Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Feb. 23, 2013)

An excellent Saturday program begins with a rather modest maiden claimer. Night Teller already has had nine chances and isn’t fast on numbers, but the Machowsky-trained filly looks the best of this bottom rung maiden claiming field by default. She’ll never get an easier chance, but she’s hardly one to trust. We’ll put her on top while expecting her to produce the last run at this extended sprint trip but a simple pass might be the better way to go.

Stanwyck was visually very impressive winning her turf debut earlier this month and she appears well spotted in the second race to repeat on the raise. Gomez should have her along in time. We’ll also use on a ticket or two Chokecherrymary, a two-time winner over this turf course and exiting a tougher race.

The third race is a weak maiden claiming mile affair for sophomore fillies; we’ll try to get by using just two but you might be more comfortable spreading the race. Warren’s Lorie S., in the money in her last three with improving speed figures, makes a monumental jockey switch to Bejarano and should be tough to beat. She has enough speed to be on or near the lead throughout. Norma Reese is drawn poorly outside and she’s very average in the speed figure department but she’s stretching out for the first time and seems to have the style to handle the extra ground.

The fourth race looks like a chalky sprint and pretty much boils down to the two favorites. Splendid Fortune missed as the choice over a wet fast track last month but has trained in superb fashion since and figures to bounce back in a big way over a fast strip. Talamo should have her on the front end without too much pressure. Egg Drop does her best running from off the pace and may take the worst of it from a race-shape standpoint, but she has plenty of room to improve and should appreciate the today’s extra half furlong. We’ll prefer Splendid Fortune on top but use both in our rolling exotics.

In the fifth race, Unbridled’s Note is tough on any surface but might be at his best on grass. Both of his efforts down the Hillside course were outstanding and he’s trained like he’s sharp as a tack for his first start since finishing an excellent third in the opening day Malibu Stakes. Nakatani fits him perfectly. There’s no value at his morning line odds of 6/5, so we’ll simply make him a rolling exotic single.

The sixth race, a restricted moderate claimer, is comprised of several runners that appear to lack a winning punch. We’ll go three deep and hope that’s sufficient. Sun’s Out gets top billing; the Gaines-trained gelding drops to his lowest level ever while retaining Gomez and appears capable of producing the last run. Flower Power returns from the Bay Area and lands Bejarano; the lightly-raced gelding probably has room for plenty of improvement and his numbers are going in the right direction. Rock Off plummets in class for Yakteen and looks capable of at least getting a piece of it with one of his better efforts.

Grumpy Small Mouth, first or second in eight of 12 career starts, seems primed for another huge effort in the seventh race and if he can secure a good trip from the rail he’ll be hard to beat. Freshened since November but training like he’s fit and ready, the Moger-trained gelding is back with Gomez, who has won with him in the past. In a race without a whole lot of early zip, he should draft into an ideal pace prompting position. We’ll make him a straight play and rolling exotic single.

The featured eighth race is a very competitive edition of the San Carlos Stakes and to be safe you may want to spread fairly deep. Justin Phillip didn’t appear to have an excuse when third as the choice in the Palos Verdes Stakes in his local bow last month but he’s trained well since and should move forward at this seven furlong trip. Bejarano, however, jumps off to ride our top pick, Midnight Transfer, who returned as well as he left with an impressive allowance win earlier this meeting. A repeat of that effort, even against this tougher band, should be good enough to win. The Lumber Guy flopped as the favorite in the Malibu Stakes but switches to Gomez and probably deserves one more chance.

In the finale, Blue Cherokee has trained like he’s got plenty of ability and in a below par field of maidens the Kafwain colt might be well spotted to win at first asking. The O’Neill-trained soph should be plenty fit and there’s no reason he won handle the turf. His uncoupled O’Neill stablemate Wind of Bosphorus appears to be the best of the known element, though he’s certainly not a world beater. He did run well in his only prior grass start, so with the witch to Baze he could be on or near the lead throughout. We’ll put Blue Cherokee slightly on top while using both in our rolling exotics.