Action This Day, last year's 2-year-old champion, makes his long-awaited return in Sunday's nine-furlong Sham Stakes. Trained by Richard Mandella, Action This Day will face six opponents, including promising Derby hopefuls trained by Bob Baffert and Bobby Frankel.
Action This Day, owned by B. Wayne Hughes, had originally been scheduled to run in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) on Jan. 17, but Mandella felt he didn't have the son of Kris S. where he wanted him and decided to wait for the Sham. Since Jan. 11, Action This Day has had a sharp five-furlong work, two seven-furlong works in 1:25 and change, and a mile work in 1:37 4/5. He blew out three-eighths in :35 3/5 on Thursday. He drew post 7 and will be ridden by regular rider David Flores.
The Sham has taken on greater importance the last couple of years, serving as a springboard to the classics for last year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) runner-up Empire Maker, trained by Frankel. This year, Frankel hopes to launch a successful Triple Crown campaign with Master David, who came the the U.S. from England in November and finished a fast-closing second to Read the Footnotes in the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes (gr. II). After being turned over to Frankel by Peter Minikes and co-owners Stephen Mack and Andrew Rosen, the son of Grand Slam finished a solid third in the Santa Catalina. Frankel expects big improvement, and will instruct jockey Alex Solis to just sit on him and make one run.
Baffert will saddle Preachinatthebar, a fast-closing fourth in the Santa Catalina, beaten in photo for third by Master David. The son of Silver Charm
had to go wide at the head of the stretch and closed well out in the middle of the track. In his previous start, he broke his maiden by 2 1/2 lengths going 1 1/16 miles. Since the Santa Catalina, he drilled a half in :46 2/5, then worked an easy five furlongs in 1:02 on Feb. 2. Gary Stevens gets the mount.
Another top prospect is Borrego, trained by Beau Greely, who made his career debut on the dirt in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on Dec. 27 and turned in a big effort to defeat Dwango by 1 1/2 lengths. The son of El Prado
drew the rail and will be ridden by Tyler Baze, who guided him to victory last time out.
Also entered in the Sham are True Contender (Corey Nakatani), sixth in the Gold Rush Stakes; Gethsemani (Victor Espinoza), third in the San Miguel Stakes (gr. III); and Winner From Mars (Kent Desormeaux), undefeated in two grass starts.
The field for the Sham, in post position order:
1 -- Borrego, Tyler Baze, 120
2 -- True Contender, Corey Nakatani, 115
3 -- Gethsemani, Victor Espinoza, 115
4 -- Master David, Alex Solis, 115
5 -- Winner From Mars, Kent Desormeaux, 120
6 -- Preachinatthebar, Gary Stevens, 115
7 -- Action This Day, David Flores, 123