Saturday's Grade 3 Sham Stakes drew what can only be described as a disappointing field of just five colts for the 1 1/16th mile. And while the Sham isn't really considered a key race on the road to the Kentucky Derby, it does provide an opportunity for colts to gain some valuable experience racing around two-turns prior to the more lucrative prep races later on.
The 2011 version of the Sham will be the 11th in the race's history and has included among it's winners Derby starters Colonel John and Bob and John. Last year Alphie's Bet won the race after it was washed away during the early meet drainage issues.
Below are the entries and post positions for Saturday's Grade 3 Sham Stakes:
1-Clubhouse Ride: Ran ten times as a juvenile, winning twice; he's tried graded stakes races his last two times out (G3 Delta Jackpot and G1 CashCall Futurity) and finished in the show spot both times. This is another Candy Ride (ARG) colt owned by Jenny Craig, along with Sidney's Candy and Twirling Candy (Sidney's Candy is entered in the eighth race, the Grade 2 San Fernando). Considering the success Sidney's Candy and Twirling Candy on turf and synthetics, and taking into account that Clubhouse Ride really has shown a ton on either synthetics or dirt, if this colt's next outing might take place on the lawn.
2-Uncle Sam: Just a single race under his belt but it was a decent one, a 2 ¾ length win against Maiden Special Weights in an off-the-turf race back on December 27th. Bob Baffert is off to a scorching start at Santa Anita this winter (13 winners, 46%, $2.78 ROI)...almost half his starters have won and he's still posting a solid ROI. And that's not all due to one or two bombs; Baffert is consistently winning with favorites and mid-shots with a few 10+ horses thrown in for good effort. Uncle Sam has only a single race under his belt but he's got to be considered a threat given Baffert's hot hand.
3-Anthony's Cross: A son of Indian Charlie that broke through for his initial maiden score in early November at Churchill. His first three career starts saw him use a deep closing style but his most recent effort, and his only win, saw him engage in a pace duel on the front end during the entire 8 ½ furlongs. Trainer Eoin Harty did not put the blinkers on him in that last start so the new found speed came from something else; maybe the switch to Borel or just a surface the colt preferred. Either way, it's a bit of a guess as to whether he'll show that much speed again or whether he'll revert back to dawdling at the back of the pack.
4-Tapizar: I think it's safe to assume that Tapizar will be the heavy favorite in this race after he completely destroyed a field of twelve maiden specials at Churchill back on November 27th. It's always a bit challenging to figure out the depth of the competition in a big maiden breaking score and this race is no exception. The third place horse, Adulare, came back to win a maiden special at Calder on January 2nd. None of the other ten horses have yet to break their maiden and only four have actually run a race since the Tapizar blowout.
5-Pride of Silver: Another colt that is jumping into graded stakes company right after breaking his maiden; Pride of Silver notched his lone win at Hollywood Park on December 17th. This will be his first start over a conventional dirt surface. The workout tab is a bit light for my tastes - he worked ten days after his maiden win (December 27th) and then put in a six furlong drill on January 7th, eleven days later. I'm a bit concerned that he might not be up to snuff from a conditioning perspective.