Calculator entered the $100,750 Sham Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 10 at Santa Anita Park still a maiden but left a stakes winner after posting a dominating 4 1/4-length victory over stablemate Rock Shandy (VIDEO).
The victory gave the 3-year-old colt 10 more points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, moving him into a second-place tie with Carpe Diem (both have 14 points). The top 20 point earners all get a berth in the starting gate for the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brand (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
El Kabeir tops the list with 21 points after taking last week's Jerome Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Calculator already earned four points for finishing second in the FrontRunner (gr. I) at Santa Anita Sept. 27, his final start of 2014. He was entered but scratched from the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 1.
In the Sham, Calculator raced wide throughout in the eight-horse field, as jockey Elvis Trujillo kept the 3-5 favorite out of trouble. When Trujillo asked on the 3-year-old son of In Summation , Calculator easily rallied from fifth to first to grab the lead turning for home, before drawing off to the powerful score.
"I was very concerned (about Calculator's wide trip), because it looked like five or six of them were sending, and I said, 'Oh, no. We're going to be 10-wide,' but he (Trujillo) saw the same thing and he adjusted and brought him back into maybe the three or four path," winning trainer Peter Miller said. "We had a wide trip, but there's less trouble out wide."
Calculator, who is owned by Richard C. Pell, was making his 3-year-old debut in the Sham after showing plenty of potential as a 2-year-old last year, although never winning a race from four starts.
After finishing third and fourth in his first two career starts last summer at Del Mar, Calculator finished second behind Eclipse Award finalist American Pharoah in both the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) Sept. 3 and the FrontRunner.
He was scratched on the morning of the Breeders' Cup with a sore foot, ending his 2014 season.
"I didn't expect him to be this good (today)," Miller said. "I was hoping he was good enough to win at 90% (fitness). The water gets deeper from here on out, so we're going to have to step up our game and move forward off of this one."
Calculator returned $3.20, $2.40, and $2.20 after running the mile in 1:34.88 on a fast track. He was bred in Florida by Ocala Stud out of the Alphabet Soup are Back to Basics.
Rock Shandy paid $10.60 to place and $5.40 to show, while Pioneerof the West returned $6 to show.
"It was a perfect trip," Trujillo said. "I went wide because I'd rather go wide than be in between horses, or caught inside. I wanted a clean trip. He did it very easy today. Stretching out will be no problem for him, he's very good."