In trying to evaluate the legacy of Sham, the 1973 Derby and Preakness runner-up, we have to consider he’d probably have won these 2 races in almost any other year. His times are in the top 5 in history — he just happened to be in the same crop with Secretariat. There is a connection between Sham and Santa Anita, with Sham winning the Santa Anita Derby. But, on the downside, he didn’t win a Triple Crown race and was injured in the Belmont.
This race is a GIII. Based on his legacy, you could argue for GII — the Secretariat is a GI. But it seems a bit of a stretch for, what is in fact, a losing horse. I think the GIII is about right. Even assuming that he won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, that puts him far from elite company — 64 horses have won at least two legs of the Triple Crown in a given year. But the historic nature of his times deserve recognition and I’m glad to see Sham’s name next to a graded stake.
(Wolly Bully is in my head)
On the actual race today, it’s a GIII mile for 3-year-olds. Still just a mile, it nevertheless could go a long way towards shaping the Derby qualifying on the West Coast. The race begins with McKinzie who has run lights out both times on the track. He was beaten last night, but put up as the winner. The decision was controversial to say the least (I am biased here). Mourinho is fast enough to win, but does have two second-place finishes as the favorite with a big of hang at the end. Blinkers go on, potentially to address this failure to move away from the pack. My Boy Jack will try to bring good turf form — his last start was a 3-length loss in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf — to the dirt. You can’t put too much stock in his poor showing at 5f in his career debut.
I’m going to try to beat McKinzie and do it with the headwear-added Mourinho. I like My Boy Jack to close and finish well underneath.