The Grade III Sham Stakes is run at a flat mile for newly turned three year-olds at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. In its 15th year, the race is a Kentucky Derby qualifying race with a purse of $100,000 (60% to the winner, 20% to second, 10% to third, the remainder to 4th through 6th).
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A competitive race for newly turned three year-olds, we have provided commentary for our top three choices.
St Joe Bay (8-1)
Competitive in his last two starts against Grade III two-year olds, St. Joe Bay is one of three runners moving from turf to dirt. He draws the inside rail with a jockey that only knows one way to the finish line, and that's on the lead.
His Pace Figures are interesting as he is the only runner to have a win at this distance at Santa Anita on 10/17/14 when he went 72.5/75.7. His next start was an NPT (New Pace Top - fastest 4f lifetime with a competitive final figure), but because he switched surfaces in his next start, it becomes a DPT (Delayed Pace Top - exactly the same as an NPT but with a grass race in between). His last out grass effort was a 71.6/65.9 which is not considered a REV pattern as it was on grass. However this solid effort on turf supports the prior DPT as a pattern from which we can expect a forward move. His internal figures show an ability to get out of the gate but Form Cycle Pattern shows a runner who might like to stalk, and, with the 2f and 4f figures of Rockinatten he could sit on that one's quick pace and be well spotted.
The Play: Contender - DPT combined with good grass effort and reasonable race makes him a value play at 8-1 morning-line.
The leading money winner in the field, Calculator assumes a distinctive role as a both a maiden and favorite. His last two races were against Grade I competition both won by American Pharaoh
, the even money favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (2YO), before he was scratched the day before the race. Jockey Elvis Trujillo stays aboard though he hasn't run in 105 days, the biggest cap of all the runners in the field.
Calculator has an interesting Pace Figure line. His final figure has improved every start accompanied by a Form Cycle Pattern. Though his first three starts were on the Del Mar synthetic surface, his last effort was over this same Santa Anita dirt surface where he put up a 75.1/69.3 Reversal (REV) Form Cycle Pattern. This final figure is the highest last out as well as the highest on dirt of all the runners. Adding to his intrigue is the bullet work of 1:11 3/5ths on 1/4/15, a faster 6f effort than most of the field ran their last race.
The Play: Fringe Contender - lots to like with his graded stakes experience and fastest last final figure, but its tough to back a maiden against winners at an 8-5 morning-line on top.
Hero Ten All (4-1)
The only runner with just two starts, Hero Ten All makes the big jump from Maiden competition to Graded Stakes company. And, while none of the dams (mom's) are thrilling in terms of their offsprings' racing record, his mom Silky Smooth was the best runner of all the dams (but she has two on the track that combined have one win in 14 starts.
What is really likeable about Hero Ten All are his Pace Figures. His first start lifetime was at Santa Anita where he ran a 69.8/72.9 Compression (COMP) Form Cycle Pattern. He took the ideal 35 days off and came back with an impressive closing win (on a speed favoring race course) putting up a 74/71.8 Reversal (REV) Form Cycle Pattern. The REV pattern indicates the first time a runner has a faster final figure than 4f figure - it's a strong indicator of forward progress especially with younger horses stretching out.
The Play: Contender - he breaks slow and will be coming strong from behind, and with a couple horses that do like to go fast early, the race could set up nicely.