Wild And Wise wore down Swordfish in the final furlong and edged clear for a half-length victory Friday in the $96,750 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Park.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza at 117 pounds, Wild And Wise ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.51 on a fast main track and paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.20. Bob Baffert trains the winner for Golden Eagle Farm.
Swordfish, David Flores riding at 116 pounds, took the lead from Unbridled Time entering the stretch, resisted gamely when headed by Wild And Wise, but couldn't keep up with the winner in the final eighth of a mile. Swordfish returned $4.20 and $4.20.
Special Times, Gary Stevens up at 116 pounds, closed with a rush to finish third. Special Times raced coupled in the wagering with Wild And Wise and also paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.20.
Unbridled Time, who set the pace through fractions of :22.74, :46.52 and 1:11.24, finished fourth, and was followed by Golden Ticket and Dim Sums.
A California-bred colt by Avenue of Flags, Wild And Wise has won three straight races and has an overall record of 3-1-0 from five starts. The $60,750 winner's share increased his earnings to $124,900.
Wild And Wise is one of several promising 3-year-olds in Baffert's care. The trainer said the colt is talented but still needs improvement mentally.
"He may be a rogue but he can run," Baffert said. "This horse, you really have to work with him."
Wild And Wise, positioned forwardly behind Unbridled Time and Swordfish, appeared ready to win the race easily. As soon as Swordfish passed Unbridled Time at the head of the stretch, Espinoza made his move on Wild And Wise.
"Mentally, he's a little confused," Espinoza said. "I thought when I asked him to run he was just going to blow the other horse away. But he tricked me. When we turned for home, I switched my stick to the left hand and as soon as I touched him, he wanted to make a right turn. I instinctively grabbed him and straightened him out. He's still learning."