Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thu., Oct. 18, 2012)

An enticing $66,088 awaits Pick-6 players on a very difficult and challenging Thursday program.

In a high priced claimer restricted to 3-year-olds that ushers in the program, #4 Distort This almost can’t help but be the controlling speed. He returns to turf while dropping out of entry level Allowance Company and has plenty of back numbers that would beat this field. Hernandez should have him on the front end throughout as a rolling exotic single, but at 8/5 on the morning line there certainly won’t be much value.

#1 Tribal Jewel lands the good rail while stretching out for the first time in the second race, and with Bien Bien on the bottom of his pedigree there’s a chance that this son of Tribal Rule will be able to handle the extra distance (if he’s ever going to, it will be today when stretching out for the first time). He’s a solid fit based on his sprint numbers and Hollendorfer always has been strong (22%) on stretch-out plays. #4 Bluegrass Reward is strictly the one to beat. The Good Reward gelding is re-equipped with blinkers and catches a field without much pace; in fact, he could easily take control early and never look back. He also drops to his lowest level ever while retaining Pedroza and has won over this track in the past. These are the two we’ll use in our rolling exotics with slight preference to Bluegrass Reward.

The third race kicks off the Pick-6 and we’ll try to advance using just two. Our top pick will be #1 Last Equity, beaten as the choice at Pomona recently but with numbers that continue to rise steadily. With another forward move from the favorable rail the Freeman-trained gelding will be tough to beat. He’s stretching out for the first time and Krigger should have him on or near the lead throughout. #8 Jones Destiny is another stretch out play and looks quick enough to make the running if Gomez chooses to. Both of his local races make him a strong contender and his pedigree suggests he might be able to cope with the added ground.

#3 Cat’sdoubledaygirl broke her maiden at Pomona with an okay number in her first start since arriving from Texas and has a right to move forward in today’s fourth race for Belvoir while retaining Hernandez. She seems comfortable as a late-running sprinter and in an empty affair should be dangerous in the final furlong. #4 Hyena is the one to beat. The Miller-trained filly was overmatched in Stakes Company at Pomona recently but is back to reality today and has numbers that would be more than good enough to beat this field. Krigger knows her well and should have her within striking range throughout. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics and then press a bit with Hyena on top.

The fifth race is a modest maiden claiming sprint for juveniles and has very little in it. #4 Doubledeesonthetee didn’t show a whole lot in his debut but he exits a strong, live race and could be a better type now in his first start in nearly two months. He’s a fit on numbers and clearly has plenty of room for improvement. #6 Primed and Ready has been a money burner in his last three starts and certainly isn’t one to trust, but he’s back with Garcia and ran well for this jockey earlier this year. In his most recent outing at Pomona, while disappointing as the favorite, the Miller-trained gelding did finish nine clear of the others when checking in second. We’ll double the race in our rolling exotics while giving the unexposed Doubledeesonthetee a slight edge and playing a few extra tickets with him on top.

#8 Striking Spirit is razor sharp will be tough once again in today’s sixth race if he can duplicate his Pomona bullring form over the big track at Santa Anita. He’s up notch today while retaining Pedroza and looks clearly like the best of the speed types once again. And he’d better be; the veteran gelding doesn’t do much good unless he can establish his own pace. In a field lacking in effective closers, we’re hoping he can stick it out.

#9 Chimi Dee and #4 Always a Chance finished two-three in a common race at Del Mar in August and both ran well enough in that race to be major players in today’s seventh race feature. They’re hard to separate; ‘Chance has a bit more tactical speed and the better draw but ‘Dee has the more effective late kick. One of the two should win; we’ll use both.

The finale is a soft maiden claimer; we’ll use two and hope that’s enough. #3 Beau Diablo ran well in his debut 11 days ago and is wheeled back quickly by Belvoir (strong with second time starters). This juvenile colt switches to Espinoza and really won’t have to improve much to win. #8 Disarm lost a toughie at Del Mar while on the pace throughout and earned a number that probably would win this. The recent works are strong and Talamo stays aboard for Sadler. Preference goes to Disarm but both should be included in rolling exotic play.