Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Apr. 20, 2012)

The Friday program begins with a straight maiden middle distance affair that has only five starters, including #1 Wild Renowned, a one-paced, grindy sort who finished second in a similar event last month. #5 Blu John is the one to fear most; the John Shirreffs-trained horse stretches out and tries dirt for the first time following a sharp runner-up effort down the hill in his most recent outing.

The second race could boil down to #2 Hennessy River and #4 Lasso From El Paso. The former drops into a high priced seller, shortens up, returns to the main track for Hollendorfer, and seems well spotted in a small, five runner lineup. The latter won a small stakes in Phoenix routing on turf but she can act at any distance or surface. The question, though, is whether she can handle the heat that #5 Love My Way is sure to apply early on; both fillies look like they have only one way to go.

The Pick-6 begins with the third race and #4 Reach a Decision will try to make it two straight while dropping a notch following a gate-to-wire score over this course in late February. He’s trained well since, catches what should be a very comfortable pace scenario, and retains Rosario. He could be a single on many tickets.

The fourth race is a poor maiden claiming extended sprint for bottom rung fillies and mares. #1 Game Charmer has lost 15 straight yet looks like a major player, rail and all. She’s a hard one to trust, but has numbers that could easily win. If she doesn’t, anybody else can.

#3 Antidote appears well spotted in the fifth race, a first level allowance affair at 12 furlongs on turf. He’s only 1-for-12 lifetime but should be comfortably placed in a field with no pace, and his runner up effort to Slim Shadey two back beats this field. He’s been freshened since late February and his recent workouts indicate he’s fit and ready.

Bottom rung older claimers sprint six furlongs in the sixth race, and with the late scratching of #3 Cardiff Giant this event looks very much like a spread for rolling exotic players. #5 Clear to Canada comes off a 14-1 upset vs. similar last month; if he can turn in two alike he can win again but that’s a big if. On pure numbers, #1 Final Journey has a big look even though he just finished second against a $4,000 claiming field at Golden Gate Fields. His trainer, Billy Morey, hits with 38% with his first-out claims, so you can expect considerable improvement today. Toss in anybody else you like.

The featured La Puente Stakes looks made to order for #2 Blingo, back on turf where he belongs and ready to resume his winning ways. The son of Artie Schiller won his debut on the lawn in November but then was shoved into graded stakes company and finished sixth in both the Cash Call Futurity and the San Felipe Stakes. He continues to impress in the morning and looks like a very good turf prospect in the making. Smith should have him along in plenty of time.

The finale, a maiden claiming sprint for 3-year-old fillies, seems fairly wide open. We’ll go three deep and hope that’s sufficient. #3 Chimi Dee is a fit on speed figurers and probably has a bit of improvement in her. She should be running on well late. #5 Ramona’s Ride adds blinkers for Ted West, drops a notch, and should flash improved early speed today. She seems a bit better than shown. #6 Warren’s Assassin is a nine race maiden but finished second in a similar spot two runs back with a good number and is reunited with Bejarano. She’s the logical choice and one to beat.