Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Apr. 21, 2012)

An outstanding Saturday program begins with a mid-grade claiming sprint down the hill; with good racing luck #2 Muny can return to winning form. The veteran gelding lacked a clear path inside the furlong pole when unplaced vs. similar last time out but has worked well since, retains Talamo, and deserves another chance. He’s listed at 5/2 on the morning and that seems fair.

The second race only has five starters and looks like a match on paper between #1 Special Kid and #5 Ultimate Decision, neither of which offers any value based on morning line prices. Special Kid drops to his lowest level ever, switches to Rosario, and should enjoy an ideal pace stalking trip inside. Ultimate Decision returns to his claim level for O’Neill and holds a decided edge in the speed figure department. Take your pick.

The third race, a downhill maiden turf sprint for fillies, may come down to the experienced #3 Swingaway and the intriguing first timer, #9 Gem in the Rough. Swingaway switches to Bejarano for her third career start and with another forward move will be hard to deny. Gem in the Rough has trained like she has some talent for Knight, is bred for speed (Officer), and lands the cozy outside post under bug boy Flores. We’ll be surprised if she doesn’t at least show a lot of zip.

The fourth race looks fairly competitive; it’s a starter’s allowance extended sprint that may require a spread for rolling exotic players. #1 Baron Von Red left slowly in a similar affair over a sloppy track last month and the race can best be tossed out. A repeat of his easy maiden claiming win two runs back makes him a fit with these. #3 Put It There looked good graduating vs. $75,000 maiden claiming company earlier this month and earned a nice figure in the process; he can be dangerous right back under Bejarano. #6 Secret Spy has improving numbers in the Bay Area for high percentage trainer Miyadi and he gets in with a feather while trying conventional dirt for the first time. Toss him in at 5-1 on the morning line.

The San Simeon Handicap goes as the fifth race; the one to beat is #5 Compari, an excellent third in the Kilroe Mile last month and training in sharp style since for Jones. A winner of six of eight career outings over the local lawn, the veteran gelding has the perfect stalking style for this downhill course. #7 Irish Art earned a nice figure when beating a lesser field under these conditions last month; he’s been first or second in seven of 10 career starts and should fire another big shot. These are the main two contenders; you may also want to consider #8 Ain’t No Other, a very sharp second to Mr Gruff in the Joe Hernandez Handicap earlier this meeting and switching to Mike Smith while landing the good outside post.

A good group of maiden 3-year-olds sprint five and one-half furlongs in the sixth race and trainer Bob Baffert appears to have this one surrounded. #1 The Brain is a first timer bred to run long (Street Sense) but showing enough in the morning to give him a strong look, rail and all. His stablemate, #7 Designer, has the benefit of a race under his belt (nosed out two weeks ago) and this barn excels with second time starters (25%). If you’d like to toss in a price horse, consider #2 Canelo, a debuting Proud Citizen colt with sneaky good drills for Cerin, whose maidens usually run better than they work. He’s likely to go a tad lower than his morning line odds of 6-1 with Rosario taking the mount.

The seventh race is a grass grab bag for $25,000 claiming milers, and we suggest you use as many as you can afford to. Those with credentials to win a race like this are #3 Father Giles (second off the claim for Sherman while dropping and switching to Krigger); #4 Lamm (a good closing second under similar conditions last time out and retaining Smith); #5 Jairzihno (just 2-for-32 lifetime but in good form and likely to get at least a piece of it); and #11 Dress Code (drawn farther out than we’d prefer but genuine and consistent and switching to Bejarano).

The eighth race is a hot entry-level allowance dash; we’ve got it down to two, though you may wish to go a bit deeper. #2 Industry Leader probably was best when beaten last time out; the Mulhall-trained colt stumbled badly at the start and then rallied to just miss. He’s come back to work sharply since, switches to Mike Smith, and has the perfect style for this extended sprint distance. At 8-1 on the morning line he offers considerable value. #7 Cyclometer is a very fast (on speed figures) 4-year-old colt in the Bruce Headley barn; he just broke his maiden bravely and has worked smartly since, so expect another forward move. He’s 7/2 on the morning and is a “must use” at anywhere near that price.

The Santa Barbara Handicap for fillies and mares over 10 furlongs on turf is today’s main feature and offers a rematch between #5 Vamo a Galupiar and #7 Camelia Rose, who met in the recent Santa Ana Stakes over a course that had been softened somewhat due to heavy rain during the afternoon. The condition of the course probably favored Vamo a Galupiar; today’s affair will be contested over very firm ground. Camelia Rose had no excuse (other than the wet turf) in the Santa Ana but has looked especially sharp in the morning since; Rosario stays aboard and she gets a chance to make amends for disappointing as the favorite last time out. We’ll avoid splitting hairs and use both in our rolling exotics.

The nightcap is an extended sprint for bottom rung older maiden claimers. The best of the known element is #11 Father Pabst, a decent third over a sloppy surface last time out and with a few back numbers that probably would be good enough to beat this group. More tempting is the Puype-trained fresh face, #3 Tiz Savy. The son of Tizbud has shown enough in the morning to attract some attention and obviously won’t have to be any world beater to act with these. Let’s use both in our rolling exotics and then press a bit with Tiz Savy on top.