Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Sept. 27, 2013)

The 2013 Autumn Santa Anita season begins with a challenging nine race program, highlighted by the $100,000 Eddie D. Stakes, an important prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Trainer Bob Baffert has three of the seven entrants in the opener, a mile maiden affair for juvenile fillies. The best of the lot would seem to be #2 Georgia, a promising second in her debut at Del Mar while clearly giving the indication that she’ll want to run long. The daughter of Tiz Wonderful gets her chance today and we’re expecting her to make the most of it as a relatively short priced favorite.

High priced maiden claiming state-bred juveniles occupy the second race; there’s a few faint-hearted speed types in the field that could contribute to a pace meltdown. The best of that group would appear to be #12 Steppingood, second in both of his starts and back in for a tag after clearing but then getting worn down as the favorite at Pomona last time out. We’ll also use a couple of stranger-danger types, #2 Preacher Roe, a shipper from Golden Gate Fields with a series of useful drills over the slower Tapeta surface that should have him plenty fit, and #11 Code of Pleasure, a Hofmans-trained colt with a useful work tab and by the promising young stallion Desert Code.

#8 Truelee Scrappin seems well-placed in the third race, an extended sprint for mid-grade claimers. This is his favorite trip, and the Mitchell-trained veteran ran better than the line will show when fourth against a slightly softer crew at Del Mar last time out. He should be closer to the pace today. #1 Chicsdigtheshark loves Santa Anita (three-for-four lifetime) and could wind up being the controlling speed. #2 Dress Code is an old pro dropping to a dangerous level for Puype and switching to Bejarano.

A fairly strong group of older maidens meet in the fourth over a mile on turf. #1 Navarre impressed in his local debut; the French import finished with purpose when fourth in a hot race over the all-weather at Del Mar and today returns to turf while landing the good rail. Bejarano will have him rolling late. #9 Power Ped has an improving pattern for Mandella and continues to look sharp in the morning. He’ll be prominent throughout. #10 Proven Warrior stretches out for the first time, is very strong in the speed figure department, and has worked like the additional ground will be to his benefit. With War Chant on the bottom, the Sherman-trained gelding has a right to love the grass.

The fifth race is a restricted (nw-2) sprint that probably requires a spread in rolling exotic play. #6 Suances Candy is trying conventional dirt for the first time and will take them as far as he can on the front end. #13 Hurry Home Clover, third off the claim for Spawr, has rising speed figures and should be set for his best. These are the two we’ll prefer, but feel to free to toss in anybody else you like.

#3 Love de Car is a perfect two-for-two and could remain that way in the sixth race, an entry-level allowance sprint down the hill. The Mullins-trained gelding beat state-breds at Del Mar over five furlongs in a fast time, and there’s no reason he can’t carry his speed an extra furlong and a half, especially under “lone f” conditions. There’s value here at anywhere near his morning line of 9/2. The one to fear most is #6 Appealing Tale, second off a layoff for Miller and trying turf for the first time (bred for it). The son of Tale of a Cat has an ideal pace stalking style and several back numbers that will make him hard to beat.

The seventh race is a tough non-winners of two middle distance event and should bring out the best in #1 Tiz the Truth. Given a run in his Del Mar comeback when forced to leave from a far outside post position, the son of Tiznow draws the good rail today and figures to be sent hard to make the lead, just as he was when he graduated so impressively last winter in a highly-rated affair. He’s come back to train very well for Baffert and Stevens stays aboard. The fly in the ointment is stablemate #3 Imperial Fortune, another Baffert trainee who has pretty much the same front-running style. Will both be sent from the gate and engage each other early? Stay tuned. The beneficiary of a hot pace could be #4 Soul Candy, a stretching running gelding whose form at Del Mar was better than looked.

The Eddie D. goes as the featured eighth race and is full of contention. #5 Unbridled’s Note and #8 Chips All In finished noses apart when they met under similar conditions in the Joe Hernandez Stakes last winter; both should be primed for a big effort today. The former ships in from Churchill Downs and can fire fresh; the latter ran decently at Del Mar but seems much better sprinting. #4 Boat Trip could mow them all down if an intense pace materializes; he’s a perfect one-for-one over the course and his Del Mar form was outstanding.

The nightcap is a messy maiden claimer; you probably should use as many as you can afford to. Among those that we’ll include are #7 Carrytheteam, a big class dropper for Sadler who continues to look good in the morning and should find this bunch well within his range, and #13 Scatman Blues, off the rail today and likely to draft into a very comfortable pace prompting position.