Horse owner, breeder and HRTV analyst Jeff Siegel also happens to be Southern California's premier handicapper. Check his blog each day before you play!
Handicapping, in short, refers to analyzing the race to come up with best predicted outcome, or pick. There are many angles when it comes to picking a winner. Using some of the help from the professional handicappers below, you can determine your own angle on placing a bet. For more information on how to bet or wager, click here.
1st Race - #2 UNCLE SAM
This juvenile son of Tapit (from a mare by Pleasant Colony) is bred to run long on the lawn and gets his chance right off the bat in what appears to be a slightly below par race for the level. A series of sharp and impressive workouts should have him ready to pop at first asking and at 7/2 on the morning line the Baffert-trained maiden seems to offer pretty good value. The known element doesn’t really inspire, although the Churchill Downs invader, #8 Fusa Code, has some ability and with two mile races already under his belt he has the benefit of condition and some experience. He’s worth using in the exotics, but Uncle Sam is strictly the one to beat.
3rd Race - #1 BIG REVOLUTION
This Peter Miller-trained gelding drops into a restricted $12,500 claimer and seems well placed to regain his winning ways. His numbers are improving; he’s exiting a much stronger starter’s allowance affair and should be comfortably placed in the first flight in a race without a whole lot of early zip. Bug boy Gonzalez has worked him in the morning, so he knows him. #4 Three Pointer appears the one to fear most; he’s re-equipped with blinkers and is taking a realistic class drop after a bit of a disappointing run across town. The Glatt-trained gelding is another who’ll likely enjoy a soft pace scenario and is worth using as an exacta partner with our top pick.
Knocked down to 3/5 in his debut last month in a race that trainer Bob Baffert publically confided he thought he’d win, this $250,000 Barretts 2-year-old in training buy wound up fourth, beaten more than three lengths, but he’s much better than that and will get a chance to prove it in this competitive straight maiden dash for juveniles. In heavy traffic down the backside while full of run, the son of War Front didn’t really extract himself until the upper stretch but by that time the cause was lost. A bullet :58 2/5 workout since that race indicates he still has all of his speed, and today we should see his best stuff. The two that you should use with him in an exacta/trifecta box are #7 Hope and Believe and #10 Houston Harbor. The former, out of the very good producing mare Hope Rises, has looked like a very good prospect for Ellis and seems cranked up and ready to roll. The latter, a solid second in his only outing in Kentucky last month and from a barn (Asmussen) that excels with second time starters, may be the quickest in the field and could be very dangerous if he can shake loose early.
5th Race - #9 ARRESTING OFFER
Crushed his maiden rivals in his October debut by almost six lengths and the margin would have been double digits had he left with his field. The Mitchell-trained colt overcame the poor start to flash excellent speed to battle for the lead after the opening quarter and then came away with asked like a colt with some quality. He’s very comfortably drawn outside in this extended sprint affair and catches a field without a whole lot of zip. If he breaks cleanly today, he should dominate right back and while he’ll likely go considerably lower than his 9/5 morning line odds, his main value will be as a rolling exotic single.
The season concludes with a challenging 10-race program that culminates with the San Juan Capistrano being carded as the final race on the program (let’s start a new tradition!). But before diving in, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, the readers, for your many kind words throughout the season. We didn’t pick every winner – didn’t even come close – but, hopefully, we provided enough insight to make the exercise worthwhile. We'll be back - if management asks us back - for the Oak Tree meeting this coming fall.
Good card today – lots of potential value – but we’ll pass the opener in a race that is hard to get handle on. #2 Warring Heart and #6 Smokey Beau look like stick outs on paper, but they’re not trustworthy and they’re the two favorites on the morning line, anyway. Let’s pass.
Today’s early daily double doesn’t look terribly enticing, so for the sake of action we’ll begin conservatively using #7 Lacey Leilah in the opener and #5 Lyrical Goddess in the second race. Lacey Leilah stretches out for the first time, switches to Rosario, has worked very well of late and looks semi appealing at 3-1 on the morning line. The projected pace of the race should be very soft and if she breaks cleanly she might end up being the controlling speed. As for Lyrical Goddess, she’s a fresh face in a bottom rung maiden claimer and the works indicate she has some ability.
Thursday’s program begins with a low level claiming extended sprint that should be dominated by the two morning line favorites, #1 Stella Mark (5/2) and #5 Swiss Ski (2-1). The former is taking a huge class drop after a series of dull efforts but may have found his friends today and is a solid fit on speed figures. The latter looked very sharp beating a slightly softer field from off the pace, retains Bejarano, and will be hard to handle if he can turn in two alike.