Year. Now, let the 3-yr-old season begin. The trail to the 2013 Kentucky Derby
begins on Saturday when we head back to California, the same place that was the
location for a pair of big time Juvenile wins. The biggest difference between
those races and the Grade 3 Sham Stakes is that this field will not include any
horse that is trained by Todd Pletcher.
to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the FrontRunner Stakes was the only California
circuit race included in the new qualification system. The result didn’t come
as much of surprise when three California circuit horses secured their spots in
the top 3 (Power Broker, Know More, Capo Bastone). But, that would be the end of
the California kids leading the way since Todd Pletcher had other ideas.
In from New
York Shanghai Bobby arrived at Santa Anita for the BC Juvenile, a race that
would decide how much talent he really had. After a stretch duel for the ages he
proved that he had more than enough and that the undefeated show would go on.
But Todd Pletcher wasn’t finished yet. In the final qualifying race of the 2012
season he shipped another horse out west for the very first time. And in the end he
came away with the same exact result when Violence got the best of the West
Coast contenders in the G1 CashCall Futurity.
good news for our 2013 Sham Stakes field that Todd Pletcher is out and even
more good news that no one in the field has yet to make a start on the
California Racing Cicuit. Instead, our field features a field of six horses
with California connections and appear to be ready to kick start the New Year
with a strong move in the right direction; the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.
field is Goldencents, currently ranked in 2nd place on the Kentucky Derby leader board with 14 points. Trained by Doug O’Neill by Into Mischief - Golden Works, he
will be making his first start since becoming the impressive winner of the G3 Delta Jackpot on November 17. Although Goldencents made his name outside of the
Golden State his career still began at Del Mar. It was there that he wasted
little time getting on the path to bigger and better things when he romped home
to a 7 length victory in his debut MSW race at 5 ½ Furlongs. The win was so
impressive it convinced Doug O’Neill to set him up for a graded stakes showdown
against the most talked about Juvenile in the land; Shanghai Bobby.
proved to be no match for the eventual BC Juvenile Champion in the G2 Champagne Stakes the seeds were planted and it would only be a matter of time before
Goldencents would enter the winners circle against graded stakes competition.
As it turned out it didn’t take long as the healthy looking bay colt proved to
be much the best in the Jackpot Stakes at Delta Downs. Owned by Rick Pitino’s
RAP Racing, WC Racing or Kenney, Goldencents has been training at Santa Anita
since. In his most recent work the colt showed that he is continuing to progress
when he clocked the fastest 6F work of the day on December 27 - 1:10.20. Regular
rider Kevin Krigger is scheduled to return to the irons for the fourth time in
this the colt’s fourth lifetime race.
to see this Doug O’Neill colt return for the 3-yr-old season. The new Kentucky
Derby qualification system has been met with a lot of skepticism but one thing
that everyone seems to agree with is the elimination of the overvalued Juvenile
races. In years past Goldencents would be sitting pretty with $680,000 of graded
stakes earnings but now he only has 10 points and more racing ahead of him. There
is still a long way to go for this dynamic team but I think they are on the
right track because so far, Goldencents has shown the look of a derby
will send out a pair of capable colts in the Sham, Den’s Legacy and Manando.
Den’s Legacy has a resume of races against very deep fields and a record that improved
considerably since finishing 5th in the FrontRunner Stakes, his first
graded stakes race. From there he notched back to back 2nd place
finishes on the turf in the Zuma Beach Stakes and BC Juvenile Turf Sprint Preview
before scoring in the G3 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park. The victory led to
a strong effort and 3rd place finish from well off the pace in the G1
CashCall Futurity. Although it puts him near the bottom of the leader board the
3 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for that effort may come in handy down the
question surrounding this colt by Medaglia d'Oro - Sunshine Song is how well
will he respond to racing on the dirt. This will be his first time since the
FrontRunner Stakes in September but his recent workouts over the dirt do
indicate that he may be ready - 4F, 46.40, Rank 1/76. As for Manando, he has
much more to prove as this will be his first Graded Stakes Race. Prior it took
him four MSW races before notching the win over a distance of 1 1/16 and
winning time of 1:44.05 on the All Weather Track at Hollywood. He has a lot to demonstrate
before he can get our derby contender attention but it’s probably not wise to
throw him out without giving him a good look.
A horse in
the same boat as Manado is Greeley Awesome. What I don’t like about Doug O’Neill’s
second entry is how long it has taken him to develop his first win. In his
seventh try he got it but it was also his third consecutive Maiden Claiming
race. Doug O’Neill could very easily show me what he sees in this horse that I do
not but until then I’ll probably have to remain unconvinced.
out the field are two horses that are graded stakes tested but still searching
for their first graded stakes win. Based on victories alone the better of the
two is Dry Summer, winner of the Oak Tree Juvenile Stakes where he got up late
to beat Power Broker by a neck. He hasn’t fared so well since then but his last
two races can be quickly forgotten with a nice effort in the Sham. As for Dirty Swagg he’s in need of a big jump as he has yet to hit the board in three graded
short history of the Sham Stakes, Giacomo is the only entry to have ever gone
on and win the Kentucky Derby. In the 2005 edition he finished third before
moving on to two other California Preps, the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby.
Of the connections entered on Saturday, Bob Baffert is the only Trainer to have
scored. Winner of the inaugural Sham Stakes with Wild and Wise, Bob Baffert returned
to the winners circle with Bob and John in 2006. As for the riders Garrett
Gomez is the only jockey to have won the Sham. If he scores again on Saturday it
will be his third consecutive win and record breaking 5th all time.
And so the 3-yr-old
season and excitement begins. The road to the first Saturday in May is longer
than the amount of days it will take to get there but we have to start
somewhere in the New Year. And that place is the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita
Park - Welcome Back!