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Pete’s Picks: Chitu in The Robert B. Lewis, Lea in The Donn Handicap

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 2/7/2014 9:18:56 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Candy Boy, Midnight Hawk, Chitu, Will Take Charge, Revolutionary, River Seven, Lea

What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Robert B. Lewis, The Donn Handicap

Where: Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park

When: Saturday and Sunday, February 8th and 9th

This weekend we’ll get to enjoy the exploits of some top three-year-olds on the left coast and some very salty older horses on the east coast. On Saturday, a field of seven is expected to line up in the 76th Running of The Robert B. Lewis (Grade 2) at Santa Anita, headed by morning-line favorite Midnight Hawk (9-5). On Sunday, eleven older horses will head postward for the 59th Running of The Donn Handicap (Grade 1) at Gulfstream Park, featuring last year’s 3YO Male Champ, Will Take Charge (9-5). Let’s take a closer look at the contenders in both races below.

In The Robert B. Lewis, trainer Bob Baffert sends out the uncoupled pair of #3-Midnight Hawk (9-5) and #7-Chitu (7-2). Both are unbeaten in two starts, with their latest wins coming on Santa Anita’s main oval. Midnight Hawk may be the more fancied of the pair, having won the Grade 3 Sham going two turns, whereas his stablemate beat entry-level allowance foes sprinting. #1-Candy Boy (2-1) will take action because of his solid second last out behind 2YO Champ Shared Belief in The Cash Call Futurity (Grade 1). His 95 Beyer Speed Figure in that race ties for the field’s best, and now that Gary Steven has gotten to know his mount, further improvement is expected. Still, I’m leaning toward Chitu. His odds are more attractive, and his speed makes him a serious threat to take this field gate-to-wire. With the great A. P. Indy on the dam’s side, why wouldn’t this youngster be able to stretch out successfully at first asking? I’ll bet on #4-Chitu to win at odds of 5-2 or better, and key him on top of #1-Candy Boy and #3-Midnight Hawk in exactas.

#2-Will Take Charge (9-5) turned into a monster in the second half of his 3YO campaign, winning a pair of Grade 1’s and just missing in The Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, he was all-out to win The Clark Handicap to close out the year, and his 101 Beyer was a bit below par. Now he’s returning from a freshening to a track where he’s never raced, so I’ll be looking elsewhere for value. #3-Revolutionary (5-1) is a very nice horse, and also a millionaire with just nine races under his belt. However, I’m not sure if he’s all the way back after a seven-month break and a rather easy tuneup vs. lesser. I’ll be kicking myself if he wins, but that’s horse racing. #5-River Seven (4-1) is a very interesting animal. He’s a Grade 3 winner on both polytrack and turf, but his listed stakes win last out on the Gulfstream Park main track stamps him as a serious player in here. He beat some nice horses in that race, including Csaba, Bourbon Courage and Neck ‘n Neck, and did it fairly easily. You could do worse. #8-Lea (10-1) is my selection in this race, and the price will be juicy. He too defeated a solid field last out in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope, and that handy score came after a 2 ½-month break and a trainer change from Al Stall to Bill Mott. That did the trick, as Lea ran a lifetime-best Beyer of 101 in his first try over a dry dirt track. The late-bloomer continues to train forwardly at his Payson Park base, and class is there, as he’s a son of First Samurai out of a Galileo mare. I’ll bet on #8-Lea across the board (win/place/show) at odds of 8-1 or better.

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

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