Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Oct. 13, 2012)

Cal Cup day begins with a strong entry-level allowance affair for fillies and mares at a mile on turf. #1 Toomanytomatoes won her only grass outing last summer sprinting at Hollywood Park and today stretches out for the first time while landing the good rail. Her speed figures are gradually improving and her style suggests the added ground might be beneficial. However, we’ll give top billing to the Bay Area invader #8 Mum’s Truckee. She was much the best in her debut going long on the lawn despite being very green and very wide throughout. She won going away with something left and must have impressed Baze, who comes down to ride her.

#2 Back to Bako finished second in his debut but should have won, having been forced to steady in the upper stretch and then flying home but too late. In today’s second race he gets a chance to make amends, and because he’s trained well since that race and retains Talamo, we’re expecting the Heap-trained colt to be along in plenty of time.

The third race is a deep and competitive entry level allowance affair on grass; we’ll go three deep and hope that’s enough. #3 Our Boy Benjamin, away since February, is training like he’s fit and ready, gets Gomez, and has back numbers that make him a solid fit in this league. The Jones barn is very strong with layoff runners, so this Skimming colt is a “must use” in the exotics. #4 Alley Hombre exits a tough open affair and returns to state bred company today. He also shortens up in trip and should be prominent throughout. #6 Cat Meeting is lightly raced, improving, and our top pick in the race. Bejarano stays aboard and we’re expecting this Mullins-trained gelding to produce the last run.

#8 Sophie’s Secret seems better than shown and strikes us as a filly who’ll stick much better on conventional dirt. We’re expecting her to control the fourth race - a six furlong dash for maiden juvenile fillies – pretty much from start to finish. Let’s make her a rolling exotic single at anywhere close to her 3-1 morning line odds.

#2 Strong Wind continues to look very sharp in the morning so he should be set for another solid performance in the fifth race. The Knapp-trained colt switches to Talamo, lands a favorable inside post and should be on or near the lead throughout over a track that has played quite kindly to front-running routers this meeting. #3 The Humancomplaint ran very well in both starts at Del Mar; however, we’re not sure if he’ll handle two turns as his pedigree suggests he’s “sprint only.” #6 Ballard Ruler, like The Humancomplaint, is a son of Tribal Rule and therefore might be distance-challenged, but in the morning he acts like a colt that might run long. All three should be included in rolling exotics; a slight edge goes to Strong Wind.

In the sixth race, #1 Tiz Flirtatious, away since January but training in superb style for Jones (excellent with returnees), won’t be outclassed in this state bred affair; the daughter of Tizbud has been beaten just once, in the Grade 2 La Canada behind Include Me Out. She can fire fresh and she can be very effective as a late-running sprinter but today she must prove she can handle turf. #3 Teddy’s Promise is a Grade-1 winner so you know she’s good enough to act with these. Freshened since July and training like her old self, the Ellis-trained filly has the perfect style for this downhill course. #11 Unusual Hottie is genuine and consistent and should draft into a second flight, in-the-clear trip from her outside post. Gomez will have her bearing down late. Let’s give a very slight edge to Teddy’s Promise while tripling the race in our rolling exotics

#3 Mensa Heat was an excellent third opening day in an open graded stakes turf sprint and today tackles state bred company in the seventh race. He’s an old pro and must be respected. #8 Shudacudawudya is a tough-as-nails sprinter from the Bay Area – he’s won half of his 18 career starts - and likely will draft into a second flight position. #9 Derby Gold adds blinkers today for Baffert and should be primed for a major forward move. He ran very well over this main track last spring and has plenty of upside. All three should be used in the exotics; at 6-1 on the morning line Derby Gold deserves consideration in the straight pool as well.

#1 Bella Viaggia is bred to move up a ton on turf (Good Journey) and seems very likely to improve a bunch in today’s eighth race. She’s won two of three career starts and with Talamo up at 12-1 on the morning line, there’s some real long shot value here. #9 Missdealornodeal has won over this course in the past, continues to act sharp in the morning for French, and will be bearing down in the final furlong. #10 Sugarinthemorning has been racing in graded stakes of late, is drawn comfortably outside, has looked good in recent workouts, and has won over the course. We’ll go three deep in our rolling exotics while preferring Sugarinthemorning on top.

In the featured Lava Man California Cup Classic, #1 Holladay Road must be considered a strong contender. He has perked up lately in the morning and probably will enjoy this return to conventional dirt (he’s won three races at Santa Anita). Talamo will have him doing his best work in the final furlong. #7 John Scott earned a career top speed figure with his listed stakes win at Del Mar last time out. Espinoza will have him in an ideal pace prompting position. We’ll give the edge to John Scott but double the race for rolling exotic purposes.

In the finale, we’re convinced that most of these juvenile fillies will have a difficult time projecting their sprint form over a route of ground. Therefore we’ll concentrate on two that should be able to handle two turns. #7 Sacred Delight graduated at seven furlongs at Del Mar and did so with a nice pace prompting style; she’s trained well since and should produce added improvement today. #10 Graduator, beaten a nose by ‘Delight in that common race Sept. 5, is another likely to step forward with distance and experience. She may have been best when beaten so despite the outside draw we’ll put her on top and hope to get close to her 5-1 morning line odds in the straight pool.