With the change in the calendar to 2012, the search once again begins in earnest for a three year old who can end the drought. The now nearly 23 year-long drought since a winner of a the Santa Anita Derby has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. The first step to finding who will be the one to carry the chances to end the drought is the Grade 3 $100,000 Sham Stakes going one mile. This race has moved around the calendar the last few years and has replaced the now-defunct San Rafael (which was run at the same distance) with the cutback to one mile after last year's running at 1m & 1/16th. A field of six runners comes together, a mix of stakes winners and horses who just broke their maiden.
The morning line favorite will be Secret Circle. This Bob Baffert trainee was last seen gamely holding on in the inaugural running of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint. This will be the furthest he has ever run as he stretches out to two turns for the race. This son of Eddington shouldn't have a problem with the extra distance from a pedigree standpoint, as his sire won several stakes at 9f and further, and his dam having won going two turns as well. He is a horse with ample speed, though as he showed in the Jack Goodman Stakes, he does not need the lead to win. His workouts have been the typical swift Baffert drills in the A.M. He figures to be on the lead or sitting just off a swift pace, a plus on this track.
Hierro ships in from Kentucky, along with the rest of the Asmussen contingent, looking to win this race in back-to-back years for the barn. (Tapizar won this race last year) This son of Hard Spun broke his maiden in his third try at the 7 furlong distance last time out. He brings along with him the jockey who rode him in that win in from out-of-town, Julien Leparoux. He is another who stretches out another furlong and goes two turns for the first time. He has worked like clockwork since his arrival, including a bullet two works back. He has been well backed in the future books in Vegas, as he has bet down to a low 25/1. (As a reference point, the favorite is Union Rags at 10/1, Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner is 18/1). His pedigree does not figure to be an issue going one mile, as his sire won going 9 furlongs. He sat off a less-than-blistering pace in his win, so he figures to project to be mid-pack, probably near Out of Bounds.
The other three who make up the field are: Senor Rain, who figures to add to pace, even with the blinkers being taken off; Longview Drive, who comes off a third-place finish in the Delta Jackpot (just like last year's Sham runner-up Clubhouse Ride) and seems to have discovered a passing gear; and Handsome Mike, who cuts back a sixteenth when fading late after setting swift fractions in the Hollywood Futurity. All three have route experience in stakes, with varying results.
The pick is Out of Bounds, as either he or Secret Circle figures to be the one to take advantage of the expected solid pace, and he will be the better price. He will take the first stone of the path to figuring out who will be this year's possible "Drought Breaker".
Good luck folks!