Shapiro's analysis of the Sham Stakes

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TwinSpires Staff

January 5th, 2018

by Scott Shapiro

With the cancellation of the Jerome at Aqueduct due to weather conditions, the first 2018 race offering qualifying points for the 2018 Kentucky Derby is the $100,000 Sham. The Grade 3 event run at one mile over Santa Anita’s main track drew a field of seven led by Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) winner McKinzie (#6).

You do not need me to tell you that McKinzie is the likeliest to accrue the 10 points offered in Saturday’s co-feature.

The son of Street Sense ran incredibly well in his lone try over this course in late October at seven furlongs. He followed that debut victory up with a win via a controversial disqualification in his first try versus winners on December 9.

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Regardless of whether you believe that Solomini deserved to be taken down last month in Orange County, McKinzie’s first attempt at a route of ground was a strong one. The Bob Baffert-conditioned colt was wide early and jockey Mike Smith was forced to move earlier than he probably preferred, but McKinzie still showed toughness in fighting to the wire.

It is hard to imagine that he did not come out of the race well since Baffert opts to wheel him back on less than a month rest. I expect the $170,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase to handle his rivals with relative ease as his Hall of Fame trainer removes the blinkers for the first time on Saturday afternoon.

While there is little value to be had with using McKinzie on top, my choice for second My Boy Jack (#1) should provide some separation underneath in the exotics.

The son of Creative Cause has raced exclusively on the grass for trainer Keith Desormeaux since a sixth-place finish going five furlongs on debut last June. The Kentucky-bred colt has finished in the top three in all of his races since his first try other than a seventh-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last out when he ran well, but an extremely wide voyage eventually took a toll on him in the lane.

My Boy Jack has drawn toward the outside in each of his last four starts, which has led to significant ground loss, but he drew the rail for the Sham so jockey Kent Desormeaux should be able to take the shortest distance from start to finish.

Getting the best of McKinzie does not seem likely for My Boy Jack, but hitting the board at 12-1 on the line appears well within the range of outcomes. I will key him underneath in the exotics and hope Kent can work out an ideal voyage on Saturday afternoon

The other major players in the Sham are Mourinho (#4) and Shivermetimbers (#5).

Mourinho is a colt I will try to beat. The son of Super Saver has a win and two runner-up efforts, but he appears to be a horse that is best suited for one turn. He should be involved early, but I expect him to tire late.

On the other hand, Shivermetimbers ran fine in his first two starts for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, and was able to put it altogether in his initial race going a route of ground. His maiden win was flattered when the horse he dueled with to the wire, Peace, came back last week and won a strong maiden special weight event. Shivermetimbers should be a factor throughout in his initial try against winners.

I will not wager that much into the race since I like the short-priced favorite to make it three straight to start his career, but here is how I will attack the Sham:

$20 Exacta

$10 Trifecta Key
6 with 1+5


Good luck at the windows!