Memories of the immortal Secretariat will be resurrected Saturday at Santa Anita Park through the Sham Stakes, a race named after the Triple Crown winner’s fierce rival in the 1973 series. For the six starters, the one-mile stakes will offer a chance to pick up some valuable points toward a starting sot in the 2020 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve while showing how they can handle a two-turn distance.
1. Authentic (8-5): Given his connections, he might the real deal. He’s trained by Bob Baffert, who has already won the Sham five times, and is owned by partners who were also involved in Triple Crown winner Justify. He looked good winning his Nov. 9 debut as an odds-on favorite and will be tested by the two-turn distance. With his speed and the rail, he looks like the one to catch.
JOCKEY: Drayden Van Dyke TRAINER: Bob Baffert
2. Zimba Warrior (6-1): He will also be tackling two turns for the first time, though this will be his sixth start. He’s lacked a strong late kick in the majority of his starts but the slower pace in a two-turn race may help him. He was third last time out in the Bob Hope Stakes, a Grade 3, seven-furlong stakes at Del Mar Nov. 16.
JOCKEY: Jose Valdivia Jr. TRAINER: Keith Desormeaux
3. Uncaptured Hero (6-1): Comes off a tough battle in a maiden race, where he dueled for the lead throughout and prevailed by a head at the finish line. Unfortunately, that was in a $100,000 claimer at six furlongs, and this should be a formidable challenge.
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat TRAINER: Richard Baltas
4. Azul Coast (5-2): A second Bob Baffert starter, he’s also coming off a sharp maiden win in his debut, though he’s also one of only two starters with a win at the distance. That victory came at Los Alamitos by a comfortable four-length margin and he has the kind of pedigree that indicates two-turn races should not be a problem as he gets tested for class. Having Joel Rosario aboard is another bonus.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Bob Baffert
5. Scoring (15-1): Needed some help from a disqualification to break his maiden in his lone start back in June. Hasn’t raced since then, but he’s put in some solid workouts and was supplemented to the race, which are good signs. That win came at 4 ½ furlongs, which is worrisome, but his trainer, Doug O’Neill, has the kind of experience on this stage that he should not be ignored.
JOCKEY: Abel Cedillo TRAINER: Doug O’Neill
6. Taishan (5-2): Took quite a nice step forward in his second start. After failing to fire in his career debut at Del Mar, he came to life Nov. 3 in a one-mile test at Santa Anita, winning by a length while showing much more early speed. Earned a solid speed figure for that victory and should respond to the two-month freshening with another strong effort.
JOCKEY: Aaron Gryder TRAINER: Richard Baltas
THE PICK: Authentic
LIVE LONGSHOT: Scoring