Out of Bounds, a big colt with a big future, swept past odds-on favorite Secret Circle in the final couple of strides to capture the $100,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds by a half-length at Santa Anita Jan. 7 (VIDEO).
A Darley homebred, Out of Bounds is by Discreet Cat out of 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Unbridled Elaine (by Unbridled Song), the dam of multiple graded winner Etched .
Garrett Gomez rode the Kentucky bred to victory for trainer Eoin Harty, who described the handsome-looking chestnut as the "better part of 17 hands." Out of Bounds ran the one-mile distance in a solid 1:34.56 on a fast track.
After a late start to his career, Out of Bounds broke his maiden in style going seven furlongs in his second start Dec. 10 on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track. He was making his stakes and two-turn debut in the Sham and was dismissed at odds of 10-1.
“He’s a very big horse, but he’s a gentle giant," Harty said. "He’s come around mentally as well as physically, and sometimes it takes a while for both to catch up. Lucky this horse has the mental attributes as well as the physical attributes."
Harty earned his second win in the Sham following Colonel John in 2008. Colonel John went on to win the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) that year, and ran sixth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
The Sham is the first of three graded races on the Santa Anita calendar leading up to the Santa Anita Derby April 7. The 1 1/16-mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) is Feb. 4 and the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) also at 1 1/16 miles, is March 10. Harty said he wasn't sure which race Out of Bounds would be entered in next.
Gomez, who rode Out of Bounds for the first time, extended his streak of consecutive stakes victories at Santa Anita this meet to four. He has six stakes wins overall this meet.
The public could see only two contenders in the Sham. Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle, an undefeated son of Eddington trained by Harty's former boss, Bob Baffert, went off heavily favored at 1-2 odds. The Steve Asmussen-conditioned Hierro was 2-1 off an impressive maiden win at Churchill Downs Nov. 9.
Longview Drive, one of two stakes winners in the field of five, got the early lead on the outside of the fast-breaking Secret Circle and was able to angle to the inside for Joel Rosario. Longview Drive maintained about a one-length advantage over Secret Circle for a half-mile before Secret Circle closed the gap approaching the quarter-pole for Rafael Bejarano. Out of Bounds raced on the inside just behind the leaders for Gomez with Handsome Mike to their immediate outside. Quarter-mile fractions were solid -- :22.66, :45.89, 1:09.78.
Out of Bounds angled to the outside leaving the turn as Secret Circle put his head in front of Longview Drive. The two leaders battled head-and-head down the lane as Out of Bounds edged closer. Hierro, under urging from Julien Leaproux, loomed on the outside coming into the stretch as well, but was falling back as the first three pulled away. Under right-handed encouragement from Gomez, Out of Bounds reached equal terms with Secret Circle in deep stretch and proved best to the wire.
"He did everything really professional for a horse that’s only run a couple of times," said Gomez. "I was excited by his last couple races. He’s such a good-sized colt and I thought the two turns would really help him because he’s such a long-striding horse. It’s just a matter of getting him to understand how to do it the right way. I think he’s got enough ability to do it.
"When I first came off the turn I thought I was going to run right by the favorite, but this horse is just young enough to where he doesn’t quite understand everything about the game yet. I had to spank him a couple times to let him understand what I was wanting from him, and when I got into him a little bit he progressed and went forward.”
Secret Circle turned in a big effort in his first two-turn try, finishing a half-length in front of Longview Drive.
“He just got beat," Baffert said of Secret Circle. "He didn’t shut it down. He wasn’t exhausted when he came back, so it was a good experience for him. It was the first time he was able to rate off of horses. I think he got a lot out of it.”
Handsome Mike was 4 3/4 lengths farther back in fourth, followed by Hierro.
Out of Bounds, who races without Lasix, finished fourth in his debut at Santa Anita Oct. 22. His second win in three starts boosted his career bankroll to $89,700.
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, Out of Bounds paid $22.60, $5.80, $4.40 as the second-longest shot on the board. Secret Circle returned $2.80 and $2.10, and completed a $42.40 exacta. Longview Drive, sent off at odds of 14-1, paid $4 to show.
Senor Rain was scratched.