Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sun., Jan. 6, 2013)

The second week concludes with a good Sunday card and an excellent feature race marking the return of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection.

Fire With Fire has been facing tougher of late but drops into a realistic spot in the opener and seems capable of returning to winning form. His recent speed figures are strong and a repeat of his race before last probably is good enough to beat this field. His morning line odds of 4-1 seem to be about right.

Solar Rocket, away a couple of months and returning to the claiming ranks, loves this main track and seems set to rebound with a good try. The rail is no bargain but the Glatt-trained gelding should be a strong pace factor. Cayambe crushed a softer field at Hollywood Park in his first start off a claim and is being double jumped in class by Spawr following that win in a sign of confidence. The old pro loves to win and should draft into a nice pace prompting spot. Batti Man has recent figures that can win this race and the drop in class is warranted. The Puype-trained gelding switches to Baze and is long overdue for a win. We’ll use all three in rolling exotic play with slight preference to Cayambe.

Red Rachel ran well in an Arizona bred stakes in her debut and is realistically spotted by Owens in the third race. With little to beat she seems pretty solid. We’ll also use Senorita Cautelosa, another second time starter with plenty of room to improve. Fourth with trouble against a tad stronger field last month, she has trained decently since and switches to Maldonado.

The fourth race is a wide open state bred turf maiden affair and requires a spread. We’ll use four and hope that’s enough. Empty Headed stretches out for the first time and has trained like he’s ready for a major forward move for Abrams. Public Interest is a first timer with a nice series of drills and it seems significant that Shirreffs protects him in straight maiden company. Waitwaitdontellme was an okay third in an off-the-turfer in his debut and today gets his chance on the sod. He trains like a colt with some ability. Magnum Force is stuck way outside but he has finished in the money in his last pair and likely can move forward with the return to turf.

The fifth race is another tough affair; use as many as you can afford to. Almost a Lady rates top billing; the Becerra-trained filly drops for the money run and could be too quick for this group. Taking Form beat a restricted $12,500 group last month at Hollywood Park and earned a figure that makes her competitive in a field for 4-year-olds only. Melanistic is a perfect one-for-one over this track and loves to win races. The Bay Area invader is worth including at 8-1 on the morning line.

Smokey Lonesome seems the solid choice in the sixth race. The Ellis-trained gelding drops a notch after a brief vacation and retains Talamo while returning to a turf course he usually runs well over. Rock This Way wants the front end and might get brave if not pressured early. A repeat of his race before last makes him dangerous.

In the seventh race, Luckaruck was nosed out in a similar affair last month across town and can be just as effective over this conventional dirt surface. Maldonado knows him well and should have this West-trained gelding rolling in the final furlong. We’ll give him the edge but also use Smoking G, a lightly-rated sprinter with rising numbers who is trying dirt for the first time, and Obsess, a real pro who usually gets at least a piece of it.

The pace scenario in the Monrovia strongly favors the upstart Kindle, who ran lights out at Hollywood Park now that she’s apparently learned to slow down early and blast home late. Whether she has the class to upset the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection makes this a very interesting affair. We’ll double the race but won’t be the least bit surprised if the Gary Mandella-trained mare can pull it off.

The finale is a bottom rung maiden claimer and it’s a disaster, as not one of the entrants finished in the money last time out. Tiz Lovely is a nine race maiden but her recent form isn’t bad and actually makes her a strong contender, 10 lb. bug boy and all. Vonn Nez returns to the maiden claiming ranks; this is the type of race a 22-race maiden can win. California Roll rejoins the Glatt barn and probably has the most room to improve.