Collected gets paid as Baffert trainees run one-two in Sham
Collected, the 3-2 favorite and making his first start on dirt, broke outside seven rivals, raced wide into the first turn, and settled in fourth as Semper Fortis set a pace of :23.29 and :47.18.
Making a three-wide bid for the lead approaching the quarter pole, Collected was just ahead of the inside-rallying Found Money after six furlongs in 1:11.92. Drawing away from that rival in the stretch, Collected held on by a diminishing 1 1/4 lengths over Let's Meet in Rio, a recent maiden scorer who rallied from far back in a solid effort. Laoban, second to Let's Meet in Rio last time, finished third.
Owned by Speedway Stable and ridden by Martin Garcia, Collected paid $5 after completing one mile on a fast track in 1:38.
"I was full of horse on the backstretch," Garcia said. "I knew I never wanted to be in behind horses, I just wanted him to flow. Everybody decided to send [from the gate], so I took advantage of that. He was a little wide, but I took him back a little after the first turn and he let me do whatever I wanted. When I asked him, he took off."
Collected earned 10 points toward Kentucky Derby eligibility as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Let's Meet in Rio earned 4 points, Laoban 2, and Found Money 1 for finishing fourth.
A son of City Zip, Collected debuted at Santa Anita going about 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course October 12. Prevailing by a nose after a stretch-long duel, Collected returned the following month to finish second in the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) going a mile on the turf at Del Mar. He was 1 1/4 lengths behind Dressed in Hermes, who was scratched from the Sham after spiking a fever.
Sham runner-up Let's Meet in Rio, who survived a stewards' inquiry after bumping a rival entering the stretch, appears to have a very bright future. The Juddmonte homebred is closely-related to European miler star Kingman and the brilliant sprinter and sire Oasis Dream.
"He was just getting his motor running there at the sixteenth pole," said jockey Kent Desormeaux of Let's Meet in Rio. "I think he'll relish more ground, and that's encouraging."
“He really impressed me with his last couple works, so I was sort of excited to see what he could do, but you never know until they do it," said Baffert of Collected. "I was hoping for a little easier trip, hoping to lone speed, but that didn’t work out. Everybody had the same instructions, but Martin did a great job. He stayed patient with him and still had something left at the end after all that, so that was pretty impressive.
“Let’s Meet in Rio looks like he’ll go longer. He was really coming late. It’s the time of year when you want to see something like that, so it’s exciting. He really had to work a little extra hard on the outside like that...but he responded the way you want him to respond. He kept on digging away at it.
“I think this race will do him some good. I could tell in the paddock he looked a little heavy. He’s a very fast horse and there’s something about him in the mornings that really encouraged me that he’s going to be a runner.”