Baffert Sends Out Betting Favorite in Sham

Drill, shown here winning the San Vicente heads to the gate in today's San Pasqual (photo credit: Bigstock)

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is hoping he has a Kentucky Derby contender when he saddles betting favorite Midnight Hawk on Saturday in the $100,000 Sham (G3) at Santa Anita.

The colt is the 8-5 morning line favorite in a field of six that will go one mile on the main track. The race is a Kentucky Derby points race with 10-4-2-1 points up for grabs to the top four finishers.

The Baffert trainee is currently listed at 60-1 at Bovada in Kentucky Derby future betting. A son of Grade 1 winner Midnight Lute, the colt broke his maiden in his debut on Dec. 13 going 7 ½ furlongs on the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park.

The colt is owned by a partnership that includes Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Tice.

Baffert thought the colt raced greenly in his debut and is taking the blinkers off for his first trip around two turns. Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith gets the return call.

Five of the six runners in the field are coming off maiden wins, and only Ontology and Life Is a Joy have competed in stakes company. Life Is a Joy won the Palmer Futurity at Fresno last October.

The co-feature on the card is the $200,000 San Pasqual (G2) for older runners going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. The race drew a solid field of seven led by 2-1 morning line favorite Blueskiesnrainbows, who won the Native Diver (G3) in his last outing.

At Gulfstream Park this afternoon there are a pair of stakes, the $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale (G2) on turf and the $100,000 Hal’s Hope (G3) on the main track, both of the stakes for older runners.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes all of the stakes action from Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita along with my strongest plays from Aqueduct.

Let’s head out to Santa Anita for Saturday’s featured race of the day:


Santa Anita Race 5 The Sham G3 (Post time 1:52 PT)       

6 Midnight Hawk   8-5

3 Life Is a Joy   12-1

1 Kristo   2-1

5 Top Fortitude    2-1

Analysis: Midnight Hawk was off a beat slow, raced a bit green while pulling early and drew away late to break his maiden in his debut by 6 1/4 lengths on the fake stuff at Hollywood Park. He was well backed, sent off as the 6-5 chalk in a field of six. The colt has been working sharply since that debut and now the Baffert barn takes the hood off as he stretches out to a route here. A mile should be no problem and he looks as if he still has a ton of upside. The barn is 25% winners moving runners from sprint to route.

Life Is a Joy is the longest price in the field but is more battled tested than the likely three favs who each are coming off maiden wins. This guy has a stakes win at Fresno and last out ran second in the state breed King Glorious at seven furlongs at Hollywood Park. I like the stretch back out to two turns here for the Hollendorfer barn that is 23% winners moving runners from sprint to route.

Kristo burned some serious money in his first two starts and got the job done last out in his third career start and first around two turns. He took the field gate to wire to win by 6 3/4 lengths. He did not beat a real tough group, with two he beat coming back to run second next out but the best Beyer any posted next out was a 66. The $500,000 purchase has a nice pedigree, by Distorted Humor out of the stakes winner Capote’s Crown ($132,467).

Top Fortitude earned the top last out speed fig breaking his maiden in his debut, sent off at 8-1 in a field of nine. He does look as if he beat a slightly better group than Kristo did in his maiden win. The colt is a half to Ez Dreamer ($533,948) and Uh Oh Bango ($691,512).


WIN: #6 to win at 7-5 or better.

EX: 3,6 / 1,3,6

TRI: no play


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