Gunmetal Gray rallies to win Sham

Gunmetal Gray made a last-to-first rally to defeat heavily favored Coliseum and five others in Saturday’s $100,702 Sham (G3) at Santa Anita, the first Road to the Kentucky Derby series prep of 2019.

Never more than seven lengths off an early pace set by Savagery, Gunmetal Gray made a four-wide bid in upper stretch and was up in time to defeat 18-1 chance Sueno by one length. Much Better, who built up a 2 12-length advantage in mid-stretch but showed greenness through the stretch, weakened to third, 1 14 lengths ahead of Gray Magician.

Coliseum, the 3-5 favorite, beat just one horse to the finish. He bumped with Gunmetal Gray leaving the gate, raced wide down the backside, and failed to respond around the far turn.

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Pearl Racing, and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Gunmetal Gray paid $9.40 after completing one mile on a fast track in 1:38.96.

Gunmetal Gray earned 10 Derby qualifying points for the victory, boosting his total to 14. He had previously earned four points for a second-place effort in the American Pharoah (G1) behind Game Winner last September. Sueno, Much Better, and Gray Magician earned points of 4-2-1, respectively.

Fifth and first in two maiden appearances at Del Mar prior to the American Pharoah, Gunmetal Gray concluded his juvenile campaign with a fifth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). His career earnings are now $217,200.

Bred in Kentucky by Lee Poloik, Gunmetal Gray is by Exchange Rate and out of the stakes-placed Include mare Classofsixtythree. He was a $225,000 OBS March juvenile purchase.

Sham Stakes History 

The Sham Stakes is one of the first Road to the Kentucky Derby races held at the start of each calendar year. The Grade 3 race is held at Santa Anita Park in January, and has been contested at one mile since 2012. The race has a current purse of $100,000, and the top four finishers receive 10-4-2-1 points, respectively, towards a spot in the upcoming Kentucky Derby starting gate.

The Sham Stakes was inaugurated in 2001 at a distance of 1 18 miles. The race is named for the racehorse Sham, who won the 1973 Santa Anita Derby and was remembered for his battles with Secretariat during the 1973 Triple Crown races when he finished runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

The race record for fastest time at 1 18 miles belongs to Pamplemousse, who clocked 1:47.86 in 2009; the current one-mile record time of 1:34.56 belongs to Out of Bounds (2012). Late jockey Garrett Gomez won back-to-back Sham Stakes, including with Out of Bounds, and he’s tied with jockeys Alex Solis and Victor Espinoza with a record four Sham Stakes victories.

Trainer Bob Baffert has won a record five Sham Stakes, with his most recent win in 2018 when McKinzie won through disqualification. In 2016, the Baffert-trained Collected won the Sham and ran in the Preakness Stakes. Collected then took nearly a year off before returning to win his first four starts of 2017, including the $1 million Pacific Classic over the world’s No. 1 race horse, Arrogate. Baffert also trained Bob and John, who won the 2006 Sham and competed in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

The 2017 Sham winner was Gormley, who went on to win the Santa Anita Derby and then run in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes before retiring at the end of the summer with more than $1 million in track earnings.

The 2013 Sham winner was Goldencents, who also won the Santa Anita Derby before running in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Over the next 15 months, Goldencents would finish second six times and also win the Breeders’ Cup Mile in both 2013 and 2014 to amass earnings of more than $3 million. Tapizar won the 2011 Sham and the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Colonel John was the winner of the 2008 Sham, and he ran in the Kentucky Derby and then won the Travers Stakes that same year. He would go on to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic two times and earn more than $1.7 million.

No Sham Stakes winner has won a Triple Crown race. However, 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo finished third in the Sham and 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker was second in the Sham.

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