ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 10, 2015)–Heavily favored Calculator stamped himself as a first-tier Derby hopeful with an impressive 4 ¼ length win in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Elvis Trujillo and trained by Peter Miller, Calculator got the one mile Sham in a rapid 1:34.88, and in so doing, notched his first win in his fifth career try.
Breaking from post position seven, Calculator rated kindly mid-pack and pounced on the leaders three-wide midway around the far turn and took command three sixteenths of a mile from home.
“It was a perfect trip,” said Trujillo. “I went wide because I’d rather go wide than be in between horses, or caught inside. I wanted a clean trip. He did it very easy today. Stretching out will be no problem for him, he’s very good.”
A Florida-bred colt by In Summation, Calculator came off two consecutive second place finishes behind highly regarded American Pharoah in the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes on Sept. 27 and the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3.
“I didn’t expect him to be this good,” said Miller. “I was hoping he was good enough to win at 90 percent (fitness). The water gets deeper from here on out, so we’re going to have to step up our game and move forward off of this one. We’ll see how the horse comes out, but I wouldn’t rule out coming back in a month in the Lewis (Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 7). The timing of it is good and when my horses are good, I like to run them.”
Owned by Richard C. Pell, Calculator was off at 3-5 in a field of eight sophomores and paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.20. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $193,500.
“I went by the barn this morning and he bit me,” said Pell, who has owned horses since 2008 and registered his second graded stakes win with victory in the Sham. “I took it as a good sign. Usually when they do that, I have them gelded–just kidding.”
When asked about the inevitable offers that come to promising 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail, Pell responded, “He’s not really for sale. When you’re on the trail, you want to see what happens.”
Longshot Rock Shandy, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, finished second, 4 ¼ lengths in front of Pioneerof the West. Off at 21-1, Rock Shandy paid $10.60 and $5.40.
“I think he’s going to be a nice colt, he’s still trying to figure it out, he’s still green,” said Espinoza. “The way he works in the morning, I’ve always been very impressed…It was a big step for him today.”
Ridden by Corey Nakatani and off at 17-1, Pioneerof the West sat second early and held on for third, finishing a half length in front of pacesetter St. Joe Bay. Pioneerof the West paid $6.00 show.
Fractions on the race were 22.87, 46.36, 1:10.43 and 1:22.52.
The winner receives 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, while second is worth four points, third, two and fourth, one point.