Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Oct. 6, 2012)

A Pick-6 carryover of $36,436 enhances an outstanding Saturday program with three key Breeders’ Cup prep races highlighting the 10 race agenda.

#5 So Brilliant launches a comeback in the opener for Baffert and if he returns as well as he left he can handle this field. Unbeaten in two starts including a win in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes as a 2-year-old, the son of Medaglia d’Oro has trained like he’s fit and ready for a barn that wins with a remarkable 38% of its layoff starters while achieving a flat-bet profit.

#1 Career Student has shown plenty of speed in the morning, but everybody knows Headley lets ‘em roll, so the raw workout times don’t always paint an accurate picture. This son of Smarty Jones has looked good, though, so in today’s second race, a below par race for older maidens, we’ll use him in our rolling exotics. Top billing goes to #2 Congregationalist, improving with each outing for Cerin and a sharp runner-up at 24-1 in a similar affair at Del Mar in late August.

The Arroyo Seco Mile, card as the third race, has two standout contenders that will get most of the play so there’s really no value unless you can take a stand. We can’t. #3 Obviously and #1 Mr. Commons were separated by a diminishing nose when they met at Del Mar but today’s there’s a six pound shift in weights in favor of Mr. Commons. However, Obviously once again is the controlling speed and if he switches off at any stage while on an easy lead he could be impossible to catch again. We’ll use both in rolling exotic play; you can do the same or simply pass the race.

In the Tim Conway Stakes, the fourth race on the program, #6 Scherer Magic exits the best races and today adds blinkers for the first time. There should be plenty of early heat to set things up for his late kick, and with Pedroza riding him back we’re expecting the Sadler-trained gelding to be along in time as a straight play and rolling exotic single.

The fifth race is an open juvenile two-turn turf affair; we’ll go three deep and hope that’s enough. #1 Avare, a second time starter stretching out and switching to grass for O’Neill, ran decently in his debut when fourth in an abbreviated sprint and seems very likely to improve under these conditions. He lands the good rail and switches to Gomez. #3 Irish Surf, improving with racing for Hendricks, certainly is bred to love the sod (Giant’s Causeway) and figures to be running on strongly late. We’ll give the edge to Irish Surf but use both in our rolling exotics.

In the sixth race, #3 Natalie’s Academy drops to her lowest level ever and may have found her winning class today. She ran quite well over this conventional dirt surface last spring and her recent numbers have been solid. Maldonado knows her well. #13 Heartless Honey is another class dropper with a big look over a track she’s run well at in the past. Gryder will have her in an ideal pace prompting position. We’ll give Heartless Honey a slight edge while doubling the race in our rolling exotics.

The seventh race is a tough downhill grass grab bag requiring a spread for rolling exotic players. #8 Bev N Bud broke his maiden in sharp style at Del Mar recently and earned a number that makes him competitive right back in this starter’s allowance affair. He has a good stalking style for this course and rates a strong look in his first ever outing on turf. Rock Off was visually very impressive in his maiden claiming win at Hollywood Park and although he didn’t make an appearance at Del Mar the recent works for Canani indicate he’s fit and ready. A concern is a lack of prior success (in four outings) down the hill but it’s quite possible that the son of Rock Hard Ten is simply a better type now. Hammer the Bay, first off the claim for Peter Miller, crushed a soft maiden claiming field at Del Mar and earned by far a career top speed figure. He’s protected in starter allowance company in his first start since late July – a positive sign – and on pure numbers he’s right there with these.

Old pro #2 Amazombie is the champ and has never looked better in the morning but the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, carded as the eighth race, really isn’t much more than a Breeders’ Cup prep for the Spawr-trained gelding. Of course he can win but we doubt Spawr wants a really hard, taxing effort. #3 Coil is re-equipped with blinkers and is dangerous at any distance. He should draft into a nice second flight position. #7 Reneesgotzip is clearly the quickest of the quick and has a good chance to take her male rivals a very long way on the front end. Don’t underestimate her, she’s dangerous at 6-1 on the morning line.

#2 Byrony likes to win races, can turn it on late, and seems capable of producing the last run in the ninth race, the Swingtime Stakes. Overmatched in the Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar but not today, the Sadler-trained filly switches to Nakatani and can beat this field with a repeat of her race before last, a strong runner-up try in the Osunitas Stakes. #10 Lady Ten, thoroughly consistent and dangerous, won the Sandy Blue Stakes at Del Mar with a career top figure and we’re anticipating another forward today. She’s never won on this course but has finished second in all three of her prior outings. The slight edge goes to Byrony but both should be included in rolling exotic play.

The finale is a bottom rung maiden claimer has very little depth or quality and most of the field already has been thoroughly exposed. #2 Key Reversal was claimed for $40,000 out of his Del Mar debut and today shows up for half that price in his first start for Sadler. One race isn’t a career, so today we’ll find out if he can run at all. Certainly not much will be needed. The barn is 33% first off the claim with a flat bet profit.