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Pete’s Pick: Top Fortitude in The Sham

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 1/10/2014 7:52:31 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Kristo, Top Fortitude, Midnight Hawk

What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Sham

Where: Santa Anita

When: Saturday, January 11th

Saturday’s Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita has attracted a compact field of six, with three expected to vie for favoritism. That role will probably go to the Bob Baffert-trained Midnight Hawk, but Kristo and Top Fortitude will get plenty of support at the windows as well. Let’s take a closer look at these talented youngsters below.

After a pair of seconds sprinting, #1-Kristo (2-1) broke his maiden on the stretch-out at Santa Anita, drawing off by nearly seven. The John Sadler trainee was sent off at odds of 3-5 in all three starts, so his talent has been no secret since day one. His connections chose to skip the final Hollywood Park meet, and have been pointing for this spot. He should be fit enough after a pair of recent six-furlong works on the Santa Anita main oval. His main advantage over the aforementioned rivals to his outside is that he has won around two turns on this surface. Kristo is the most like runner to hit the board, but he may need to improve to take the top prize.

Trainer Bob Baffert is ever-present on the Kentucky Derby trail, and #6-Midnight Hawk (8-5) looks like another in a long line of Derby hopefuls from the Baffert barn. Midnight Hawk’s career debut was impressive, and also somewhat bizarre. He broke tardily, then rushed up to take the lead, backed off into third, then came running to draw off by more than six lengths. The blinkers come off for this, so maybe he’ll relax better this time around. The gray colt’s debut came at Hollywood Park, but he’s been working bullets at Santa Anita, so he should handle the surface switch. The extra half-furlong of The Sham shouldn’t pose much of a problem either. The likely favorite may not offer much value, however.

#5-Top Fortitude (2-1) was very professional and visually impressive in winning his 6 ½-furlong career bow at Hollywood Park by nearly three lengths, and he earned the field’s top Beyer Speed Figure (92) in the process. While the trainer/jockey combo of Owens/Stra is not well known on the California circuit (which helps the price), you’ll note they’ve clicked at an amazing win rate of 50% with an ROI of $6.82 with limited starters (16) in 2013-14. This Arizona-bred colt had a huge gallop-out in his debut, and he’s been training at Santa Anita all along, so there are plenty of positives to hang your hat on. He’s bred to handle two turns just fine, and don’t be surprised to see him on or near the lead in The Sham. I’ll bet on #5-Top Fortitude to win at odds of 2-1 or better (and I suspect they’ll be better).

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

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