The next stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby is the Sham Stakes, a one-mile, GR3 stakes race with a purse of $1,000,000. The race will take place at Santa Anita Park in California and will offer a 10-4-2 points split for derby hopefuls. The race will run Saturday, January 9th.
Three contenders will enter the 2016 Sham Stakes coming off of victories. Found Money just recently won the King George, and came on to the radar of early last year with a win at the Santa Anita Juvenile.
Dressed In Hermes is the likely favourite after a 5th place finish at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and a win at the Cecil B. DeMile Stakes.
I’malreadythere will also continue to search for his first stakes victory after a third place showing at the Los Alamitos Futurity, where he placed behind Mor Spirit and Toews On Ice. This could very well be a setting where I’malreadythere proves how competitive his spirit actually is.
Sorraboutnothing, who finished 7th at the Los Alamitos Futurity will also compete at the Sham Stakes this year. Rare Candy, Collected, Laoban and Semper Fortis round out the entrants.
Perhaps the most intriguing bet will be Lets Meet In Rio, who ran a strong 1:36.39 pace over a maiden mile at Los Alamitos. Lets Meet In Rio is trained by Bob Baffert, who has won three times at the Sham Stakes.
The Sham Stakes debuted in 2001 at a distance of 1 1/8 mile, a distance it maintained up until 2011 when it was shortened to 1 1/16. The following year, it was once again clipped to a mile. The Sham gained its GR3 status in 2006. The race takes its name from Sham, winner of the 1973 Santa Anita Derby and one of the main challengers to Secretariat.
Perhaps the most well known winner of the Sham Stakes is Goldencents, who won in 2013. The win would propel Goldencents to a Santa Anita Derby victory and in to the Triple Crown. He posted at Churchill Downs as the third-favourite but finished a disappointing seventh with a fifth place followup at the Preakness. Goldencents would bounce back at the Breeders’ Cup, winning the Dirt Mile in both 2013 and 2014.
Colonel John won the Sham Stakes in 2008, and would also go on to win the Santa Anita Derby. While he would end up 6th at the Kentucky Derby that year, he would also go on to win the Travers Stakes later in the summer.
If history is any precursor, the winner of the Sham Stakes may not be a true Triple Crown threat, but is worthy of tracking overall, especially in sprint distances. The 2015 Sham Stakes winner was Calculator, who had a promising career cut short by injury.