Kentucky Derby Qualifying Race: Sham Stakes 2019
The Sham hasn’t produced a Kentucky Derby winner since its inception in 2001, but more than a handful of serious contenders have emerged from the race victorious, including the Baffert-trained McKinzie just a year ago. Of course, the talented McKinzie would miss the Run for the Roses due to injury, while stablemate Justify emerged as a super horse and eventual Triple Crown winner.
The 2019 Sham renewal looks to have some talented colts, and here are my initial thoughts on this group:
- Coliseum could be Baffert’s next star and it’s not too early to say that despite just a single start
- Gunmetal Gray flopped in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but looms a solid contender here
- Much Better, Baffert’s “other entry,” goes turf to dirt here and likely gets overbet
- Trainer Peter Miller has a solid, but unspectacular pair in Savagery and Gray Magician
- Sueno and Easy Shot are overmatched
The primary handicapping question here is likely whether or not Coliseum is ready and able to handle a two-turn stakes race after easily dispatching maidens at the seven-furlong distance in his only start to date.
Here’s a look at the field:
- Sueno 20/1
- Gray Magician 8/1
- Savagery 5/1
- Easy Shot 20/1
- Coliseum 6/5
- Gunmetal Gray 2/1
- Much Better 6/1
There’s an old horse racing adage about the wisdom in refusing to take a short price on a horse trying something for the first time. While Coliseum is attempting two turns and a field of winners for the first time in his precocious career, the adage doesn’t hold as much water when Bob Baffert is training. Baffert has made unprecendeted accomplishments the norm, saddling a pair of Triple Crown winners in the last three years and breaking the Apollo curse in last year’s KY Derby with Justify. Baffert trains better horses than most and always seems to get the most out of his stock.
Coliseum is well-bred, fast, and working extremely well for his second career start. All that being said, he’s going to have to show up with an excellent performance to beat Gunmetal Gray, who placed second in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes last September.
My pick and bet
I’ll go with Coliseum here and I fully expect to get the worst of the price. If sent to post at odds of 4/5 or even money, I can make a case for fair value, given that this does appear to be a two-horse race. I’ll lean on Coliseum in multi-race bets like the double, pick 3, and pick 4, but I’ll play Gunmetal Gray as a backup choice on other tickets.
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In near future we will have the Kentucky Derby 2019 Horses, the Kentucky Derby Contenders 2019 and the Kentucky Derby Odds.
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