by Jeff Siegel
December 26, 2020
Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.
The selections are posted at 6:00 a.m. and updated later in the morning to reflect late scratches and changes (approximately 10:30 a.m.). For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.
Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.
RACE 1: Post: 11:00 PT Grade: B-
Use: 2-Sassyserb; 8-Rocking Redhead; 10-Hermaphrodite; 11-Shanghai Truffles
Forecast: A true grass grab bag ushers in the new season with several possibilities to consider in this nine furlong first-level allowance affair for fillies and mares over nine furlongs on grass. The R. Baltas-trained Rocking Redhead graduated in good style last month at Del Mar while stretching out for the first time and surely will try similar front-running tactics in an attempt to extend her range another furlong. The daughter of Hard Spun set legit fractions and kept on going to earn a strong number, so with another forward move she may be capable of winning right back at 6-1 on the morning line. Sassyserb is guaranteed a good ground-saving trip from her two-hole post position, has a prior win over the course and may make her presence felt from the top of the lane to the wire. She’s the “other” Baltas in the field but at 8-1 on the morning line deserves good consideration. Hermaphrodite, listed stakes-placed in several outings in France in 2019, made her U. S. debut off a long layoff last month at Del Mar and was a bit underwhelming when winding up a non-threatening fifth despite having a very hot pace that should have complemented her deep-closing style. Assuming she needed the race, the J. Sadler-trained mare can improve today, and with the switch to J. Rosario she should be included in rolling exotic play. Shanghai Truffles can be tossed in somewhere as well, though her extreme outside draw does her no favors. Twice successful over the Santa Anita lawn, she’s a grinding type that will appreciate this stretch out to a mile and one-eighth and has numbers that are solid for this level.
RACE 2: Post: 11:32 PT Grade: B+
Use: 2-Affable; 6-Wipe the Slate
Forecast: Affable displayed considerable promise in his debut last month at Del Mar when finishing an excellent second to Savile Row while earning a speed figure nine points better than par for this level, so the son of Flatter – purchased for $600,000 at the Timonium 2-year-old in training sale last spring – has a chance to graduate today and then go on to bigger and better things. Two nice workouts over the Santa Anita main track should have him primed and ready, and with F. Prat staying aboard the M. Glatt-trained juvenile is the logical morning line favorite at 8/5. Also worth consideration in rolling exotic play is the D. O’Neill-trained Wipe the Slate, a second-timer who had the misfortune of hooking B. Baffert’s latest monster Life Is Good last month at Del Mar and wound up a distant second, though still earning a nice number despite being beaten 10 lengths. The son of Nyquist adds blinkers today and shows a good recent gate work that indicates a forward move is likely.
RACE 3: Post: 12:04 PT Grade: B-
Use: 1-Defense Wins; 2-Hapi Hapi; 4-Alvaaro
Forecast: We’ll go three-deep in this restricted (nw-2) $16,000 main track miler while giving Defense Wins a slight edge on top. The 3-year-old was simply pitched too high when unplaced without mishap in a difficult entry-level allowance turf miler at Del Mar last month but he’s realistically spotted today and should snap back to good form with the class drop and the return to dirt. The son of Flatter sports a steady, healthy series of workouts in recent weeks over the local main track, and from his inside post the D. O’Neill-trained gelding should enjoy a good trip and have every chance. Hapi Hapi has produced rising speed figures and consistent form since being claimed by P. Eurton last summer at Del Mar, and with a prior win over the Santa Anita dirt track the son of Clubhouse Ride must be considered a major player. He’s always been a one-paced grinding type and needs to be as close to the early leaders throughout to be most effective. Alvaaro, a $16,000 R. Hanson claim, was a compromised by a slow start yet still rallied to finish a willing third in the same race Hapi Hapi exits. With a better break today, the son of Old Fashioned should be prominent throughout, and if he can manage to shake loose early to be the controlling speed, all the better.
RACE 4: Post: 12:36 PT Grade: A-
Use: 1-Whisper Not; 5-Some Like Strait
Forecast: Whisper Not showed plenty of promise in his U.S. debut when second to the tough, older veteran Shadow Sphinx in a fast, highly-rated first level allowance race at Del Mar last month, one that charts extremely well in this Grade-3 turf miler restricted to 3-year-olds. Drawn perfectly inside, training sharply at San Luis Rey Downs in the interim, and retaining J. Rosario, the English-bred colt is very likely to produce a significant forward move with that race behind him. Though the son of Poet’s Voice probably has enough early speed to be on the lead if that’s the chosen strategy, he also has the option of settling behind the leaders while saving ground and then kicking home when asked. At 5-1 on the morning line, the R. Baltas-trained colt offers exceptional value both in the win pool and in rolling exotic play. The likely favorite and one to beat is Smooth Like Strait, the Twilight Derby-G2 winner over the local lawn two races back and a narrow runner-up in the Hollywood Derby-G1 in his most recent outing. Fast on numbers and thoroughly genuine and consistent, the Midnight Lute colt must be used on the ticket as well, though our main punch based on price will go to Whisper Not.
RACE 5: Post: 1:06 PT Grade: C
Use: 5-Half Hoping; 8-Watchful Eye; 10-Great Curves; 11-Warren’s Memorable
Forecast: This fifth race is an inscrutable maiden $50,000 claiming sprint for state-bred 2-year-old fillies. Nothing would surprise, so use as many as you can afford to. Warren’s Memorable is comparatively slow on speed figures but at least she managed to finish second here during the fall meeting despite stumbling at the start and did so in such a manner to suggest she’ll enjoy today’s extra half furlong. Great Curves sports the always-dangerous maiden-to-maiden claiming angle and earned a number in her debut two runs back when rallying to be a distant fourth that charts quite well with this modest group. After being used on the pace and fading last time out, patient tactics likely will be employed today. Half Hoping, a first-timer from the M. Puype barn, has displayed a bit of ability in the morning and is a contender by default, while Watchful Eye finished third beaten less than a length at Golden Gate Fields last month while on or near the pace and could improve enough today to be competitive at 8-1 on the morning line.
RACE 6: Post: 1:37 PT Grade: B-
Use: 1-Tripoli; 8-Preaching Trainer; 12-Anaconda
Forecast: We like the route-to-sprint angle that Tripoli brings to this extended turf sprint for first-level allowance older horses and the fact that he’s already won going short over the local lawn makes him the one to beat. His inside draw guarantees a ground-saving trip, so from a stalking position and with room to rally into the lane the J. Sadler-trained son of Kitten’s Joy can justify a strong play at 6-1 on the morning line. However, in a highly contentious affair, a spread strategy in the rolling exotics, at least for big ticket players, must be considered. Although Anaconda will have to overcome an extreme outside draw, the R. Mandella-trained colt seems sure to return to top form after setting the pace and weakening under pressure when fourth in a very fast, highly-rated middle distance race at Del Mar last month. A visually pleasing winner in his debut over the local lawn in early November, the son of Pioneerof the Nile has trained sharply in recent weeks and projects to draft into a second flight stalking position outside and then have his chance from the quarter pole home. Preaching Trainer deserve some consideration as well, at least as saver. The C. Gaines-trained gelding had his momentum stymied when running into a roadblock in a similar event at Del Mar last month and wound up fifth, beaten two lengths, but with some pace to chase and good racing luck today he should be something of a late threat.
RACE 7: Post: 2:09 PT Grade: B
Use: 4-Sharp Samurai; 8-Mucho Gusto
Forecast: Mucho Gusto is making his first start since finishing fourth in Saudi Arabia last spring and this race obviously isn’t the end all as the big money ($20 million) once again in the Saudi Cup down the road. The work tab looks good, especially his most recent bullet drill (6f, 1:12.4h) just six days ago, and the B. Baffert-trained colt has a history of winning off an extended layoff so if even if he’s not 100% cranked up the son of Mucho Macho Man certainly can still win. Sharp Samurai, always considered a turf specialist, looks to have found a home on dirt, having finished second in the Pacific Classic-G1 at Del Mar (behind Maximum Security) and then most recently winding up a highly-respectable third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-G1. The veteran gelding has appeared especially sharp in recent works and looks clearly the best of the others with a legitimate chance to win should ‘Gusto come up a tad short. We’ll have tickets including both in rolling exotic play.
RACE 8: Post: 2:43 PT Grade: B
Use: 4-Secret Keeper; 5-Finite; 8-Motivated Seller
Forecast: This year’s edition of the La Brea S.-G1 came up deep and strong with a number of legitimate contenders to consider. We’ve got it down to three main players, with Motivated Seller offering good value at 8-1 on the morning line. The lightly-raced daughter of Into Mischief won her first two career outings by herself and then lost little when dropping a photo to Merneith in the listed Fort Springs S. at Keeneland on Breeders’ Cup day. Today’s extended sprint distance should be perfect for her stalking style, and with another forward move from a comfortable outside draw the C. Brown-trained filly has a legit chance to pull off an upset. Finite is the logical top pick and one to beat. First or second in nine of 11 career starts, including an authoritative score in the Chilukki S.-G3 at Churchill Downs, the S. Asmussen-trained filly likes to settle, stalk and pounce, and as such owns the perfect style for this seven furlong affair. She’s fast on numbers and knows where the wire is. Secret Keeper can be included as well. She easily handled Merneith when they met at Del Mar last summer and then finished an excellent runner-up to subsequent Zenyatta S.-G2 winner Harvest Moon (five clear of the rest) in the Torrey Pine S.-G3. The daughter of Into Mischief was eliminated at the start and unplaced in the Raven Run S.-G2 at Keeneland in her most recent outing in a race that can be ignored.
RACE 9: Post: 3:17 PT Grade: B+
Use: 1-Red Lark; 8-Duopoly; 9-Sharing
Forecast: With just a cursory glance of the pp’s in this year’s edition of American Oaks-G1 it’s readily apparent that the field consists of several stalkers and deep closers but just one committed front-runner, Duopoly. And given her expected trip as the controlling speed, the daughter of Animal Kingdom will have every chance to wire the field under the assumption that her rapidly improving pattern will continue following her recent gate-to-wire score in the Winter Memories S. at Aqueduct last month. On pure numbers she’s a strong contender and recent works at Palm Meadows in Florida by the C. Brown-trained filly indicates she’s ready to take on this more difficult assignment. F. Prat picks up the mount and knows what needs to be done. Sharing is the likely choice and one to beat. Winner over the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year over the Santa Anita grass course, the daughter of Speightstown seems likely to settle into a stalking position outside and have every chance from the quarter pole home. Whether or not the G. Motion-trained filly truly wants 10 furlongs remains to be seen but given her consistently outstanding resume she’s a “must use” and the one to fear most. Red Lark looks like the most dangerous of the closers, and a faster-than-normal early pace (possible if Going to Vegas is sent from the bell to engage Duopoly) surely would enhance her chances. The winner of the Del Mar Oaks-G2 two runs back and a better-than-looked fourth (beaten less than two lengths) in the QEII-G1 at Keeneland in October, the Irish-bred filly will enjoy a ground-saving trip from the rail and then hopefully will find room to accelerate when the pressure is turned on.
RACE 10: Post: 3:51 PT Grade: X
Use: 3-Nashville; 4-Charlatan; 6-Independence Hall
Forecast: We’ll pass this race for wagering purposes using the three main contenders in our rolling exotics and instead simply enjoy good sport. This year’s edition of the Malibu S.-G1 could produce an Eclipse Award winner in the Sprint category, especially if the 6/5 morning line favorite, unbeaten Nashville, wires the field, just as he’s done in each of his three previous outings. Most recently the son of Speightstown won the listed Perryville S. on Breeders’ Cup Day, running considerably faster at every pole than the BC Sprint-G1 later in the day, and there are those who believe that if he’d been given the chance to run in that race the S. Asmussen-trained colt would have taken control and never looked back. Today he’ll have to negotiate an extra furlong while fighting off stalkers Charlatan and Independence Hall, two colts who also are unbeaten around one turn and extremely fast on speed figures. Charlatan winner of the nine furlong Arkansas Derby-G1 in dominating fashion when last seen in early May, was stopped on due to an ankle injury, but we know he can fire fresh and we know he loves the Santa Anita main track. His works are good, not breathtaking, but trainer B. Baffert has noted that his colt ran better than he worked last winter and spring and expects he’ll do the same in his first race back. As for Independence Hall, he fell short of his Derby dreams when it became apparent that the son of Constitution didn’t want to run long, and his comeback win against a salty group of tough stakes-quality older sprinters last month at Del Mar produced a blueprint on how he can upset the two favorites by capitalizing on a second flight trip from a cozy outside post. Clearly, Independence Hall will be the best price of the three so we’ll put him on top but include all three in our rolling exotics and enjoy one of the most intriguing editions of the traditional opening day feature in many years.
RACE 11: Post: 4:25 PT Grade: B+
Use: 2-Miss Extra; 9-Warren’s Showtime; 10-Annangel
Forecast: The nightcap is the Lady of Shamrock S., a listed affair over a mile on grass for 3-year-old fillies, a consolation event for those who were not quite accomplished enough to be invited to the American Oaks-G1 earlier on the program. It’s an excellent race in its own right and offers a bit of a price chance in Annangel, a very impressive winner in her U.S. debut at Del Mar in late October when leaving her moderate English form behind. In that first-level allowance event the R. Baltas-trained filly broke slowly from the rail, rushed up to establish the pace in hand and then held way gamely while proving uncatchable after coming home in 23 seconds flat. if she’s able to secure a similar trip today from her extreme outside post the daughter of Morpheus may take this field a very long way, so at 8-1 on the morning line she’s worth a gamble. Warren’s Showtime, a winner of four races from five career starts over the Santa Anita turf course, was below her best form when second in sprinting on dirt in the Betty Grable S. at Del Mar but today’s conditions – a mile on grass – is what she prefers so we’re expecting the daughter of Clubhouse Ride to step forward in a big way. She’ll likely settle in mid-pack and then turn it on when it matters. Miss Extra didn’t fire in her U.S. debut, the Del Mar Oaks-G1 in which she finished a non-threatening ninth of 10. but today adds Lasix and tackles easier, so the French-bred filly, a Group stakes winner overseas earlier this year, certainly should be given a second chance. Top grass rider U. Rispoli got to know her last time, stays aboard, and will have covered up and ready to quicken when the time is right.