Road To The Kentucky Derby – Sham Stakes Preview
- January 4, 2019
Sham Stakes is first of four Road to the Kentucky Derby Prep Series races at Santa Anita
The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues Jan. 5 with the $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. The Sham is a 1-mile race for 3-year-olds and offers 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner and 4,2 and 1 point to the next three finishers.
Top trainer Bob Baffert brings two contenders into this year’s 19th running of the Sham Stakes after capturing the 2018 edition with McKinzie. Baffert has won three of the last five runinngs of the Sham. For the first time, Godolphin Racing has turned over some of their horses to Baffert in hopes the Hall of Fame trainer can help the owner capture their first Kentucky Derby.
Coliseum (1-1) is the favorite for Baffert after an easy 6 ½ length win in his only career start in November. Over the past five years, Baffert has won 14-of-42 races when starting a horse off a debut maiden win if his next start is a stakes race. Coliseum is a grey colt by Tapit, and posted an Equibase Speed Figure (ESF) of 104 in his maiden debut, which is the best in the Sham Field. He’ll face stakes competition for the first time in the Sham with Joe Talamo back in the irons.
Baffert’s other starter is Much Better (6-1), finished last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and has a Equibase best speed figure of 97. Young star rider Drayden Van Dyke rides after being pulled from Gun Metal Gray in favor of Mike Smith; a similar move by Baffert last year with Triple Crown winner Justify.
Sueno (20-1) is a long shot of interest. He’s off a two-turn win in the Gold Rush Stakes last month. He came from off the pace and posted an ESF of 95. That race was over an all-weather surface, but Sueno won over the dirt previously. Kent Desormeaux rides for his brother and trainer Keith, who has another runner in the race with Easy Shot (30-1) a maiden claimer winner last time out.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s entry is Gunmetal Gray (5-2) the only horse in the field that ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenlle at Churchill Downs. He rallied from the back to finish 5th, and Gunmetal Gray also has a runner-up finish American Pharoah Stakes with a ESF of 100, won by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Game Winner. More mature and improving, Mike Smith will try to ride him to victory as one of three horses in the field with stakes experience.
Trainer Peter Miller has a pair worth watching. Savagery (10-1) finished 2nd in the Bob Hope (G3) and 4th in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (G1). Strong stretch runner Joel Rosario rides. Gray Magician (4-1) is well-bred and broke his maiden last start in November at Del Mar, rallying from five lengths back to win going away by more than 9 lengths. Flavien Prat rides in the colts stakes debut.
Race wagers and picks: Let’s call for Gunmetal Gray to win over the favorite Coliseum and long shot Sueno to be worth an in the money finish and vertical wagers.
The Sham Stakes is Race 9 on Saturday, Jan. 5 with post time at 7:04 ET and 4:04 local PT.