With the postponement of the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day due to winter weather, Santa Anita Park’s $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) will be the first Kentucky Derby points race of 2018 when it is run on Saturday.
The one-mile contest attracted a field of seven newly turned sophomores, including undefeated McKinzie.
The Bob Baffert trainee returns to the track over which he captured his maiden debut on October 28 by 5 1/2 lengths. McKinzie earned a 100 BRIS Speed rating for the easy score, and duplicated that effort and number when finishing second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) on December 9. Though three parts of a length behind Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Solomini on the wire of the Futurity, McKinzie was awarded the win via disqualification of his stablemate to bring his record to a perfect two-for-two.
The bay son of Street Sense cuts back to a mile off the 1 1/16-mile Futurity, and keeps jockey Mike Smith in the irons as he goes for his first win of the year.
Fellow Baffert trainee Mourinho will be getting blinkers added in an effort to help the bay colt return to the winner’s circle in this spot. The Super Saver sophomore broke his maiden by 4 1/2 lengths first out going six furlongs on September 30 at Santa Anita, then filled the second spot in the Speakeasy Stakes just two weeks later.
Given a slightly longer break, the Kentucky-bred returned November 11 at Del Mar in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3), where he finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Greyvitos, who closed out 2017 with a 2 1/4-length score in the Remington Springboard Mile on December 17.
Mourinho had Drayden Van Dyke holding the reins for his maiden win and the Bob Hope, and that rider stays aboard for this contest.
My Boy Jack will be trying the main track in this spot for the first time since running sixth in his maiden debut at Santa Anita last June. The Keith Desormeaux charge moved to the turf for his last five outings, stringing together a trio of runner-up efforts, including the September 3 Del Mar Juvenile Turf, before breaking through with a first victory in the Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita on October 9.
That was good enough for the Creative Cause colt to get in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last out back at Del Mar, and he rallied to be seventh despite jockey Kent Desormeaux losing the whip. My Boy Jack was only beat three lengths that day and will try to transfer his form to the dirt here with Desormeaux retaining the mount.
Shivermetimbers earned his first career score by a head in a one-mile maiden last out on November 23 at Del Mar. It was the third start for the Jerry Hollendorfer pupil following a pair of third-place runs sprinting at Santa Anita, one of which came in McKinzie’s maiden. The dark bay son of Shanghai Bobby faces winners and gets Flavien Prat aboard for the first time in this spot.
City Plan is a well-beaten winner from the barn of trainer Eoin Harty. The Street Sense colt was defeated 17 lengths when sixth in his maiden bow at Del Mar last August 20, returned 2 1/2 weeks later to earn a head score in a Los Alamitos maiden going a mile, then was no factor when 26 lengths behind in seventh in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) three weeks after that. The bay colt tried Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic Tapeta next out on December 2 and recorded a three-quarter length victory under returning rider Tyler Conner.
Here is Happy is another who could either upset this contest or get beat by double-digit lengths. The Craig Lewis trainee took his debut against maiden claimers at Del Mar in late August, then was fifth in the Barretts Juvenile Stakes behind Grade 2 hero Run Away at Los Alamitos in September. Here is Happy returned to be third in the Speakeasy, beaten two lengths by Mourinho, but then was last of six in the Bob Hope most recently. Joe Talamo has been aboard for all of the Tale of Ekati colt’s starts and stays in the irons here.
Completing the Sham field is All Out Blitz, who broke his maiden by a nose in his third try most recently at Los Alamitos. The Simon Callaghan pupil was fifth in his racing debut at Santa Anita and then third in a similar maiden at Del Mar a month later. Tyler Baze has the call.
Two races later, 10 runners will line up in the $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes (G2) going nine furlongs on the turf.
Multiple Grade 2 conqueror Itsinthepost starts his six-year-old campaign in this spot for trainer Jeff Mullins. The French-bred gelding exits a seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar on November 4, which followed a head victory in the John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. Itsinthepost and regular rider Tyler Baze will attempt to go one spot better than their second in this same event last year.
Also entered are 2016 San Gabriel winner Flamboyant, who was third in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) and Canadian International (Can-G1) in his past two; He Will, a nose second in the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) most recently; and Editore, last-out winner of the Berkeley Handicap (G3).