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Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sat., Nov. 2, 2013)
It doesn’t get much better than this. A sensational 12-race program, including nine Breeders’ Cup events with an $891,813 Pick-5 carryover to begin the program.
The opener is a downhill turf sprint stakes for juveniles and looks fairly wide open. We’ll use three and hope that’s enough. #8 Love in the Desert ran with quality fillies in England – in case you haven’t noticed European juvenile imports do pretty well at Santa Anita – and her tracking style should play quite well over this unique layout. We’ll put her on top, though at 2-1 on the morning line she doesn’t offer all that much value. #2 Richies Party Girl is back sprinting where she belongs and showed a liking for grass at Churchill Downs. She should fire a big shot. #9 Toowindytohaulrox broke her maiden down the hill and looked good doing it.
#1 Flashback launches a comeback for Baffert in the second race and catches a rather soft spot for his return. He’s 2/5 on the morning line which really is more of a reflection of the lack of competition than it is his perceived superiority. Beaten in his last pair as the favorite, he returns in a suitable spot with a series of works that should have him fit and ready. He broke his maiden at this distance and a case could be made that he might eventually prove most effective around one turn. If you’re playing any rolling exotics it would seem that he should be a no-value single. We wish we could find a legitimate threat to upset him but there’s doesn’t seem to be one.
The third race is another downhill turf grab bag; we’ve isolated three main contenders but if you feel the need to go a bit deeper in your rolling exotics feel free to do so. #13 Pontchatrain won the Unzip Me Stakes under similar conditions earlier this year and was quite sharp in doing so; she’s drawn nicely outside and should have a trouble-free trip. We’ll give her a very slight nod over #1 Purim’s Dancer (Stevens rode them both and opts for Pontchatrain). ‘Dancer is stuck on the rail but it’s hard to ignore her local grass record (5 starts, 4 wins). #10 Unusual Hottie, freshened and dangerous, figures to be running on strongly late.
The Saturday Breeders’ Cup program begins with the Juvenile Fillies in the fourth race. #1 Artemis Agrotera has won both of her starts in highly impressive fashion with legitimately strong figures; she draws the rail today and could be the controlling speed. She’s looked quite good since arriving in California, so we’re expecting a major effort. #7 Untapable also is two-for-two, though not quite as fast on speed figures. Still, she has to be respected. #8 Scandalous Act ran out of competition in Florida, winning her last three by daylight. She’s not quite up to the other two on numbers, but who’s to say what her ceiling is? We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics.
#1 Dank was sensational winning the Beverly D. Stakes, displaying a turn of foot not often seen. She hasn’t raced since, but trainer Sir Michael Stoute will have her spot on in the fifth race, the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. She wins if she runs equally as well today. #2 Romantica is a Group-1 winning daughter of Galileo from Banks Hill, who won this race in 2001. Her form is outstanding – especially on firm ground – and Andre Fabre wouldn’t have sent her over without believing she’s good enough to win. #7 Laughing is living high these days and could inherit the role as the controlling speed. Given that kind of trip, she may be very hard to get by in the final furlong.
In the sixth race, #11 Groupie Doll was a sensational winner of the Filly & Mare Sprint last year, but it would appear that she’s not quite the same in 2013. Still, you have to respect her, and in a wide open affair, maybe she can rise to the occasion while returning to conventional dirt. We like her on top but she’s far from a single. #4 Dance Card had a nice prep off the bench in the Gallant Bloom and seems sure to move forward with that effort under her belt. #8 Dance to Bristol has excellent tactical speed and should draft into an ideal pace prompting spot in a race that really doesn’t have all that much early heat.
If you feel the need to buy seventh race, the Turf Sprint, by all means do so. It is a grass grab bag of the highest order. Mizdirection can fire huge off the bench and has been training like she’s fit and ready. She won this race under similar circumstance last year, but as a late-runner she’s going to need a bit luck (as they all will). Reneesgotzip is the speed of the speed and will take them as far as she can. She was an excellent third in this affair last year. Unbridled’s Note should inherit a good trip outside and is another who ran extremely well in this race in 2012. This group is very difficult to separate and the one with the best racing luck is liable to win it.
#6 Tap It Rich has an enormous amount of natural talent. He did everything wrong in his debut yet still came away to register a sensational win with a powerful number. If makes the same mistakes in the eighth race, the Juvenile, – breakings slowly, drifting out, racing greenly – he probably will get beat but if he learned anything at all, he may be blow this group away. #3 Mexikhoma is for price players – his maiden win at Delaware was visually awesome – and on his figures he’s right there with these. #13 Havana is drawn poorly outside but he’s plenty quick and will take them a very long way, especially if he can get away with reasonable early splits.
In the ninth race, #7 The Fugue was unlucky to lose the BC Filly & Mare Turf last year; traffic certainly cost her but she left a very favorable impression. She’s back again this year while tackling the males and trying 12 furlongs. She can do both with ease. We certainly prefer the Gosden-trained filly on top, but #10 Big Blue Kitten is a genuine stayer and just missed winning his third straight Grade 1 event recently, while #11 Magician can rise to the occasion when he’s in the mood and has been pointed to this race for some time. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics and then have some extra tickets singling The Fugue in our rolling exotics.
The Sprint goes as the 10th race. #9 Secret Circle is undefeated sprinting – he’s a perfect four-for-four – and returned off a layoff in peak form to win a very fast overnight allowance sprint last month. He’s very strong on numbers and has an ideal stalking style and a good outside post. Garcia should have him within striking range, just off the hot leaders, and in a race in which the closing types don’t look all that dangerous (and over a track that’s doesn’t play well to that style, anyway), this son of Eddington should have every chance to continue his winning ways. We like him as rolling exotic single and there’s plenty of value here at anywhere near his morning line odds of 4-1.
#8 Wise Dan had his winning streak snapped at Keeneland when the rains came and forced the Shadwell Turf Mie off the turf and onto the all-weather surface. The reigning horse of the year had to settle for second, but deserves a chance to regain his winning form in the Mile, which goes as the 11th race. His win in his race before last at Woodbine was spectacular. #1 No Jet Lag seems like a logical exacta partner with ‘Dan. He’s undefeated since coming stateside and his most recent work was borderline amazing. He’ll be running on strongly late and, who knows, if his rapid improvement continues he might be able to make a run for it all late.
The Classic brings the curtain down as the nightcap. #9 Game On Dude was beaten in this same race last year but he gets a chance for a do-over and we’re expecting him to make the most of it. Perfectly drawn outside and training better than he ever has in his life, the Baffert-trained gelding should have no excuses while seeking to end 2013 on a perfect note and wrap horse of the year honors. His stablemate, #2 Paynter, also is training like his old self and we’re expecting him to run his best race as well. He figures to draft into a comfortable, ground-saving, second flight position. #5 Declaration of War is a top class European invader trying conventional dirt for the first time. He’s bred for it top and bottom and his trainer Aidan O’Brien is hopeful he’ll handle the kick-back. If he does, he could make some noise at a nice price.