5 Fast Facts about the Sham Stakes, a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep-race
  1. First held in 2001, the race is named after Sham, the horse best known for running second to Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but a fine horse in his own right. The California-trained colt won the 1973 Santa Anita Derby and beat Secretariat home when finishing second to the Triple Crown winner’s stablemate Angle Light in the Wood Memorial.
  2. The Sham Stakes began life as a 1 1/8 mile feature held in early February at Santa Anita Park. It earned grade three status in 2006, and was shifted to early January in 2011. It has settled as a one mile race since 2012.
  3. Despite being run just 17 times, 12 of those have been won by three jockeys. Victor Espinoza won the first Sham Stakes on Wild and Wise, and the most recent, aboard Gormley last year. In between was successful in 2005 and 2006. Garrett Gomez and Alex Solis both rode the Sham Stakes winner four times as well.
  4. No winner of the Sham Stakes has won a Classic as yet, though 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo finished third in the Sham Stakes and 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker finished second. Three Sham Stakes winners have, however, gone on to win the Santa Anita Derby: Colonel John (2008), Goldencents (2013), and Gormley (2017).
  5. In three consecutive years, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile fell to a winner of the Sham Stakes. Tapizar, winner of the Sham Stakes in 2011, won the Dirt Mile the following year, while 2013 Sham Stakes winner Goldencents won the Dirt Mile in 2013 and 2014.

    (Churchill Downs Photo)