Five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert holds a strong two-card hand in the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes as Authentic and Azul Coast head a field of six sophomores going one mile on Saturday, January 4 at Santa Anita Park.
The Sham, named for the winner of the 1973 Santa Anita Derby, will provide the winner with 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, with four to the runner-up, two to the third-place finisher and one to the fourth.
Trainer Richard Baltas is also well represented in the Sham, as his Taishan, an impressive one mile allowance winner here on Nov. 3, would appear to rate a huge chance in what will be his third career start.
||Drayden Van Dyke
||Jose Valdivia, Jr.
Off as the 3-5 favorite in a field of six, this $350,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase pressed the pace and drew off to a 1 1/2 length tally in his 5 1/2 furlong debut at Del Mar on Nov. 9. A Kentucky-bred colt by Into Mischief, out of the Mr. Greeley mare Flawless, Authentic earned a Sham-best 87 Beyer Speed figure and has trained in impressive fashion for his second start on Saturday.
Owner: SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stable, LLC | Trainer: Bob Baffert
A $320,000 Keeneland September Yearling by Super Saver, Azul Coast aired by four lengths on an off track in his one mile debut at Los Alamitos on Dec. 8 while off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of seven.
Out of the Maria's Mon mare Sky Treasure, Azul Coast gets the services of Joel Rosario as Drayden Van Dyke will ride Authentic back for a second time. Although he was a handy winner, Azul Coast earned a 75 Beyer and will likely go as the second choice in the Sham.
Owner: Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman | Trainer: Bob Baffert
A respectable fifth in his six furlong debut Aug. 17 at Del Mar, Taishan stretched out to a flat mile on Nov. 3 here at Santa Anita and responded with a solid one length maiden victory, earning an 81 Beyer while off at 3-1 in a field of six.
A Kentucky-bred colt by Twirling Candy out of the Philanthropist mare Grace Phil, Taishan brought $150,000 at the Ocala Breeders March 2-year-old in Training Sale and looks like a colt with a bright future.
"I'm not concerned that Taishan is stepping up," Baltas said of the bay son of Twirling Candy, who broke his maiden going a mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3 for owners Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran. "It was his first time going long and he won and got a good number (81 Beyer)."
"He's trained really well since then, he's had a bunch of time between races and I think he'll give a good account of himself."
Owner: Calvin Nguyen & Joey Tran | Trainer: Richard Baltas