This weekend, California begins it Kentucky Derby prep
program with the Sham Stakes. While a Derby winner has yet to emerge from this particular
prep, the race has unveiled some very exciting performances. Last year, Tapizar
ran away from his foes in this spot, but was injured in his next start. The
Pamplemousse, also made his initial mark here, and came dangerously close to
making the Derby, but was also injured just before his final prep. Colonel John
was your most recent horse to make it to the Derby and also your best place
horse, finishing sixth. However he did win the Santa Anita Derby before and the
Travers Stakes after the Kentucky Derby.
The 2012 edition of the Sham is highly anticipated because
of the three year old debut of one horse, Secret Circle. The race will not only
mark his 2012 debut, but his first try beyond the sprint distance of six furlongs. To date, the
son of Eddington has started three times, all very impressive, all at the six
furlong distance. Pedigree suggests distance, but a speed burning running style
More questions were probably raised during the Breeders Cup
Juvenile Sprint, where the colt bulled through blistering opening fractions,
but slowed down late, nearly getting caught by the European invader Shumoos.
However, one has to be realistic. There is a very little chance of any horse
trying to go a 20 and change opening quarter in a mile race, and for the
record, that type of fraction is almost never seen in racing. What impresses me
even more is that the fraction didn’t come over a super souped track, but over
a track that had endured buckets of rain earlier that week. At a mile distance,
over a much firmer dirt course, one can expect that Secret Circle have an
easier time maintaining his speed, than he did at Churchill.
Another point to be noticed is that trainer Bob Baffert has
been letting him loose during the mornings. Since he moved to Santa Anita,
Secret Circle has had two six furlong bullets, one in an eye popping 1.10.8.
This colt is in tip-top shape coming into this race, there can be no doubt
However, though Secret Circle is the one gaining all the
headlines, one cannot simply over look impressive maiden winner Hierro, who
broke his maiden at Churchill by over five lengths. The son of three time
Classic placed Hard Spun, is trained by Steve Asmussen, who also brought
Tapizar up for a win here, only a year ago. He too has been working like a
monster, working 59.8, 1.12.2, and 47.6 in his last three works.
Another impressiving looking colt is Out of Bounds, trained
by Eoin Harty. Sired by Discreet Cat, one would be right to suspect that this
one may have some distance limitations, but Discreet Cat himself was quite the
miler, the distance of this year’s Sham. This one should be sitting back off
the pace, so if a duel were to unfold, that proved too much for Secret Circle,
there is a good shot Out of Bounds could pick up the pieces.
As you can tell, the field that is lined up for this year’s
Sham is by no means short of talent, with many possible finishes. Who among us
believes that Secret Circle will strike again with a dominating win, before
blowing away the entire Santa Anita prep series? Who thinks Hierro has just
found his best stride and will use the Sham as his launching pad? Come on, let’s
get some conversations rolling about the beginning of the trail leading to the