The Golden Road to the Kentucky Derby begins on Sunday with the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Bob Baffert has won a record eight Shams, including the last three. The Hall of Famer is in good shape to keep his streak alive as he trains four of the six runners entered. The Sham, and the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday, each offer 17 Derby qualifying points, including 10 to the winner. Below are some considerations when betting online at the racebook.
Spun Intended Poised To Spring Upset in California
Baffert remains suspended from Churchill Downs because of medical violations, so his horses aren’t eligible to earn Kentucky Derby points. His equine athletes, though, have a chance to dominate the proceedings in the one-mile race, but Spun Intended, trained by Mark Glatt, may have other ideas. The Hard Spun colt broke his maiden by 6½ lengths at Del Mar in November.
Baffert’s top horse appears to be National Treasure, who is +3600 to win the Kentucky Derby. National Treasure comes off a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, beaten by 3¾ lengths. Reincarnate, who needed four starts to break his maiden, makes his third on dirt. Baffert also has Newgate and Speed Boat Beach. Newgate, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, was fifth in the Juvenile. John Velazquez will be aboard National Treasure.
Packs a Wahlop, trained by Jeff Mullins, rounds out the field.
It’s hard to say who will control the race up front, but with National Treasure, Reincarnate and Newgate sharing common ownership, it’s unlikely any sort of speed duel will ensue. National Treasure could be the fastest, while Spun Intended is trending in the right direction speed figure-wise. Look for National Treasure to have the lead at the top of the stretch with Spun Intended taking dead aim on what could be a softened-up pacesetter.
The Sham Stakes is Race 8. Post time is 6:30 p.m. ET.
The Play: 2-6 Exacta Box
‘Knight’ Could Have Big Day in Jerome at Aqueduct
Linda Rice trains two of the eight runners in the Jerome, including 8-5 morning-line favorite Arctic Arrogance. There is plenty of competition for the Frosted colt, though, in the one-turn mile and second of five Kentucky Derby prep races at Aqueduct. Neural Network, trained by Chad Brown, is the second choice in the horse racing odds at 7-2. There is speed galore lined up in the Jerome, but playing a closer could be the way to go.
Lugan Knight, trained by Michael McCarthy, is one of two horses who should be coming late. Lugan Knight comes off a third in a $100,000 optional claiming race at Churchill Downs. Victory Formation won that race, 1½ lengths ahead of Lugan Knight. Victory Formation won the Smarty Jones Stakes on the Oaklawn road to the Derby by three lengths in his next start. The one-mile distance of the Jerome seems to fit Lugan Knight, a Goldencents colt.
Lugan Knight, ridden by Dylan Davis, should get an excellent pace set up and have every opportunity to go by in the stretch. Neural Network, who makes his second start, should get an excellent stalking trip from the rail. Arctic Arrogance will fight the good fight on or near the lead, but may be unable to hold off the top two.
The Jerome Stakes is Race 8. Post time is 3:16 p.m. ET.
The Plays: 4 with 1,6 exactas; 4 with 1,6 with 1,6 trifectas