Gormley Set for Sham Return
By Casey Laughter
Saturday’s $100,000 Sham Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita is the first of the California Kentucky Derby (GI) prep races, which leads into the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GII), the San Felipe Stakes (GII) and the Santa Anita Derby (GI) later in the spring. Some of the seven 3-year-olds will be making their stakes debut while others are trying to prove they belong among the best of this freshly minted sophomore crop.
The main focus of the field is Gormley, a son of Malibu Moon who has the same connections as not only the great racemare Zenyatta, but also 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo.
Gormley went into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile off two straight wins, including the FrontRunner Stakes (GI) over a highly regarded Klimt. After a bumpy run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI), trainer John Shirreffs admitted he may have made some mistakes in training the handsome bay colt.
Shirreffs told the BloodHorse recently that, “I trained him a lot for the Breeders’ Cup—a lot of gallops. His workouts were a little slow because I was galloping him so much. Long gallops and slow works didn’t put him in the right mindset.”
Since the Breeders’ Cup, Gormley has been working well at both Santa Anita and Del Mar, often in company with older stablemate Cool Samurai. In his most recent move, Gormley went five furlongs in 1:00 3/5, which was the third fastest workout of nine for the day at the distance.
Pedigree suggests the one-mile distance of the Sham will not be an issue, but with rain in the forecast, Gormley will need run his best race yet, as he has never encountered a wet track.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will send a promising colt named American Anthem to post in the Sham. The son of first crop stallion Bodemeister has only one start, but won his debut by just a neck, and appeared to obviously need more ground to win more decisively.
Like the majority of the rest of the field, American Anthem will likely need to handle a wet track, but his breeding should speak to the fact he shouldn’t have an issue with it. Bodemeister was a winner at nine furlongs and a close second in both the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. A.P. Indy, who is American Anthem’s broodmare sire, has proven time and time again his lineage instills stamina and tenacity.
The other graded stakes winner in the field is the Doug O’Neill-trained Term of Art. After taking three starts to break his maiden, which he accomplished at this one-mile distance, he was entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and after a terrible trip that day, he subsequently ran in the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (GIIIT) to try his turf form. However, the race was rained off the turf and moved to the Del Mar main track and Term of Art won the race by 1 1/4 lengths over a wet track listed as good that day.
Term of Art is a son of Tiznow and out of a Storm Cat mare. He has already proven to handle a track with moisture, so he could be a good play here.
Other horses in the Sham include Colonel Samsen, a minor stakes winner by Colonel John. The gelding broke his maiden in his fifth start going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf and won the one-mile Gold Rush Stakes on the all weather track at Golden Gate. He has a pedigree to handle the distance and more, but his dirt form has been questionable in the past.
Trainer Phil D’Amato sends in Big Hit, a son of Super Saver out of a Hard Spun mare. Big Hit has already faced both Term of Art and Gormley, in which he finished off the board in both those starts. He has the breeding to handle an off track, but does he have the talent?
Finally, Doug O’Neill will tighten the girth on Paul Reddam’s Blabimir, a son of Tapizar who just broke his maiden last time out at Los Alamitos. The colt is out of an Elusive Quality mare, and at first glance, it appears he may not be bred for the distance. He will be a pace factor, which could set the race up for later runners and stalkers, such as Term of Art and American Anthem.
The Sham Stakes has been carded as the seventh race Saturday, with a post time of 3:30 p.m. PT. The race will award 10-4-2-1 valuable Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers, respectively.