Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Mon., Dec. 31, 2012)

The Monday opener looks like an ideal spot for Field Report. Freshened since October, the Benchmark gelding returns for Spawr (excellent with comebackers) while landing a cozy outside post in a moderate starter’s allowance sprint. A repeat of his race before last would be more than good enough to win, and his recent drills indicate fitness. Let’s make him a short priced rolling exotic single.

Cuvee Exchange has worked well enough to be a factor in the second race, a maiden claiming sprint for older fillies and mares, and has win-early breeding for a barn that does well with first timers. She looks like a live item under Baze. Pure Blush seems to be improving with racing and might be a late threat at this extended sprint distance. She switches to Bejarano, shortens up, and drops into a maiden claimer for the first time. A very nice half mile drill over this track last week should have her right on edge. Sister Esperanza, away since March but showing enough in the morning for Headley to expect a big effort in her comeback, drops in for a tag for the first time, lands a good outside post and has numbers that can win. We’ll go three deep in our rolling exotics while slightly preferring Sister Esperanza.

The third race is a starter’s allowance turf event for fillies and mares. Hawkfinch, first off the claim for Powell, continues to look good in the morning and seems sure to improve a bunch in her second start since being imported from Europe. In a below par field for the level, she looks well spotted and lands Bejarano. She simply should out class this field as a straight play and rolling exotic single.

We’ll try to get by in the fourth race, a high priced maiden claiming abbreviated sprint, using just two. Miss Robyn is a dangerous first timer bred for speed and training well enough to be a considered a threat. The barn doesn’t win with many first timers, but this one looks worthy of a close look. Lady Katfish is strictly the one to beat, though she’s been known to burn money in the past. However, she continues to train well and Bejarano stays aboard, so the Dollase-trained filly likely deserves one more chance.

The fifth race is a strong entry level allowance sprint and finds Mechaya returning from Woodbine where she was third at odds-on in a Canadian-bred stakes last month. She’s trained well, so we’re expecting her to bounce back. Garcia will try to slow her down early. Rosewhitenblue crushed maidens in her debut at Calder and was subsequently purchased privately by Hollendorfer. She has looked the part in the morning and very likely will make a major forward move today. Her style suggests this elongated sprint distance will be ideal. Both should be used in rolling exotic play; we’ll give Mechaya a slight edge on top.

Miss Communication has pretty decent grass form to fall back on and returns to the sod in the sixth race after missing at even money in an off-the-turfer across town. The Mitchell-trained filly switches to Leparoux and can beat this field with a repeat of her sharp maiden claiming win two races back. She’s 7/2 on the morning line and that seems about right. In a race that you either take a stand or spread fairly deep, we’ll make her a rolling exotic single.

Include the Baby turned in a two disastrous performances across town since vanning down from Washington but with this sharp drop in class coupled with a good recent drill the Mitchell-trained-trained mare deserves one more chance in the seventh race. She should be on or near the lead throughout. True Expectations is another big class dropper likely to appreciate this much softer spot. Hernandez won on her two races back and if she can duplicate that effort today she’ll be hard to beat. Of the two, we’ll give slight preference to Include the Baby.

Candy Trophy seeks her third straight win for new trainer West in the eighth race and she looks up to the task. She has good tactical speed and Garcia should have her within range throughout. A solid recent drill indicates she’s ready for another forward move. There’s value here in the straight pool at 5-1 on the morning line.

The nightcap appears to be a better than par maiden state bred race for juveniles. Omega Star ran extremely well in his debut earlier this month at Aqueduct, finishing second in a fast, highly-rated affair. He arrives fit and ready for Shirreffs and if he can avoid trouble from the rail he’ll be hard to deny. Storm Fighter has worked well enough to be considered a factor in his debut for Headley. He’s bred to be quick and looks the part. Tribal Dude is another dangerous newcomer with speed breeding and a solid work tab. The O’Neill-trained colt is a “must use” at 6-1 on the morning line.