The Morning Line: Sham Stakes

Secret Circle, Sham Stakes 4-5 Favorite

Santa Anita kicks off the 2012 Kentucky Derby preps with the Grade 3 Sham Stakes this afternoon.  It is the third race in today’s 9 race card with the post time listed at 1:32 local time.  After winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint as the 2-5 favorite, Secret Circle returns to Santa Anita where he won the Jack Goodman stakes last October.  Although this will be his first career race at a distance of 1 mile, Secret Circle is still the 4-5 favorite on the Morning Line.

Standing in his way is a field of 5 other horses.  Here is the line-up for the 2012 Sham Stakes.  

G3 Sham Stakes | Purse $100,000  |  3 Year Olds  |  1 Mile  |  Dirt

  1. Senior Rain            J. Talamo              P. Miller              20-1
  2. Out of Bounds        G. Gomez             E. Harty              5-1
  3. Hierro                     J. Leparoux           S. Asmussen      3-1
  4. Secret Circle          R. Bejarano           B. Baffert            4-5
  5. Longview Drive      J. Rosario             J. Hollendorfer     8-1
  6. Handsome Mike     C. Nakatani          D. O’Neil              5-1

Secret Circle is going to be hard to beat.  When Baffert makes no secret about it that this colt is high on his list of most promising 3-yr-olds, it’s a horse that definitely deserves the credit he’s earned.  However, from a betting perspective beating the favorite is worth a shot.

Picks:  Handsome Mike has got a nice spot here and I like his chances of getting on the board and possibly pulling off the upset.  To play it conservatively against the favorite, I’m playing Handsome Mike Across the Board.  Trifecta: 3-4-6

Hierro makes it into my trifecta because this horse is expected to handle the distance very well and he is in good hands.  Trained by Steve Asmussen this colt has raced 3 lifetime starts at 7 furlongs.  Last time out was his first career win at Churchill Downs.  A son of Hard Spun, Hierro is going to be a horse to watch if he comes out of this race clean and gives a gutsy performance that lands him on the board.

Live long shot.  Senor Rain has the most career starts of any these horses.  Having raced 6 times as a 2-yr-old, the final race of 2011 seemed to have taken its toll on the young colt who started out rather solid in the summer of last year.  After a 3rd place finish in the Real Quiet, Senor Rain returned to Hollywood Park for a disappointing 9th place finish in his graded stakes debut – G3 Generous, 11/27.  With ample rest, Senor Rain is a sleeper here that will pay nicely at odds of at least 15-1.

The road to the Kentucky Derby has begun on the West Coast.  Good Luck to all horses, jockeys and their connections in today’s Sham Stakes.

Written by: Little Brink

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