Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Nomination Is In: The Grade 3 Sham Stakes (10 Point Derby Prep) at Santa Anita

Happy New Year from the Turk and his little buddy, the aptly named Little Turk.

New Year's always brings to me renewed purpose. As it relates to horse racing, I wipe away what I thought was a ho-hum race season and hope for better this year. This is always a time of discovery for me as well: I pay almost no attention to 2 YO racing and I like being introduced to the 400 or so horses that will be eventually nominated for the Triple Crown Races. The Turk however doesn't live under a rock and I know a few of the names, like the Delta Jackpot winner Goldencents running today in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, but I really know nothing about this group of horses at all. Honestly, I think it helps me, as I don't really care what these horses did late summer and fall of 2012, I care about how they grew and where they are now in 2013. I used to get all caught up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and some of the other 2 YO races, and while stirring, that form doesn't always translate into the next season. It's a sort of visual bias I can live without.

I'm torn on how to feel about the new point system instituted to determine the 20 slots available in the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby, which is 119 days away. On one hand I think it makes more sense to add weight and perspective to the road that Triple Crown nominees take, but then again, humans created it, and humans have flaws like picking certain races that are owned by certain racing conglomerates. So a six horse Grade 3 Sham field today gets 10 points, while a Grade 2 race with 8 horses at Aqueduct gets nothing. I don't know why they could not have had more races with points associated. This is considered the "Prep" season with races accounting for 10 points for wins. Races jump to 50 and 100 points in the next legs and while I think 150 would safely get you into the gate, I think the weighting of these prep races will pick up significant value for the fifteen through twenty horse and injustice will be felt at some point. I won't condemn the system yet and it's not like the graded stakes earnings system didn't need a few tweaks, I'm just thinking that instead of tweaking they sledge hammered it.

Anyhow, let's get after the Sham Stakes and see what we have going on. Speaking of Sham, forever linked to Secretariat, he's pictured above to the right of Big Red.

I'm betting against Goldencents for no particular reason. I like his 6f work at Santa Anita an awful lot and he did run a strong Champagne as well as the Delta Jackpot. At some point I think his class gets the better of him, but when, I dunno.

I'm putting Baffert's two entries one and two, with Den's Legacy over Manando. Den's Legacy closed well in the Futurity in December and has a smokin' :46 2/5ths bullet just before the new year. Gomez is up, a 24% at Great Race Place . Manando, with Garcia up, went :46 and 1/5th a week earlier and comes in off a dominant MSW 45K race at Hollywood. Baffert and Garcia clip along at 26% together at Santa Anita.

I like Dirty Swagg too, the sort of horse like Love Theway You Are that Trainer Cho does well with.

I must be getting old as an Any Given Saturday colt, Dry Summer enters the gate. No idea what to expect out of him on a first race back since Breeders' Cup Saturday, a layoff Trainer Mullins wins 24% of the time. He's switching surface as well back to dirt, something he didn't do well on at Santa Anita in late September.

Welcome back race fans. The Turk feels rejuvenated, time to make a stack of bills.

Have fun, Turk Out!

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