figure department. Tribal Dreams got his number put up via disqualification in his debut in a fairly decent maiden claimer and he’s trained well since for hot trainer Victor Garcia. He goes from the rail to the outside and should enjoy a lovely pace prompting trip.

The fourth race begins the Pick-6 and the Irish O’Brien Stakes field has been reduced to five with the switch to the main track. Bay Area invader #3 Advance Ticket earned a giant figure when winning a nice allowance race over the all weather surface at Golden Gate Fields last month and if she can duplicate that effort here she can score right back. But she’s never seen an off track; in fact, none of the five remaining entrants have, either. Basically, the race is inscrutable, so best advice is to use as many as you can afford to in rolling exotic play.

The fifth race, maiden special weight sprint for 3-year-olds, has been reduced to six and we may even lose one or two more before post time. #4 Cast a Doubt and #9 I Know I Know have shown they can run some but both exit maiden claiming races. The former, away since Del Mar, has been working like he’s fit and ready for Bonde while the latter makes his first start for Sadler (39%, flat bet profit with claims) after flashing good zip in his debut earlier this meeting. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.

Maiden claimers meet in the sixth race, an extended sprint for $30,000 3-year-olds. We like #8 Visible Marq, a class dropper in the Baffert with good recent workouts and numbers that are better than par for this level. A repeat of his race before last should be more than good enough to win, and his pedigree suggests that he shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the off track.

A bottom rung $8,000 claimer restricted to four-year-olds occupies the seventh race, and we’ll go two-deep in our rolling exotics. #2 Mack’s Gold Bullet is realistically spotted after being claimed for $12,500 three runs back. He switches to Rosario and should be in the first flight throughout. #8 Speed Bias is another dropping for the money run and figures to be prominent outside after exiting a blazing heat against considerably tougher foes last month.

The featured Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational will have no show wagering after the field was cut to just four starters following the declarations of #3 Kayce Ace and #6 Awesomemundo. #4 Ellafitz will be odds-on to take her fourth in a row and should have no trouble getting her coveted front running trip. She’s never been over a wet track but she’s by Tiznow, who gets runners who enjoy the mud. #5 Include Me Out will have her within her sights and if she continues to improve she could make a run for it, especially at this nine furlong trip which might be stretching the favorite’s limit.

The finale is a split of the sixth race, a maiden claimer at six and one-half furlongs for 3-year-olds. The two we’re looking at are #7 Patriotic Lion, an eight race maiden but coming off an improved run when second vs. similar, and #10 Dream Caught, in the money in three of his last four starts with solid figures for the level. Feel free to go deeper in your rolling exotics if you can afford to.