Sham Stakes


Saturday February 27, 2010 - Race 8

Estimated Local Post Time: 4:07 PM

Name: Sham S. Grade: 3

Purse: $150,000

Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES



The Program

Outlaw Man

El Mirage King

Boulder Creek

Kettle River


Wolf Tail


Alphie’s Bet


Last week the Sham Stakes were rained out - so they're going to give it another try this Saturday and if the rain pours again - try it again on Sunday. Some of the horses have changed - but overall I believe the story of this race remains the same.

What makes the Sham an intriguing stakes races is that many of these horses weren’t on a career path of attempting a Kentucky Derby run, most of these horses have the bulk of their races on Turf and I believe the only reason many of these horses are in this race – is that their owners figure…..why not?

Nobody in this race is a hot prospect for the big dance in May, no one entered a Super horse….there’s only one horse who has a Stakes win and he’s going off at 20/1– so this race could mean an owner just picking up a sizeable purse and calling it a day, or this race could also mean the first step for bigger races for the winner.

Marcello (new entry) - similiar to many of these other horses Marcello has had some moderate success on Turf and is looking to give the Synthetic track another try. His last outing wasn't very successful as he finished 5th in the Cash Call Futurity last December, a race that saw The Program finish just ahead of him in 4th. Marcello has a favorable post position for this race as he will have no problem riding the rail among the middle of the pack for the bulk of this race. At the final turn if an alley opens up along the rail - Marcello could easily be in the best position to turn on the after burners and steal the Stakes - however if there's no alley along the rail - he could be shut out - at 15/1 odds he's definitely worth a look.

The Program will enjoy a very favorable post position for his style of racing. The Program will look to grab a very early lead and set the pace. This colt is fresh off a 1 1/16 mile victory here at Santa Anita at the beginning of this month. Martin Garcia returns as his jockey, however he’s one of two horses carrying 118 lbs. instead of 116. I think this horse has everything going for him in this race - the only question is how will he handle the distance?

Kettle River recently defeated The Program at Santa Anita, in a 1 1/16th race in early January. Kettle River (which simultaneously makes me hungry for Kettle Popcorn and the desire to sing Old Man River) has won two out of his last three races. His only loss came in a very muddy 6 furlong slop fest that I don’t believe they tried their hardest in. His jockey Brice Blanc returns for his 3rd straight race and Kettle will also carry 118 lbs.

Outlaw Man – his last three races were on turf and he finished those races 1st / 3rd and 2nd. I believe he’ll like the distance of the Sham Stakes – but the transition from running on the grass to running on a synthetic track is difficult to predict – however three straight races he’s been in the money and the odds maker has him at 10/1 ?

Setsuko – is currently going off at 3/1 – he has only 1 victory in his past 6 races however in those 6 races he finished no lower than 4th. The Program defeated Setsuko in a 1 mile race back in October, and yet the odds makers prefer Setsuko in this race – this is usually the time when I write that somebody must know something I don’t – but wait it gets a little stranger….

Wolf Tail – has been the model of consistency as he has finished in the top three 5 races out of 8 – pretty good if you ask me. From what I’m reading he’s the only stakes winner in this race….and of course he’s going off at 20/1……HUH?

El Mirage King is fresh off a victory here at Santa Anita, however he doesn’t have a race over 1 mile on his resume. It’s possible that they’ll stretch him out in this race and be rewarded for it – but even in this race a victory would be a surprise.

Boulder Creek looks to be a horse on the rise here at Santa Anita. He finished first here in a 1 1/16 mile trek in early February and seems to be improving with time and distance. He's finished no worse than 4th in his last 4 races and with his 12/1 odds I'd look to include him in a trifecta bet, because frankly his competition isn't that impressive. 

Alphie’s Bet is also fresh off a 1 mile turf victory here at Santa Anita – and very similar to Outlaw Man you have to wonder what the results will be as he transfers from the lush grass to the fake dirt? The day after last Christmas he finished 2nd in a 1 1/16 mile race here at Santa Anita, so you have to figure Alphie’s Bet could challenge as well (he’s going off at 8/1).

And finally we come to the favorite in this race Nextdoorneighbor who returns from his Jan. 24th victory at this track and at this distance. That is his only victory in his last three races and I have no idea why this horse has been chosen as the favorite. He hasn’t defeated anyone of consequence, his post position in this race isn’t great, and personally I think there are more proven horses racing this Saturday.

Since the post positions have shaken (but not stirred) things up a little - I'm forced to rethink my selections - I'm still taking The Program to win, Setsuko to place and Kettle River just edging out Boulder Creek for third.

Of course should the favorite “put me in my place” again – I’ll certainly be having a hard day’s night…..and thinking I should have known better – back me up Beatles –




Risen Star Stakes Recap


Name: Risen Star S. Grade: 2


Discreetly Mine

Tempted To Tapit

Northern Giant


Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Also ran: Drosselmeyer, Stay Put, Ron The Greek, Worldly, Letsgetitonmon, Mountain Justice, Hotep, Random Move, Bravo Whiskey.

When I previewed the Risen Star Stakes – I just didn’t jive (am I really using the word jive here?? Where am I 1974…on the set of Good Times???) --- I just didn’t jive with what I was seeing on paper for Discreetly Mine. He hadn’t won a race since August and his recent outings hadn’t impressed me – however, as I wrote before the weekend, the good people betting on this race seemed to like him – should have listened.

Discreetly Mine jumped out to an early lead, just edging out Tempted To Tapit on the first turn, as Northern Giant moved into third place….and as you’ll see on the replay very little changed from that moment on. The call was Discreetly Mine first, Tempted to Tapit second and Northern Giant third from the first quarter mile to the finish line.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux does an excellent job of positioning Drosselmeyer along the rail in the final stretch – giving this Nutcracker pony a sugarplum of a chance to jingle all the way to the winner’s circle (don’t see many Christmas metaphors in horse racing), instead he didn’t seem to have that next gear to take the race over.

Two deep closers, Ron The Greek and Stay Put, failed to crack the top three in this race – however their future will include longer races, including any of the Derbies (Louisiana, Kentucky….etc) and while I haven’t seen a horse yet that I think is a “favorite” for the Kentucky Derby or Preakness – I do think these two horses, with their late rally ability, could be very dangerous in the Belmont Stakes, but we've got a long way to go before we get there.

**Incidentally I recently found a new website called and I highly recommend it.

Video of the race to follow:


Risen Star Stakes


Saturday February 20, 2010 - Race 10

Estimated Local Post Time: 4:43 PM

Name: Risen Star S. Grade: 2

Purse: $300,000

Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES


Bravo Whiskey

Tempted To Tapit

Mountain Justice

Discreetly Mine

Random Move


Northern Giant


Stay Put


Ron The Greek



This weekend features five…count ‘em….five great prep races! In Northern California it’s the El Camino Real Derby featuring Herb Alpert’s one Horse band Ranger Heartly. There’s the Soutwest Stakes race, which needed to be rescheduled from last weekend in Oaklawn, there’s also the Hutcheson and Fountain of Youth Stakes being delivered up at Gulfstream Park….and finally – O.M.G. – there’s the Risen Star Stakes at the Fairgrounds. Wow!

*My musical selection to ease you into the weekend takes a little time to load - so you may want to go ahead and hit that link on the bottom to get things started - I think it's worth it. Then read the blog - and return to music at the end.

Back to the regularly scheduled blogging.....

Now I know I’ve promised myself (and in a way my readers) that I would not get caught up in the Louisiana hype this year that has lead me to put my faith (and when I write faith – I kind of really mean money) on horses who were championed here – such as Friesen Fire and Pyro.

However I think this race could be the most exciting to watch, and the most challenging to predict of any of the three year old prep races taking place this weekend.

We’ll start with Bravo Whiskey – love the name, can’t say I think much of this horse in this race. His last victory was at 6 furlongs, and I just don’t believe he’ll do well against this field.

Tempted To Tapit is a very intriguing pick for bettors this Saturday. He ran very well in his last race, which put him in the winner’s circle – and his running style differs from his strongest competitors. Tapit likes to run at the head of the pack early, and in his last race (which was 1 mile) he was able to hold off any latecomers. Currently he’s going off at 8/1 odds and if he can make it out of the gate without trouble I think his post position will be very favorable for this race.

Mountain Justice worries me, then again I’m from West Virginia and when I hear the words Mountain and Justice put together it usually puts visions of Ned Beatty in my head. In regards to the horse he’s been very solid in his last two outings with a victory and a place – but those races were on the turf – this race will be on dirt. His 20/1 odds interest me, but I think he’ll be outclassed in this one.

Discreetly Mine is currently going off at 5/1 odds, and I see him more as a 8/1 or 10/1 horse. His last victory was in August, and since then he’s placed twice and most recently finished fourth. All I can say for this guy is that the public seems to like him.

Random Move has a new jockey and a new trainer, but he’ll be racing against some familiar horses who have defeated him in the past – Stay Put, Mountain Justice, and Northern Giant and I don’t even think those horses are the best in the field.

Drosselmeyer (whose name comes from the Nutcracker story/ballet) has won his last two races and I wouldn't be surprised to see he and Northern Giant stalking the leader as it seems to be where they're most comfortable. Northern Giant has previous losses to Stay Put and Discreetly Mine. 

In my opinion this is a big race for Drosselmeyer – or should I say a big race for bettors and Triple Crown fans to see how good this horse really is. His victories (on paper) haven’t been that impressive – however if he wins this race, he’ll definitely be considered a hot prospect for the KY Derby.

Worldly has one victory in his last six races – however in his only victory he was able to defeat Stay Put in a 1 1/16th mile race. I believe this horse would need a lot of things to go right for him to visit the winner’s circle this Saturday.

The following three horses are the reason I decided to write about the Risen Star Stakes – because they could make this race a LOT of fun. Stay Put, Letsgetitonmon and especially Ron The Greek are most comfortable running (or perhaps I should write loping) in the back of the pack for what will seem like three quarters of the race.

I mean Ron the Greek runs soooooooo far back he might be out of frame, on the camera filming the race, for the first half mile. However it’s when they head for home that everything is going to change for these three horses. All three of them have killer closing speed – so don’t throw away any tickets early!

Stay Put has back to back victories here at the Fairgrounds coming into this race. He’s also already defeated a number of the competitors he’ll be facing this Saturday.

Letsgetitonmon hasn’t visited the winner’s circle in the past six races but with a little luck he could be dangerous – and let’s face it his name reminds me of a Marvin Gaye song which if played at the right time, with the right woman….and a little luck….could be dangerous.

Ron The Greek cracks me up, because of his icy cool demeanor in his last outing, a victory, in the LeComte Stakes. He’ll act like he doesn’t even care that he’s in a race for the first….oh mile – but in that last stretch he runs like his tail is on fire.

Who knows they’re all young horses – but if these three horses run their expected style it is going to be a nail biter.

Finishing the twelve horse set is Hotep who has two victories in his last four races, however he came in 4th against Stay Put, Worldly and Letsgetitonmon in early January. Hotep also seems to favor jumping out to an early lead, which I believe is going to be very difficult from the 12th post.

I believe in the middle of the first turn Hotep will challenge Tempted To Tapit, but as they come out of the final turn I believe Hotep will begin to fade. The big question is: Can Tampted to Tapit hold on for a victory as Stay Put, Ron The Greek and Letsgetitonmon begin their avalanche of late speed in the final stretch?

You also can’t forget Drosselmeyer who will have been stalking the pace and should have a solid position heading for home.

I think the late runners might have difficulty navigating around one another coming out of the final turn and that’s why I’m taking a chance that Tempted To Tapit will end up with a surprise victory (I could see Tapit with higher odds than 8/1), followed by a too little too late Ron the Greek, and in third Drosselmeyer just holding off Stay Put.

Okay - I've got the song in my head now....and you probably do as well - may as well watch a Master at work -



Sam F. Davis Stakes Recap

Sam F. Davis Stakes - Recap

Tampa Bay Downs



Schoolyard Dreams



Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Also ran: Silver Craft, Middle of the Nite and Tristen's Mambo
Scratched: African Moon

Good news / Bad news for the Wickedstyle blog this weekend –

The good news is I conjured up the correct top three horses in the Sam F. Davis (which would have turned $6 into $40 – had you bet those three as a boxed tri-fecta).

The bad news is – while I got three correct, I completely missed the order, I mean not one of them landed where I thought they would….oh well I’m still looking at it as a mild victory. If you want to watch a substantial victory I suggest you watch the video replay of Rule going wire to wire in the Sam F. Davis Stakes.

Rule certainly earns the respect James Scully has been granting him – and after this victory I’m sure more writers (including yours truly) will be considering him a genuine threat in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

One thing that interested me about this race is that Schoolyard Dreams (#2) steps up and challenges Rule as they both swing out of the final turn. But just when you imagine the leader may fade (see: Middle of the Nite #4) – he finds another gear and leaves Schoolyard…..dreaming….(I am so sorry – but it had to be done).

As you watch the replay you’ll see that Uptowncharlybrown (#6) is really the only horse that gets a less than perfect first step out of the gate. His jockey Daniel Centeno wisely moves towards the rail only to be mildly cut off by Tristen’s Mambo --- and if his jockey was Dean Martin, he may have yelled “Hey Mambo….”or maybe that’s just how I'd like to think it happened.

Regardless, Uptowncharlybrown may have lost a few steps due to the sub-par first quarter mile, but I don’t know that it cost him the race. Rule just looked like the best horse with the best post position last Saturday and when a challenge presented itself he blew right past it.

Video to follow:


Sam F. Davis Stakes

Tampa Bay Downs

Name: Sam F. Davis S. Grade: 3

Saturday February 13, 2010 - Race 10

Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES



Schoolyard Dreams

Tristen’s Mambo

Middle of the Nite

Silver Craft


African Moon


Kentucky Derby analysts James Scully and Kellie Reilly both believe that one of these horses belong on their Top 10 lists…..they just don’t agree that it’s the same horse.

Rule, who James Scully likes, returns to racing after successfully winning the Delta Jackpot in early December. Rule has won three races in a row by jumping out to an early lead and maintaining it until reaching the winners circle. There are however two drawbacks to Rule being golden this Saturday.

The first drawback is that he’ll be carrying the most weight of 122 lbs, compared to the bulk of the field that will only be carrying 116. The second drawback (if you can believe it) is that Rule won so much money / earnings in the Delta Jackpot that he doesn’t “have” to win this race (or any other races) to successfully earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

Consider what his Trainer Todd Pletcher had to say:

"Obviously by already having enough graded earnings, we don't have to push as much and we've got a margin for error should something happen where he doesn't run well in one of these preps,"

"It certainly takes the pressure off having to win. What we're looking for here is a good comeback without him overdoing it while gradually building him up for a peak performance, hopefully, on Derby Day." 

I’d be a little concerned to put money on a horse going off at 8/5 that may be using this race more for training purposes than winning and is carrying the most weight.

Kellie Reilly on the other hand likes Uptowncharlybrown, and after watching Uptown’s victory in the Pasco Stakes – it’s clear the race announcer also really likes Uptowncharlybrown as he puts a little spin on the horse’s name each time he says it.

Uptowncharlybrown enters the Sam F. Davis stakes undefeated – and has enjoyed both victories here at Tampa Bay Downs. There is a concern that this horse has never raced any further than 7 furlongs – however in the Pasco victory he looked like he still had plenty of gas in the tank at the finish line. Unlike Rule, Uptowncharlybrown needs to start collecting graded earnings if he wants a shot in the Kentucky Derby. Uptown is also carrying 118 lbs instead of 116.

Trainer Derek Ryan will be running his horse Schoolyard Dreams, and Ryan has had success at this track before with Tampa Bay Derby winner Big Truck and last years Tampa Derby winner Musket Man. Schoolyard Dreams has won two out of his last three races, both victories coming in races that required two turns.

Tristens Mambo –  has, in three consecutive races, finished in 10th place, 9th place and in his last race here at Tampa Downs 1st place……so was it a fluke, does he like the track??? I think there’s too much talent in this field for this horse to challenge, but that recent win makes him an interesting 20/1.

Middle of the Nite will probably challenge Rule for the better part of a half mile and then I expect him to fade…..quietly into the night (couldn’t help it).

Silver Craft came in a distant 4th place behind Uptowncharlybrown in the Pasco Stakes and unless Silver Craft takes a large leap in development in this race I think 4th place (or worse) is about right for him again.

In my opinion, African Moon is a very intriguing 15/1 horse for this Saturday’s race. He’s finished in first and second place in his last two races (both at 1 mile and 40 yards) here at Tampa Bay Downs and he’ll have a slight weight advantage. In his last race he did place behind Schoolyard Dreams and I’m not crazy about his post position – but he certainly offers an interesting enough payoff to put him in a tri-fecta bet and hope for the best.

In conclusion I like Uptowncharlybrown to win, primarily because he knows this track and has a slight weight advantage over Rule who I think will finish in second place after leading the pack for most of the way.  And in third place I like Schoolyard Dreams, however if the odds of African Moon stayed the same or went up I would be tempted to throw him in a tri-fecta with Uptown and Rule.

*Usually I like to add a little music to my blog to kick-off the weekend - I thought this week I would add a little Tampa Bay inspiration for those of us who will be mourning the lack of football this weekend.



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