Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Sun., April 6, 2014)

The Sunday nine-race program begins with a restricted $12,500 nine furlong claimer. Pace handicappers will notice the quick fractions that #2 Trouble X Two has encountered recently and at this distance the early pace should be much more manageable for the recent Chew claim. We like him on top but will also use #6 Crusher, the beaten choice in the same race ‘Two exits but today going for Hess off the claim and switching to Garcia. He has back numbers that can win.

The second race is no picnic; it’s a maiden claiming miler on turf for older fillies and mares. #4 Hey Pretty Girl returns to her claim level after being overmatched in straight maiden company and the daughter of Arch should be much more competitive in this league. We’ll give her a very slight edge over #7 Scene Queen, a class dropping Baltas-trained filly with solid recent speed figures. She switches to Blanc and most likely will be held up early and allowed to run late.

#1 Sea John’s Spirit appears hard to handle in the third race, a state-bred first-level allowance sprint for fillies and mares. A good second vs. similar with a career-top speed figure last month, she has a right to move forward again for Ellis and Talamo should have her in a perfect, second flight, stalking position. We’re expecting her to be along in time, but at 7/5 on the morning line there’s not a lot of value to be had.

The pick-6 begins with the fourth race, a difficult downhill turf sprint for $32,000 claimers. #5 He’s a Dance Star, freshened since mid-February and dropping a notch below his claim level, has looked sharp in the morning lately and seems primed for a big effort. Bejarano stays aboard the veteran gelding who has a particularly liking to this turf course. The quickest of the quick seems to be #10 Big Note, second in a similar affair in February and training well in the interim for the suddenly hot Sierra stable. He’s winless over the course but a strong fit on speed figures and may benefit from the switch to Blanc.

The fifth race, an abbreviated sprint for maiden claiming fillies, should be an ideal spot for a newcomer and #4 My Monet fits the bill. The daughter of Decarchy has shown more than enough speed in the morning to win at this level and looks extremely live under Talamo for a stable that has done well with debut runners in the past. We’ll also give strong consideration to #3 Gisele At Fonz’s, a class dropper in the Miller barn with respectable speed figures and a healthy recent work tab at San Luis Rey Downs.

First level older allowance runners meet over nine furlongs on turf in the sixth race; we’ll go three deep in a highly contentious affair. #5 Snaps looked pretty good beating a lesser field in gate-to-wire style for Mandella earlier this meeting and has continued to hold his form in the morning. He’s tackling tougher today and will be asked to traverse an extra furlong, but if he can establish the lead without pressure he may come right back and win again. #4 Deep Play should draft into a nice pace-stalking position under Baze and should have every chance to pounce when it counts. He was disappointing last time out but seems likely to improve at this shorter journey. #6 Presenceofagenius is lightly-raced and capable of moving forward; he has a dangerous late kick and will be especially tough if the pace comes up faster than par.

Restricted (nw-2) S25,000 claimers sprint seven furlongs in the seventh race; if he’s half-right #2 Red Tesla will beat this field. Away since last May and returning cheap, the Baffert-trained horse certainly has his issues but his recent works indicate he still has his speed and hopefully he has at least one good one left. The son of Decarchy won off a very long layoff over this track last year. For protection you may also want to use on a backup ticket #9 Congregationalist, though his 1-for-20 race record hardly inspires confidence. Bejarano should have him in a good pace prompting position throughout.

The featured Thunder Road Stakes goes as the eighth race, it’s a one mile turf event that drew a rather strong field. #3 Bright Thought was all the rage here last year but was injured and stopped on. He returned in the fall and seemed to lack his old speed but recent works indicate he may be back on the beam for Guitierrez. He can win on the lead or from a stalking position. #2 Dubai You Z Y Z always gives his best and should be more suitable to this mile trip than the 10-furlong task he faced last time. We’ll toss him in. #6 Tom’s Tribute has been facing the best lately and will appreciate this slightly softer assignment. He’s most effective when he’s held up and given some cover.

The finale is a bottom-rung maiden claimer for older fillies and mares; obviously, a little will go a long way. We have no real conviction but will use in our rolling exotics #6 Amina Perfect (winning connections and better than her last indicates; and #5 Perfect Tango (gets a break in the weights and has a few back figures that make her competitive). Big ticket plays should spread, spread, spread.