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Pete’s Picks: California Chrome in San Felipe, Conquest Titan in Tampa Bay Derby, Mucho Macho Man in Santa Anita Handicap

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 3/7/2014 8:48:46 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – California Chrome, Kristo, Midnight Hawk, Conquest Titan, Vinceremos, Will Take Charge, Mucho Macho Man

What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The San Felipe (Grade 2), The Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2), The Santa Anita Handicap (Grade 1)

Where: Santa Anita, Tampa Bay Downs

When: Saturday, March 8th

A pair of key Kentucky Derby preps will serve to wet the appetites of horse racing fans on Saturday prior to the 77th Running ofThe Santa Anita Handicap, featuring last year’s 3YO champ Will Take Charge and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man. The Grade 2San Felipe at Santa Anita will go off at approximately 5:00 PM ET, to be followed about 25 minutes later by the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. Let’s take a closer look at all three races below.

While #4-California Chrome (3-1) dominated Cal-breds in both of his 3YO starts, he twice failed to hit the board vs. open-company stakes runners last year. The third time may be the charm, however. He has improved by leaps and bounds, and the switch to jockey Victor Espinoza has worked to perfection. California Chrome now has a winning two-turn race under his belt, he has trained beautifully since that start, and he’ll be dropping six pounds off that winning effort. His stiffest competition figures to come from #9-Midnight Hawk (4-1), from the Bob Baffert barn, and#7-Kristo (4-1), trained by John Sadler. Those two runners finished one-two respectively in the Grade 3 Sham, and posses Beyer Speed Figures that put them on a par with the likely favorite. Kristo spots both rivals recency, and Midnight Hawk is a bit headstrong, so I’m leaning toward California Chrome…the hot horse. I’ll bet on #4-California Chrome to win at odds of 8-5 or better, and key him on top of #7-Kristo and #9-Midnight Hawk in exactas.

It’s always a bit dicey to pick a horse at Tampa Bay Downs who is not familiar with the racing surface, but that’s what I’m doing in picking #5-Conquest Titan (7-2) to win the Tampa Bay Derby. He fetched $475,000 as a 2YO-in-training, and has more than held his own vs. some of the best in the division. He finished second to Cairo Prince in the Grade 2 Holy Bull last out, defeating Grade 2 Risen Star winner Intense Holiday in the process. He also pulled away from the highly-regarded General a Rod in his final start as a 2YO. #6-Vinceremos (4-1), winner of the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis locally, and #8-Cousin Stephen (9-2), a close third in that race, appear to be a notch below the Mark Casse-trained runner. I’ll bet on Conquest Titan to win the Tampa Bay Derby at odds of 2-1 or better.

Finally, in the “Big Cap”, I’m sticking with #2-Mucho Macho Man (9-5), who rewarded me handsomely in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at a futures price of 8-1 (which was offered the week of the race)! He loves Santa Anita, had a beautiful prep for this, and he’s actually getting a positive 3-pound shift in the weights vs. Will Take Charge (compared to what each carried in The BC Classic). #1-Will Take Charge (2-1) finished a very good second behind Lea in The Donn Handicap last out, and should be ready for a peak effort here, coming off a series of sharp works at Oaklawn Park. The venerable #7-Game On Dude (5-2) looks like he may be past his prime. I’ll bet on #2-Mucho Macho Man to win at odds of 1-1 (even money) or better, and a straight 2-1 exacta, Mucho Macho Man over Will Take Charge .

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

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