Sham Stakes Predictions, Betting Odds, Top Picks (Santa Anita)
Sham Stakes Post Position and Odds
|J J Hernandez||M Puype|
|2||OVIATT CLASS||6/1 |
|K Desormeaux||B Cecil|
|J Velazquez||B Baffert|
|F Prat||B Baffert|
|5||DEGREE OF RISK||8/1 |
|U Rispoli||R Mandella|
Best Bets for the Sham Stakes
Here are my plays ($40 in total)
$20 Exacta part wheel – Newgrange over Rockefeller and Mackinnon = $40
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Newgrange (2/1)
The Bob Baffert-trained duo of Rockefeller and Newgrange headline a compact field of five Kentucky Derby hopefuls set for Saturday’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.
Rockefeller is the most likely favorite. Last out, the son of Medaglia d’Oro shipped east and scored an easy victory in the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes at Belmont Park. The winner of 2-of-3 lifetime suffered his only career loss at the hands of the likely Eclipse Award winner, Corniche.
Newgrange, meanwhile, has only run once, but the son of Violence made a positive impression with a sharp score at Del Mar in a 6-furlong sprint. The $125,000 yearling purchase is out of the unraced Empire Maker mare Bella Chianti.
If anyone can stop Baffert from adding another Sham Stakes victory to his resume, the two-time stakes winner Mackinnon probably rates the best shot. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the chestnut will try the main track for the first time since a fourth-place finish going 4 ½ furlongs in his career debut back on May 9. On the turf, he has become one of the best juveniles in the nation and most recently finished a solid third while rallying in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
The one-mile Sham will offer qualifying points towards the 2022 Kentucky Derby on a 10-4-2-1 scale for the top four finishers.
Sham Stakes Analysis
The only graded stakes winner in the field is likely to be the favorite in this short field for the Sham. After breaking his maiden first time out for trainer Bob Baffert, the son of Medaglia d’Oro could not keep up with his talented stablemate Corniche in the Grade 1 American Pharoah. While that one went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, this guy went east and easily handled a suspect field in the Grade 3 Nashua. Now he returns to his home base and faces another small field, but this one looks to have more teeth than what he saw at Belmont Park. While he is the most proven horse on dirt in the field, I believe both his stablemate, Newgrange, and Mackinnon have a real good shot to beat him here. An obvious threat, I am siding with another.
The second from the Baffert barn, this son of Violence should appreciate the stretch out to a mile, after breaking his maiden in a fast 6 furlong race five weeks ago. His broodmare sire Empire Maker was a winner of the 12 furlong Belmont Stakes. In his debut, he contested fast fractions, before taking command at the top of the stretch. He also defeated a highly regarded runner in there named Got Thunder. With the short field, there is not likely to be too much pace in here, and I think he can get the jump on his stablemate Rockefeller early. If so, he will have a real shot to take this field all the way around. He is the top pick.
He will work the turf to dirt angle on Saturday, and if he can bring the kind of form he has been displaying on the grass, to the main track, he will have a big shot to upset the favored Baffert pair. A son of the Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, he has made steady improvement since debuting with a fourth-place finish on the dirt. The improvement has all come on the lawn, though, with three wins, a second, and a third in his last five starts. While dirt is a question, he’s well versed at the one-mile distance, where he broke his maiden and competed well in three straight stakes opportunities. After rolling through two listed stakes in Southern California, he turned in a fine performance to get up for third against top competition in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. There is a lot to like with this one.
The only horse in the field to have run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he did not have the best of trips and never got involved. Having said that, he did pass more than half the field on the way to a fifth-place finish behind the winner Corniche. This field is a little easier, but his lack of early speed in the small field likely puts him at a disadvantage. Still, he has some proven class, exiting two straight Grade 1 races, and if they set a solid and contested early pace, he should be able to make up some real ground in the stretch. I like others better, but he certainly is good enough to rally up for a place in the exotics for the trainer-jockey team of Keith and Kent Desormeaux.
Degree of Risk
This son of Cairo Prince has some similarities with Mackinnon, as he will switch to dirt for the Sham after finding some success on other surfaces. In fact, he has never raced on the dirt, with three races on turf and three races on synthetic surfaces. He’s only won a maiden race at Arlington Park so far, but has been competitive in four straight stakes races since that victory in his second career start. While the form of Mackinnon is better, this one has done enough in those stakes races to consider, if he takes to dirt. His breeding says the switch to the main track will not hurt him. He’s in with a chance.
How to Watch the Sham Stakes
|Sham Stakes Race Information|
|What||Sham Stakes (Grade 3)|
|Time||Saturday, January 1 — 7:00pm Eastern time|
|How to Watch||TVG|
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Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
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