Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thu., Feb. 6, 2014)

Sometimes you love a card, sometimes you don’t. This is one of those “don’t” days for me, so we’ll pick our spots and try to grind out a profit with a conservative strategy.

#2 Mr. Cactus seems fairly logical in the opener – he retains Bejarano, has back numbers that can win and should be able to wear down the speed – but his short odds likely will reflect his lack of competition more than anything that he’s accomplished. There’s little to work with here.

The second race, a downhill turf sprint for older maiden fillies and mares, has two contenders. #4 Provenance is unproven on turf but if she can duplicate her last race over this course she’ll be right there. The Jones-trained daughter of Brother Derek gets a break in the weights and continues to look solid in the morning. We’re very much intrigued by #2 Wasted At Midnight. She makes her first start since joining the Mandella barn and has that powerful blinkers-off angle working for her; plus, she has back numbers that are better than par for this level. Freshened and training well, the daughter of Midnight Lute seems sure to produce a major forward move today and is strictly the one to beat.

The Pick-6 begins with the third race and though the fields aren’t large it’s a tough sequence. #1 Metaxa, first off the claim for Mulhall, was sharp beating a bottom-rung group in late December and returns on the raise while shortening to what might be her favorite distance. If she can avoid trouble from the rail, the veteran mare will a major player. #4 Warren’s Judy retains Bejarano and on her best day can be dangerous from off the pace. Speed hasn’t been sticking so well in main track sprints this meeting so if a pace meltdown occurs her chances will increase.

#6 Cougarsontheprowl probably offers little value at 6/5 on the morning line in the fourth race, but she does seem like a likely winner based on her very impressive debut maiden score last month. She overcame a sluggish start and a wide trip to win with plenty in reserve and earned a good figure in the process. The daughter of Unbridled’s Song has trained well since, lands the cozy outside post, and should outclass this first-level allowance group as a rolling exotic single.

The fifth race, a maiden claiming miler for sophomore fillies, is a complete mess; our best suggestion is to simply buy the race. For those wanting the action, we’ll give very slight preference to #6 Cheeky Stone. The Hofmans-trained filly had a decent gate work with blinkers on Jan. 16 and two additional solid drills since then, so she might be a bit better than shown. Somebody has to win, might as well be her.

The sixth race is a grass grab bag that also appears completely wide open; best advice is to use as many as you can afford to. #4 Elegant in Silk is winless in eighth career grass starts but her numbers aren’t bad and she’s coming off a confidence building maiden claiming score. We’ll use her along with #6 Incredible Journey, a first-time-in-a-claimer and second-off-a-layoff play for Hofmans. She has numbers last year that make her a solid fit and she does pack a pretty good late kick on occasion. We’ll try to survive using only these two.

The featured seventh race is a first-level allowance sprint for fillies and mares; the comebacking #6 Mark of a Gem gets top billing in her first start since last May. She’s trained like she’s fit and ready for a barn that does well with layoff runners and the pace scenario looks favorable for the daughter of Benchmark. We’re expecting Smith to have her on or near the lead throughout.

The nightcap is a wide-open maiden turf sprint; we’ve got the main contention down to three. #1 Los Borrachos exits a pair of extremely hot sprints, yet his numbers are improving and he continues to impress in the morning. Smith stays aboard for Mandella and the son of Pulpit has every right to move forward again with the switch to turf. We like him on top but we’ll spread a bit for protection. #7 J Kat didn’t get the best of runs in his debut up north and seems very likely to improve; we’re anticipating he’ll show more early speed today. #9 Kozani, a route-to-sprint play, exits a strong heat, retains Nakatani, and should enjoy an ideal pace-prompting trip outside.