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Sham Stakes; Six Sophomores Looking For Some Derby Points

2014 Sham Stakes (GIII); Six Sophomores Looking For Some Derby Points

The Sham Stakes takes place this Saturday, January 11th, 2014 at sunny Santa Anita Park in Arcadia California. The race is for 3 year-olds running a mile on the dirt for a purse of $100,000 and is one of the official prep-races used as a foot-in-the-door to the Santa Anita Derby in April, which is on the road to the 2014 Kentucky Derby. These colts have a chance to earn eligibility points which will award 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.

Sham Stakes 2014

Sham and his trainer Pancho Martin
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Inaugurated in 2001, the Sham Stakes is named for the racehorse Sham, winner of the 1973 Santa Anita Derby and remembered for his battles with Secretariat in that year’s U.S. Triple Crown Races.

In 2012, the distance was changed to one mile after being contested at 1 1/8 for ten years in which the speed record is held by The Pamplemousse in 2009 at 1:47.86. In 2011, it was run at 1 1/16 for only one year where the speed record is held by Tapizar at 1:40.38. The record for the mile now sits at 1:34.56 by Out Of Bounds set in 2012. Last year the race was won by Goldencents with a time of 1:36.50. A lot of mumbo-jumbo and hopefully they leave the distance alone for a while.

The 2014 Sham Stakes is the 5th a race of the day with a start time set for 2:30 pm PST.

We have a small field of six here and one of the colts I like is the young trainee for Bob Baffert, the gray son of Midnight Lute, Midnight Hawk. He won his maiden first out going 7 1/2F at Betfair Hollywood Park on December 13th by 6 1/4 lengths where he broke slow, stalked on the rail to hit the upper stretch and take the lead for the huge win. He’s been training very well at Santa Anita on the dirt where he recently working 5F on January 6th in :58.40 1/32 and 6F on December 30th in 1:11.00 1/16. Midnight Hawk retains the services of Mike Smith and exits post #6.

The son of Top Hit, Top Fortitude who is owned and bred in Arizona by the Owens family-owned Triple AAA Ranch hails from the dam French Debutante and is trained by Kory Owens. This colt has a truck-load of black type in his bloodlines as he is a full brother to stakes winner French Hit, double stakes winner Top Debutante and three-time stakes winner Uh Oh Bango. He also sports being a half-brother to seven-time stakes winner E Z Dreamer. The Owens/Stra connection has produced six victories from 20 starters with a $4.02 return on investment ($4.02 for every $2 wagered on all 20 runners). Top Fortitude most recently showed a huge turn of foot in his lone maiden win running 6 1/2F at Hollywood Park on November 16th leaving the far turn to gain the lead coasting to the finish line registering a 99 BRIS Speed rating for the 2 3/4 length score. Kayla Stra will be back aboard this colt and breaks from post #5.

The other young colt I like in here to finish well is the #3 Life Is a Joy who is trained and part-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer. He’s out of Globalize/Tadita/Indian Charlie, has the most earned money here with $131,300 and sports a race record of 6:3:1:0. He is coming off a second place finish in the statebred King Glorious Stakes on December 22nd at Hollywood Park going 7F. He placed 5th twice in his prior two races, one on November 23rd in the Hollywood Park Real Quite Stakes going 1 1/16 and on November 1st at Santa Anita going a mile in the Golden State Juvenile where he stumbled from the gate. He recently worked 5F at Santa Anita on January 4 in 1:02.60 48/58 and on December 29th 4F in 47.80 9/52. Corey Nakatani gets the mount again and Life Is a Joy exits post #3.

I like Midnight Hawk here for the win for the 2014 Sham Stakes. Bob Baffert has some really nice colts in his barn this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of his sophomores make the starting gate in the 2014 Triple Crown series. Baffert has been high on Midnight Lute for quite a while and after the disappointment of Govenor Charlie, also a son of Midnight Lute, not making the trail last year after a foot injury, I think Midnight Hawk can make some noise here and I like the equipment change with no blinks. Midnight Hawk has a lot of speed as well as Kristo and Top Fortitude so we may see a speed duel in here. I hope Midnight Hawk can rate and I have to leave Top Fortitude in here with the Arizona connections. Life Is a Joy is barking up the tree again and if the speed tanks, he’s there. It’s hard to gauge these youngsters with a few coming off only a maiden win so I’m going with #6 to win with #3 & #5 behind to make up the top three.

From a wagering standpoint I think Midnight Hawk and Kristo will take the most money so I would try to beat them at the window with a Win/Place bet on either Life Is a Joy or Top Fortitude depending on the odds and play the #1,3,5,6 in a leg of a pick 3. Good luck to all of the horses and their connections.

Related Links:
What to Wear to the Sham Stakes

2014 Sham Stakes Post Positions & Odds
1. Kristo R. Bejarano/J.Sadler
2. I’ll Wrap It Up T.Baze/D.O’Neill
3. Life Is a Joy C.Nakatani/J.Hollendorfer
4. Ontology M.Gutierrez/S.Callaghan
5. Top Fortitude K.Stra/R.Owens
6. Midnight Hawk* M.Smith/B.Baffert
*Midnight Hawk- Blinkers off