Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Fri., Jan. 3, 2014)

The Friday program begins with a short-priced standout, #2 Artemis. The Empire Maker filly has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern plus rising speed figures and a pedigree that suggests she’ll be a whole lot more effective over a route of ground. On paper she looks odds-on.

The second has been reduced to four starters with the scratching of both Baffert entrants, #1 Roman Threat and #5 Rolling Fog, rendering this race pretty much unplayable. Rolling exotic players will consider #3 Let’s Get Crackin as a logical single; the veteran gelding has never been sharper, having earned a career top speed figure when an excellent second in a hot race in October and training in smart style since.

The Pick-6 begins with the third race and we’ll go two-deep. #6 Maybe Tuesday returns to turf and his winning level while being reunited with Smith, who won on him two runs back. The Mullins-trained gelding likes this course and should be able to produce the last run. For protection we’ll also toss in #3 Stoney Fleece, claimed back by Sadler and capable of acting at this level with his best effort.

The fourth race is a fairly contentious maiden claiming miler for older fillies and mares and requires something of a spread. #6 Just Dancing closed a gap in her comeback in late November in a decent sprint try and today stretches out to a distance that should be much more to her liking. With only two starts behind her, the Giacomo mare has a bit more upside than anything in this field, so we’ll put her on top. #1 Lake Maracaibo was pulled up and vanned off up north but she’s obviously okay and rates consideration while dropping into a claimer for the first time. She’s a strong fit on back numbers. #2 Sugar High Kaylin, in the money in both of her sprint starts, is a daughter of Candy Ride and therefore has every right to make a forward move while stretching out for the first time.

The three main contenders in the fifth race look pretty much the same on paper and are very hard to separate. We’ll use all three. #1 Copper Bay has won over the course, should draft into a cozy ground-saving, pace-stalking position and won’t have to improve much at all to beat this field. #3 Londinium draws a better post today and finished a half-length behind ‘Bay when they met in a similar affair in November. #5 Ransom Canyon is 1-for-16 and seems to lack a winning punch but always is a threat from off the pace. You can go even deeper if you feel the need.

The sixth race, a claiming sprint for 3-year-olds, is another tough affair. #4 Papa Smitty looked pretty good from a visual standpoint breaking his maiden last month at Hollywood Park but didn’t earn much of a figure. He seems like a progressive sort, though, so we’ll put him slightly on top over his Peter Miller-trained (and uncoupled) stable mate #2 Tosheen, a winner of three of his last four but dropping off his most recent score. That’s not necessarily a healthy sign, but in this case Miller is simply running him where he thinks he belongs. #6 Happy Idea is a dangerous Bay Area invader moving up two levels in class following a Belvoir claim (30% with a flat-bet profit). The Private Gold gelding is a bit slow in the speed figure department but has every right to improve with experience for his new connections.

The featured seventh race is a downhill slalom for older fillies and mares and as usual #9 Blues and Silvers (16 starts, 10 wins) is the one to beat. The thoroughly genuine and consistent daughter of Eurosilver lands the cozy outside post and should fold into an ideal pace stalking position under Stevens, who has won on her in the past. #6 Miss Lucky Sevens, second as the favorite when beaten a half-length by ‘Silvers at Hollywood Park in November, is worth using in the exotics as well.

The nightcap offers what figures to be a short priced favorite, #5 Fulmerized. Beaten at 50 cents on the dollar against $40,000 foes last month, the O’Neill-trained colt drops to the bottom today and shouldn’t miss, though he’s clearly not one to trust. We’ll protect in the exotics while also including #10 Sams Blue Cat, a class dropper in Pender’s barn with a decent try over this track in October and making a critical rider switch to Bejarano.