Image for Brian Zipse Brian Zipse - October 14, 2022

Sham Stakes (Santa Anita) Predictions, Odds & Picks

Sham Stakes Santa Anita 2021
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Life is Good (3/5)

Brian Zipse

Post Position and Odds – Sham Stakes

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
A Cedillo B Baffert
U Rispoli J Shirreffs
D Van Dyke J Shirreffs
F Prat A Lerner
M Smith B Baffert

Best Bets for the Sham Stakes

Here are my plays ($40 in total)

$40 Exacta – Life is Good over Parnelli = $40

Top Pick:

Life is Good (3/5)

Life Is Good, who won his only start by an eye-catching 9 ½ lengths, looks to be heavily favored as he makes his stakes debut and heads a field of five 3-year-olds in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Into Mischief will stretch out to a flat mile as he looks to validate all the buzz that surrounded his flashy 6 ½ furlong debut. His trainer won this race last year with another colt by the same sire, as Authentic began his Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winning season with a victory in the Sham.

Chief among his opponents in the early Kentucky Derby prep will be stablemate Medina Spirit, who also looked good in winning his debut, scoring by 3 lengths at Los Alamitos on December 11.

Parnelli, from the barn of John Shirreffs, looks to be the biggest obstacle to Team Baffert on Saturday. The son of Quality Road is already well tested at one mile, having finished a close second to two nice horses at the distance, before breaking through with an impressive maiden score at Del Mar last time.

Named in honor of Secretariat’s top rival, and the winner of the 1973 Santa Anita Derby, the Sham will offer Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a scale of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.

How to Watch the Sham Stakes

Sham Stakes  Information
What Sham Stakes (Grade 3)
Where Santa Anita
When Saturday, January 2 — 7:00 pm Eastern Time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $100,000

Race Analysis

Life is Good

There is a good reason there has been so much talk about this son of Into Mischief. Purchased as a Keeneland September Yearling for $525,000, he raced to the lead effortlessly in his November 22 career debut at Del Mar. Blazing early fractions seemed to have little effect as he poured it on down the stretch to win as impressively as any juvenile to race in 2020. Hammered home to odds of 1-5 for his debut, look for him to be bet big once again as he steps up in both class and distance on Saturday. I generally try to beat heavy favorites with questions to answer, but not this one. I think he is the real deal and a very likely winner of the Sham.

Medina Spirit

A workmate of Life is Good, he must have found his debut race at Los Alamitos a welcome relief from facing the favorite in the morning. It actually was a very impressive win as he sped home in a snappy 1:02.93 for the 5 ½ furlongs. With only that experience from three weeks ago, he now moves into the big time as he faces his talented stablemate among others in the Sham. A smooth striding son of the young stallion Protonico, the ‘other Baffert’ may very well be a horse with a future, but this spot would seem to be a lot to ask so short into his racing career.


A $500,000 Keeneland September Yearling, this colt by Quality Road is clearly on the improvement. Second, in his career debut in September, he came back with a pair of narrow misses in two more maiden races, but both of the horses who edged him out, Hot Rod Charlie and Spielberg, went on to run very well in graded stakes. He finally got over the hump last time when he rolled home to a visually impressive 5 ¾ length maiden win at Del Mar.  As talented as Life is Good is, I cannot pick this one to win, but with three very good races at a mile already under his belt, I like him strongly to run second behind the favorite.


Like the other Shirreffs-trained runner in the field, he also broke his maiden going a mile at Del Mar, but unlike Parnelli, his win came back in the summer. In his next start, he finished fourth in the Grade 1 American Pharoah, although a well-beaten one at that.  Coming back for his first race in better than three months, the son of Union Rags will need to show improvement to make a serious dent in this field. Perhaps maturity will help, but I like his stablemate better.

Uncle Boogie

This son of young sire Ride on Curlin has come a long way since starting his career in maiden claiming. He romped in that debut back in October and has since accounted for himself well with runner-up finishes in two subsequent starts. He also showed a new dimension last time, rallying well in the stretch to get up for second in the Bob Hope. Still, he didn’t get all that close that afternoon and now faces even better on Saturday. It would seem a tough spot for the talented longshot.

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Brian Zipse

219 Articles

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.

Email: [email protected]

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