Friday, March 5, 2010

Sham Stakes

Sham Stakes

Saturday February 27, 2010 - Race 8
Estimated Local Post Time: 4:07 PM
Name: Sham S. Grade: 3
Purse: $150,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

The Program
Outlaw Man
El Mirage King
Boulder Creek
Kettle River
Wolf Tail
Alphie’s Bet

Last week the Sham Stakes were rained out - so they're going to give it another try this Saturday and if the rain pours again - try it again on Sunday. Some of the horses have changed - but overall I believe the story of this race remains the same.

What makes the Sham an intriguing stakes races is that many of these horses weren’t on a career path of attempting a Kentucky Derby run, most of these horses have the bulk of their races on Turf and I believe the only reason many of these horses are in this race – is that their owners figure…..why not?

Nobody in this race is a hot prospect for the big dance in May, no one entered a Super horse….there’s only one horse who has a Stakes win and he’s going off at 20/1– so this race could mean an owner just picking up a sizeable purse and calling it a day, or this race could also mean the first step for bigger races for the winner.

Marcello (new entry) - similiar to many of these other horses Marcello has had some moderate success on Turf and is looking to give the Synthetic track another try. His last outing wasn't very successful as he finished 5th in the Cash Call Futurity last December, a race that saw The Program finish just ahead of him in 4th. Marcello has a favorable post position for this race as he will have no problem riding the rail among the middle of the pack for the bulk of this race. At the final turn if an alley opens up along the rail - Marcello could easily be in the best position to turn on the after burners and steal the Stakes - however if there's no alley along the rail - he could be shut out - at 15/1 odds he's definitely worth a look.

The Program will enjoy a very favorable post position for his style of racing. The Program will look to grab a very early lead and set the pace. This colt is fresh off a 1 1/16 mile victory here at Santa Anita at the beginning of this month. Martin Garcia returns as his jockey, however he’s one of two horses carrying 118 lbs. instead of 116. I think this horse has everything going for him in this race - the only question is how will he handle the distance?

Kettle River recently defeated The Program at Santa Anita, in a 1 1/16th race in early January. Kettle River (which simultaneously makes me hungry for Kettle Popcorn and the desire to sing Old Man River) has won two out of his last three races. His only loss came in a very muddy 6 furlong slop fest that I don’t believe they tried their hardest in. His jockey Brice Blanc returns for his 3rd straight race and Kettle will also carry 118 lbs.

Outlaw Man – his last three races were on turf and he finished those races 1st / 3rd and 2nd. I believe he’ll like the distance of the Sham Stakes – but the transition from running on the grass to running on a synthetic track is difficult to predict – however three straight races he’s been in the money and the odds maker has him at 10/1 ?

Setsuko – is currently going off at 3/1 – he has only 1 victory in his past 6 races however in those 6 races he finished no lower than 4th. The Program defeated Setsuko in a 1 mile race back in October, and yet the odds makers prefer Setsuko in this race – this is usually the time when I write that somebody must know something I don’t – but wait it gets a little stranger….

Wolf Tail – has been the model of consistency as he has finished in the top three 5 races out of 8 – pretty good if you ask me. From what I’m reading he’s the only stakes winner in this race….and of course he’s going off at 20/1……HUH?

El Mirage King is fresh off a victory here at Santa Anita, however he doesn’t have a race over 1 mile on his resume. It’s possible that they’ll stretch him out in this race and be rewarded for it – but even in this race a victory would be a surprise.

Boulder Creek looks to be a horse on the rise here at Santa Anita. He finished first here in a 1 1/16 mile trek in early February and seems to be improving with time and distance. He's finished no worse than 4th in his last 4 races and with his 12/1 odds I'd look to include him in a trifecta bet, because frankly his competition isn't that impressive.

Alphie’s Bet is also fresh off a 1 mile turf victory here at Santa Anita – and very similar to Outlaw Man you have to wonder what the results will be as he transfers from the lush grass to the fake dirt? The day after last Christmas he finished 2nd in a 1 1/16 mile race here at Santa Anita, so you have to figure Alphie’s Bet could challenge as well (he’s going off at 8/1).

And finally we come to the favorite in this race Nextdoorneighbor who returns from his Jan. 24th victory at this track and at this distance. That is his only victory in his last three races and I have no idea why this horse has been chosen as the favorite. He hasn’t defeated anyone of consequence, his post position in this race isn’t great, and personally I think there are more proven horses racing this Saturday.

Since the post positions have shaken (but not stirred) things up a little - I'm forced to rethink my selections - I'm still taking The Program to win, Setsuko to place and Kettle River just edging out Boulder Creek for third.

Of course should the favorite “put me in my place” again – I’ll certainly be having a hard day’s night…..and thinking I should have known better – back me up Beatles.

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