Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Feb. 15, 2013)

A nice $55,959 Pick-6 carryover adds interest to a challenging eight-race Friday program.

Stars and Moons has had seven chances to graduate but he’s exiting a very hot race that produced by far his best speed figure ever. In today’s opener, the Ellis-trained gelding retains Talamo and looks quite capable of producing the last run. We’ll also include in our rolling exotic play Indian Gods, stretching out for the first time with competitive numbers for Baffert. He’s also trying maiden claimers for the first time so the son Indian Charlie likely will be the wagering choice. That’s said, we’ll still prefer Starts and Moons on top.

Talk the Walk, in the money in his last pair at this level, has rising speed figures and with another forward move in today’s second race should be hard to deny. Talamo should have him on or near the lead throughout in this abbreviated sprint for high priced maiden claimers. Gallant Charm, freshened since November and now in the Baltas stable, surfaces for a tag for the first time and seems sure to improve at this level. Great Friends Rule is a fit on numbers and has some early zip; we’re expecting him to be a strong pace factor even though he’s moving up in class. A slight edge goes to Talk the Walk but all three should be included in your rolling exotics.

Smokey Lonesome, freshened since mid-November, returns in the third race for Ellis (superior with layoff runners) and seems properly spotted and well-meant. The veteran gelding likes to settle and make a run and has had success over this downhill turf course in the past. A Toast to You, nosed out in a similar event last month, has trained nicely since that race and should run at least as well today. Maldonado stays aboard for Miller. Relentless Heat rallied with the help of the race-shape to beat a lesser field here last month. His number was good, so the Eurton-trained gelding could be a factor right back with continued improvement. Let’s put A Toast to You slightly on top while using all three in our rolling exotics.

The fourth race, a bottom-rung extended maiden claiming sprint, has little depth so you can employ one of two strategies: find a single and pray or buy the race. We’ll go the cheaper route and put our eggs –reluctantly so – in the basket of Deception Free. The Eurton-trained gelding was a beaten choice last time out but should enjoy a much more comfortable pace scenario today and we’re hoping he’ll be able to take full advantage in his role as the controlling speed. Krigger will try to nurse him along. At 5/2 on the morning line, he’s a rolling exotic single almost by default.

Eyes On the Prize, second in her last pair, should be prominent throughout in the fifth race and figures to stick better at this one mile trip. The veteran mare retains Baze, lands a good inside post, and should have every chance. Van Brit didn’t get the best of runs when a close fourth in a tougher starter’s allowance affair; she drops for the money run and is reunited with Blanc, who has won with her in the past. With clear sailing today she should be along in time. Gem of Soul has won over this course in the past, takes a drop in class, and retains Bejarano. She’ll be doing her best work late. Preference goes to Van Brit but we’ll use all three in our rolling exotics.

In the sixth race, Blushing Angel broke her maiden in late December in game fashion and earned a strong rating in the process. She’s been working well in the interim for Sadler and if she can avoid trouble from the rail the Macho Uno filly will be hard to beat right back. Spooky Lady, first off the claim for West, disposed of a $50,000 claiming field in convincing fashion last month and might be this good. She’s clearly the most dangerous of the closing types. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; we’ll have a few extra tickets with Blushing Angel on top.

Spring Bloom beat a state bred filed in rather sharp style last month and the Shirreffs-trained filly should be double tough right back in today’s featured seventh race despite facing open company. This 10-furlong trip should be well within her range. At 5/2 on the morning line we like her very much as a straight play and rolling exotic single.

In the finale, Valley of Kings will race with blinkers for the first time in his career and the equipment change could produce dividends. The Hess-trained colt also gains Bejarano and should be on or near the lead throughout. However, our top pick is Super Ability. The comebacking gelding in the Gaines barn has been away for a year and one-half but his recent drills have been impressive and he showed much speed in his only prior outing vs. straight maidens during the summer of ’11 at Hollywood Park. We’re expecting Garcia to have him or near the lead throughout. Valdirone is worth tossing in as well. In the money in all three starts, the Koriner-trained gelding is drawn comfortably outside and should have every chance to pounce and produce from slightly off the pace. Talamo stays aboard.