Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sham Stakes Preview

Last week, our focus was on the East coast and this week we move west to sunny Santa Anita for the next official Kentucky Derby prep: the Sham Stakes. Ran over one mile on the dirt, the Sham was last won by Goldencents, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at the end of the year. 





(1/11/2013) Santa Anita Race 5: G3 Sham Stakes--
Only six horses are entered here and while Midnight Hawk was impressive in his debut, I'm going to side with the Sadler-trained Kristo, who breaks from the rail. Kristo (Distorted Humor-Capote's Crown, by Capote) broke his maiden in his third attempt, after settling for runner-up honors in his first two tries. He went wire-to-wire over one and one sixteenth miles on the main track at Santa Anita and demolished the field, winning by over six and three quarter lengths. It's clear he's going for the lead here, particularly being that he's been drawn in the one-spot and it's worth noting that Midnight Hawk had trouble from the gate in his debut. If Kristo gets an uncontested lead, which I believe is a distinct possibility, he could dominate particularly over this track, which tends to favor speed. The cutback to a mile should suit him and he's reportedly looked good while working on site. Rafael Bejarano retains the mount.

Sham Stakes Picks:
Win: #1 Kristo, Place: #6 Midnight Hawk, Show: #3 Life Is a Joy

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Quick Picks: 

(1/10/2013) Oaklawn Park Race 5: Maiden Special Weight--
The McPeek-trained Penobscot (Mr. Greeley-Life in Seattle, by Unbridled) caught my eye in his debut over one and one eighth miles on the turf at Churchill Downs. He hopped out of the gate and was wide all the way and yet he still closed strongly into a moderate pace and galloped out well past the field. It's all a matter of whether he takes to the turf, but it's worth nothing his dam Life in Seattle's two wins both came on dirt. One should also take into consideration that he was a $410,000 yearling purchase and he will be OFF Lasix here. As far as a longshot is concerned, I think Wizardly is worth a win/place bet if his odds stay in the double digit range. He most recently raced over a mile and a sixteenth on the dirt at Churchill Downs and although a fifth place finish doesn't look to be anything special, he was last place turning for home and was able to close nicely down the stretch. Bro Rodrigeaux, who I've tipped up on this blog in the past, is also worth considering. He finished a strong second to Sheikinator, who went on to run in the CashCall Futurity, two back.

Picks:
Win: #6 Penobscot (ML 9/2), Place: #4 Wizardly (ML 12/1), Show: #5 Bro Rodrigeaux (ML 6/1)


(1/11/2013) Gulfstream Park Race 4: Maiden Special Weight--
This field is loaded with Tapits, including the highly regarded Pletcher firster Constitution, who has by all accounts looked fantastic in his works at Palm Meadows leading up to this race. He's reportedly acted mature while working, which is important to note when looking at Tapit progeny and he's not the big-bodied type, but instead has more of the sleek, athletic build, which is a common factor among Tapit's most successful progeny. My choice in here, however, is Alpha Roadster (Bellamy Road-Alpha Light, by Alphabet Soup), who finished second in his only start, which was over six furlongs at Churchill Downs. He had the lead coming for home in that race, but relinquished it to eventual winner Be Well, who isn't a bad horse in his own right. The opening fraction, which Alpha Roadster was close to, was fairly quick, so a slightly slower pace may be all he needs to get the job done this time. Another to consider here is Juba, who finished third over today's distance, behind Surfing U S A and Scotland, and although he ran well in his first effort, he had every chance to win. He ran greenly coming down the stretch, however, effectively costing himself the race. This will be his first run with Lasix.

Picks:
Win: #7 Alpha Roadster, Place: #6 Constitution, Show: #2 Juba




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