The Sham, at 1 1/8 miles, in recent years has proven to be a good early distance test for aspiring Derby hopefuls from California. A field of seven is set to go.
The Doug O'Neill-trained Liquidity, had taken the lead from eventual winner Stormello in the stretch of the Futurity and staged a terrific fight to the wire before giving in by a neck in the final couple of strides. Liquidity makes his fifth lifetime start in the Sham, making the son of Tiznow one of the more experienced members of the field.
Another is trainer Bob Baffert's multiple stakes winner Pirates Deputy, who won the California Breeders' Champion Stakes for state breds on opening day at Santa Anita Dec. 26 and will now try an extra quarter-mile in the Sham. Baffert hopes to get the big Bertrando gelding going on the classic trail for owners Lanni Family Trust and Schiappa. Pirates Deputy has a 2-4-1 record in seven starts and earnings of $386,462.
But many will be watching the dramatic maiden winner Ravel in this year's Sham.
A son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus , Ravel broke his maiden at Hollywood Park in December while running 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 4/5. The time was faster than Stormello ran winning the Hollywood Futurity over the Cushion Track.
“Any horse that breaks his maiden the way this one did, you think big things,” said Michael McCarthy, local assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “This race will tell us a lot.”
Leading rider Garrett Gomez takes the call on Ravel after guiding Pirates Deputy last time.
$100,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III, Race 7, 3 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 MIles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Ravel (KY), 118, Garrett K. Gomez
2. Pirates Deputy (CA), 122, Victor Espinoza
3. Time Squared (NY), 118, Julien R. Leparoux
4. Silent Soul (KY), 118, Richard Migliore
5. Song of Navarone (KY), 118, Jon K. Court
6. Liquidity (KY), 118, Corey S. Nakatani
7. Kolo (KY), 122, Jose Valdivia, Jr.