California's road to the 2020 Triple Crown begins Saturday at Santa Anita with the running of the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, a mile test for youngsters that just turned 3 years old and offering 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third-place finisher and one to the fourth.
Richard Baltas has two entered, Stackin Silver and Taishan, each making his stakes debut going for the $60,000 winner's share from a guaranteed purse of $100,000.
“I'm not concerned that Taishan is stepping up,” Baltas said of the bay son of Twirling Candy who broke his maiden going a mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3 for owners Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran. “It was his first time going long and he won and got a good number (81 Beyer).”
“He's trained really well since then, he's had a bunch of time between races and I think he'll give a good account of himself.”
Stackin Silver comes off a 5 ¼-length maiden win against $50,000 claimers going a mile at Del Mar last Nov. 15. The son of Union Rags owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Jerry McClanahan and Michael Nentwig retains the services of Abel Cedillo, who rode him in his two previous starts.
Bob Baffert, a winner of five Kentucky Derbies and a pair of Triple Crowns, holds a strong two-card hand in the Sham with Authentic and Azul Coast. Authentic, owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stable, LLC, pressed the pace and drew off to a 1 ½ length tally in his 5 ½ furlong debut at Del Mar on Nov. 9 as an odds-on favorite. A Kentucky-bred colt by Into Mischief, out of the Mr. Greeley mare Flawless, Authentic earned a Sham-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure and has trained in impressive fashion for his second start on Saturday.
Azul Coast aired by four lengths for Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman on an off track in his one mile debut at Los Alamitos on Dec. 8 while off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of seven. Out of the Maria's Mon mare Sky Treasure, Azul Coast gets the services of Joel Rosario as Drayden Van Dyke will ride Authentic back for a second time. Although he was a handy winner, Azul Coast earned a 75 Beyer and will likely go as the second choice in the Sham.
Honor A.P., who would have been one of the Sham favorites, if not the favorite based on his 5 ¼-length maiden win at a mile here last Oct. 13, will miss the race named for the 1973 Santa Anita Derby winner who chased Secretariat in that year's Triple Crown.
“He galloped well, then when he came back from his schooling he was off in his right front,” trainer John Shirreffs explained. “X-rays were OK so we'll just have to wait and see.”
G3 SHAM STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 5 of 10 Approximate post time 1:30 p.m. PT
- Authentic—Drayden Van Dyke—120
- Zimba Warrior—Jose Valdivia, Jr.—120
- Uncaptured Hero—Flavien Prat—120
- Azul Coast—Joel Rosario—120
- Scoring—Abel Cedillo—120
- Taishan—Aaron Gryder—120
Special early first post time for a 10-race program on Saturday is at 11:30 a.m. Admission gates will open at 9:30 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
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