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Pete’s Picks: Samraat in The Withers, Cousin Stephen in The Sam F. Davis

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 1/31/2014 10:22:41 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Uncle Sigh, Classic Giacnroll, Samraat, Harpoon, Noble Cornerstone, Cousin Stephen

What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Withers, The Sam F. Davis

Where: Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs

When: Saturday, February 1st

Will The Withers at Aqueduct and The Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs this Saturday reveal a few more serious players on the Kentucky Derby trail? That’s a real possibility as several in each race have shown plenty of promise. Let’s take a closer look at the major contenders in these races below.

In The Withers, #5-Samraat (7-5) may get tested for the first time in his undefeated career. He’s 3-for-3, all against NY-breds, and has won on the front end each time as the distances have gotten progressively longer and the competition increasingly tougher. He shares the field’s top Beyer Speed Figure (95) with fellow NY-bred #1-Uncle Sigh (9-5), who broke his maiden last out on the stretch-out to a mile and seventy yards. If a pace duel develops between those two, it could benefit #4-Classic Giacnroll (5-1), runner-up last out in The Grade 2 Jerome. The Lisa Guerrero trainee will be launching his bid from mid-pack. Interestingly, Samraat was shipped to Palm Meadows in Florida after his Damon Runyon score, but will be returning for The Withers. Reports are that he’s not a need-the-lead type, and his post places him outside the other speed. That should help his cause greatly, and a pair of mile works down south should have him plenty fit for Saturday’s engagement. I’ll bet on #5-Samraat to keep his perfect record intact, provided he goes off at even money or better.

In The Sam F. Davis, three will likely vie for favoritism. #1-Harpoon (4-1), who just broke his maiden going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park after a trio of second-place finishes, will receive strong support because of his high-profile connections (Pletcher), breeding and lofty yearling purchase price of $500,000. Still, this will be his first race vs. winners and first two-turn try, so there are questions. He’s been less than even money in his last three trips postward, so demand value. #2-Noble Cornerstone (7-2) owns the field’s top two Beyers (91, 89), and finished a game second last out in a $250K stakes at Remington Park. The shades come off, but Kent Desormeaux remains aboard this Wesley Ward trainee, who should be a factor in the late going. I’m going with #5-Cousin Stephen (3-1), who had an excuse in his most recent start, a fifth-place finish vs. entry-level allowance foes at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Chad Brown said the colt was found to have a significant amount of mucous in his lungs after the race, and is willing to overlook that performance. You’ll note that he was favored over the highly-regarded trio of Commisioner, Top Billing and Hy Kodiak Warrior in that race, so there’s definitely some buzz around this horse. Local kingpin Daniel Centeno takes over the mount, and should work out a nice trip just off the pace. The bullet breeze that Cousin Stephen turned in on January 19th at Palm Meadows indicates that he’s feeling good and is ready for another move forward. In Chad we trust! I’ll bet on Cousin Stephen to win at odds of 2-1 or better.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for this weekend. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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