Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sun., Dec. 30, 2012)

The penultimate program on the 2012 thoroughbred racing calendar is highlighted by the Robert J. Frankel Stakes for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on turf. As this is written, the race remains on grass, so we’ll handicap it as such. Be sure to check later in the morning for any late scratches and surfaces switches.

In the opener, Mary Contrary has won over this track in the past and comes into this modest affair following a useful third place performance in a similar spot across town. She switches to Gryder and should draft into a comfortable second flight, ground-saving position. Miss Lady Ellen has the always dangerous blinkers off angle working for her today and the O’Neill-trained filly looks quickest of the quick. She may get brave with the return to the claiming ranks. Both should be used in rolling exotic play; we’ll give Miss Lady Ellen a slight nod.

The second race brings back Maker or Breaker, an exciting prospect in the Baffert barn. She was an impressive maiden win during the autumn meeting she’s trained like a future star ever since. There’s no value here at 6/5 on the morning line, but the daughter of Empire Maker looks every bit like a rolling exotic single.

The third race is for maiden two year old fillies and appears to boil down to just two contenders. Scherzinger joins the Hollendorfer after an impressive debut try at Calder in November, and while she may not turn out to be another Blind Luck, she can run and has worked sharply since arriving in California. Talamo will have her rolling late. Blushing Angel is improving with racing for Sadler and continues to impress in the morning. She deserves top billing but both should be included in your rolling exotics.

Schiaparelli was a tad rusty in her comeback but did well to finish third behind pace-controlling Kindle in a hot race for the level. She’s done very well in the morning since and seems sure to move forward in a big way in the fourth race. The daughter of noted course specialist Cambiocorsa clearly loves the Hillside as well and we’re expecting Talamo to have her along in plenty of time. You should also consider Kune Kune in the exotics. The Drysdale-trained filly returns to sprinting and might be most comfortable under these conditions. She’s back with Gomez, who won on her during the autumn meeting over this course.

The fifth race is a very weak maiden claimer and might be best left alone. For those wanting the action, consider Trice Up (back numbers than can win) and Bugsy Losty (a closing third in his only start last summer and with a solid six furlong drill last week to have him ready off the bench).

The sixth race, a middle distance claimer restricted to three-year-olds, looks like a logical spot for Won Won Oh Five to come back and win again. Genuine and consistent, the Dollase-trained colt is drawn well inside and should find himself in a perfect second flight, stalking position. He’s a perfect one-for-one over the track and doesn’t really have a whole lot to beat.

Streets of Heaven can handle his seventh race rivals if he can avoid trouble from the rail. Always most effective as a late-running sprinter, the veteran gelding has been first or second in exactly half of his 40 career starts. Bejarano can have him tag the speed late. Tweebster is worth tossing in your exotics; the Baffert-trained gelding takes a nosedive in class and if he has one good one left he’ll be dangerous in this league.

Halo Dolly is a pro’s pro and will give it everything she has in the featured Frankel Stakes. She’s drawn well inside and should be prominent throughout. Tiz Flirtatious, runner-up in the Matriarch last month across town, continues to improve with experience and her numbers increase with every outing. He recent drills signal another major forward move is on the horizon. Both should be used in you rolling exotics; we’ll give Tiz Flirtatious top billing.

In the finale, Shame on Alex has improving numbers and likely can step forward again for good trainer Ellis. Espinoza takes over from Talamo, who jumps off to ride the Mandella dropper Unmarked Bills. Hold’em Hustler tries maiden claimers for the first time and seems sure to improve. He should be running on strongly late. Mind the Master ran well in a slightly lesser affair recently and has that enticing blinkers off angle working for him. With Bejarano taking over, he looks quite dangerous. Let’s go three deep in rolling exotic play (you can toss in Unmarked Bills as well if you can afford to) while giving slight preference to Mind the Master.