Looking for Derby Points Via the Sham

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, January 2, 2021

Today a field of five three-year-olds will vye for their share of Road to the Kentucky Derby points via the $100,000 Sham Stakes. 

If it's a Derby prep race in California, you know Bob Baffert will have at least one horse in the field and he's probably won it a handful of times as well. Tomorrow is no exception. Baffert will have two horses in the race with MEDINA SPIRIT (M/L: 6-1) and LIFE IS GOOD (M/L: 2/5). As far as records, Baffert has won the Sham several times including 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020. Interestingly enough, he seems to only win in the even years. He was not victorious in 2015, 2017 or 2019, so that leaves the other two trainers with a shot should this pattern hold true. 

Trainer John Shirreffs also has two starters in the field tomorrow with WASPIRANT (M/L: 15-1) and PARNELLI (M/L: 5/2). And then there is trainer Andrew Lerner with his one starter in the race, UNCLE BOOGIE (M/L: 12-1). 

But, LIFE IS GOOD is arguably Baffert's best three-year-old as the son of INTO MISCHIEF put on quite the show in his first start winning at 6 ½ furlongs by 9 ½ lengths. With his bloodlines, two turns shouldn't be a problem. Plus, Mike Smith is on board. As for Baffert's other entry, MEDINA SPIRIT, he ran sharp in his Los Alamitos debut but the race was only 5 ½ furlongs. As far as longer distances, LIFE IS GOOD should handle the mile Sham quite well.

John Shirreffs' PARNELLI is coming off a nice maiden win at Del Mar, where he won by a 5 ¾ lengths. He is likely to be the main threat to LIFE IS GOOD after he broke his stretch of runner up finishes. He will have Drayden Van Dyke in the irons. 

WASPIRANT and UNCLE BOOGIE are both longshots. WASPIRANT has run in Grade 1 company, but lost in the American Pharoah Stakes by 10 lengths. The shorter distance should help and he's losing his blinkers, but his stablemate has a much better shot. Jockey Umberto Rispoli will be riding WASPIRANT.

UNCLE BOOGIE was second in his last start, the seven furlong Bob Hope Stakes (G3). While he is likely to finish in the money with the extra distance, he will have to work hard to get a win. Flavien Prat will be up for trainer Andrew Lerner.

The Sham has had several notable winners over the years starting with the 2020 Kentucky Derby winner, AUTHENTIC. In 2018, MCKINZIE took home the win and 2013 GOLDENCENTS (another INTO MISCHIEF son) found his way to the winner's circle. While the Sham doesn't always produce Derby winners, it's definitely a great prep race to start collecting those points. 


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