Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thu., Nov. 1, 2012)

Breeders’ Cup week begins with a challenging eight race program with the feature for fillies and mares carded out of the pick-6 as race number two.

The opener, a one mile turf mid-grade claimer for fillies and mares, has at least three entrants with a legitimate chance to win. #1 Ambitoness seeks her third straight while moving up a notch for new trainer Hess while retaining Bejarano. She’s a veteran mare with a strong late kick and can close off either a fast early pace or a moderate to slow one. #6 Folk Dancer should be on or near the lead throughout and on numbers has a good chance to repeat her runaway Pomona score. She’s probably more effective on dirt but her turf form is pretty good as well. #7 Van Brit is another on a two race winning streak and her record over the local lawn (eight for 13) is spectacular. Away since Del Mar and dropping a notch despite her sharp form, she’s a bit of a question mark but her recent workout reports are positive.

In the featured Palm Springs Handicap, #1 In the Stars has been exclusively a turf runner so far in her career but she trains every bit as good and perhaps better on dirt so we’re not expecting any drop off in performance. She was very impressive beating a lesser field last month and should have no trouble handling this hike in class. We like her on top but also must use the Baffert comebacker #3 Awesomemundo, away since suffering an injury in the spring but training like she’s fit and ready over a track that produced her career top speed figure last winter. This may be just an overnight stakes but it definitely looks like a graded affair.

#10 Derby Hat has an improving pattern and if he can duplicate his strong runner-up try at Pomona over the big track he can be dangerous in the fourth race. Maldonado stays aboard for Bonde. #14 Secret Memo, in off the also-eligible list, is a class dropper and a blinkers-off play for Miller and has back numbers that would win this race. He’s clearly the one to beat but we’ll use both in our rolling exotics.

In the fourth race, #4 Roll Your Eyes has been off form of late but this drop into a $16,000 claimer should wake her up. First or second in half of her 16 career starts, she’s most effective as a late-running sprinter and looks capable of producing the last run at this extended sprint trip. She continues to look sharp in the morning so we’ll give her a chance to snap back to winning form.

#3 Citizenship is improving with racing and although not particularly fast on numbers probably deserves top billing in the fifth race. The Baffert-trained filly retains Bejarano, was a solid recent runner up over this downhill turf course and should produce another forward move today. #11 Van Dien Avenue had only brief speed in her Del Mar debut and then faded but she has trained much better than that of late and is worthy of another chance, especially at her morning line odds of 12-1. We’ll prefer Citizenship on top but use both in our rolling exotics.

In the sixth race, #9 Free Time, second when favored in a similar restricted claimer last month, won’t really have to improve all that much to beat this modest group. P. Val stays aboard and should have this Zucker-trained gelding on or near the lead throughout. #11 Omar won his maiden at Pomona and then was pitched too high when chasing a $25,000 claiming field going long on the lawn in his next start. He drops to a realistic spot, returns to the main track and is back sprinting where he belongs. These should be his friends. #13 Sparkling Joel, fifth in the same race Free Time exits, had a rough trip yet wasn’t beaten all that badly and likely has improvement in him. Of the three, we’ll give Omar a very slight edge.

The seventh race is a tough, competitive, entry level allowance affair on turf and requires a bit of a spread in rolling exotic play. #2 Acenda is lightly raced and improving and turned in a solid runner up try in a similar spot at a mile over this course last month. The extra furlong of today’s race shouldn’t be an issue and Bejarano stays aboard. #3 Quaintly is winless in this country but she’s been tackling much tough stakes types and certainly will appreciate this softer assignment. Leparoux might put her on the front end. #4 Elana Mar is a reliable type with a prior win over this course. She should at least get a share and is worth tossing in. We’ll give Acenda a very slight edge in a strong affair.

#2 Spit Ball tries maiden claimers for the first time in the nightcap and should improve a bunch. On numbers, he’s more than good enough to win at this level but he is a 10 race maiden and losing habits are often hard to break. You have to use him, though. #8 Brown Boss, claimed out of his debut by Hess up north, seems very likely to improve in a soft field for a barn that has solid stats with first-off-claims. #10 Green Team has an improving pattern for Blake and if he can actually get out of the gate cleanly today (he hasn’t done that yet in two starts) the son of High Brite figures to be much closer to the action early on. Let’s triple the race in our rolling exotics and then press a bit with Green Team on top.