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2011 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Sets Up Nicely For Derby Hopefuls

The Kentucky Derby Trail is in full swing and one of the most closely-watched California preps is, without a doubt, the Sham Stakes. This 1m½f contest doesn’t boast one of the highest purses for contenders looking to book a slot at the big dance, but the fact that this race has been a kingmaker for preps in April and March makes it an ideal destination for some of California’s most promising three year-olds.

The betting public will likely be eying up Clubhouse Ride (Candy Ride) who was a show in the Grade 1 Cashcall Futurity at Hollywood Park about a month ago. He drops down from the highest level having not scored in his past three attempts, boasting a lone ungraded stakes score in the Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex back in September. With Beyer figures in the mid-80s, he will definitely be taking some action but the fact remains that he’s only scored twice in ten attempts and has never won at two turns, he has simply run on pretty well to get up at the end. Taking on a lightly-raced group of promising maiden breakers presents a bigger risk for connections than it might initially appear and they will be hoping for a lightening fast early pace for him to aim at.

Uncle Sam (Tapit) is fresh off a first time maiden score at Santa Anita in a 1m contest that moved off the turf. He’ll likely try to get up to the front and challenge with Tapizar (Tapit) or Anthony’s Cross (Indian Charlie). The 77 Beyer puts him in the mix but looks like he might get collared unless he shows serious progression.

Anthony’s Cross broke his maiden at Churchill Downs by running up near the front for the first time. It will be interesting to see whether he is deployed similarly here, but the fact remains that he has the lowest Beyer average out of anybody in the field. There is a really solid reference from the September 4th race when he finished third to Astrology (A.P. Indy) and To Honor and Serve (Bernardini) at Saratoga. Both have gone on to win at graded level and could very well find themselves at Churchill on May 7th. He will be looking for improvement but he faces a tough task.

TAPIZAR will definitely be taking some money on the heels of a massive statement in his last race when he moved up to capture a 59K MSW at Churchill. He posted a whopping 89 Beyer to score by over 10 lengths in a race that boasted more quality than it might look like on paper. From a pedigree standpoint, the A.P. Indy/Deputy Minister cross has produced some absolute quality and this well-bred bay could be poised to make a major statement if he runs to his demonstrated potential. If he gets near what he showed in the last race he should capture this one.

Pride of Silver (Badge of Silver) was a $90,000 purchase at the Keeneland Spring Sale and he boasts a 221 record in his three career outings but the maiden score came at a miserly 38k while he was second best twice to 39k company. Consistent Beyers show that he’s an honest performer but the race in which he broke the maiden wasn’t really the classiest of contests. There is every chance that he will boast the highest price on the board – look for him to position himself on the outside to run on late at the quarter pole. 

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