Gormley didn’t fire in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), weakening to seventh as the 5-1 third choice, and Grade 1-winning colt will look to rebound when opening his 3-year-old campaign in Saturday’s $100,000 Sham (G3) at Santa Anita. The Kentucky Derby qualifier also serves as the highly-anticipated stakes bow for debut winner American Anthem.
Held at a mile, the Sham awards points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four respective finishers.
Gormley is the likely favorite among seven runners. A runaway winner first-time out in early September, Gormley followed with a three-length score in the October 1 FrontRunner (G1) at Del Mar, leading wire to wire for Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner John Shirreffs. The bay son of Malibu Moon shows four consecutive 5-furlong drills in preparation and retains the services of Victor Espinoza.
American Anthem overcame post 11 to win a salty maiden special weight race in early December, rallying from just off the pace to score by a neck, and received a commendable 94 BRIS Speed rating. Trained by four-time Kentucky Derby victor Bob Baffert, the $435,000 2-year-old in training purchase hails from the first crop of Bodemeister and is out of the A.P. Indy mare Indy’s Windy, a half-sister to champion 3-year-old filly Banshee Breeze. Mike Smith takes over the reins on the well-regarded colt.
Term of Art has captured two of his last three starts, the lone setback being a ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The Doug O’Neill trainee broke his maiden three starts back and exits a victory in the off-the-turf Cecil De Mille (G3), both wins coming locally at a mile. Regular rider Joe Talamo will be up.
Turf maiden winner Colonel Samsen also has stakes experience, winning the December 3 Gold Rush on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields. He will make his first dirt attempt for Eoin Harty and adds the services of Flavien Prat.
Completing the line-up are last-out maiden winners Big Hit and Blabimir; and Bird is the Word, who is winless from five starts.
Santa Anita will also offer the $200,000 San Gabriel (G2) and $100,000 Las Cienegas (G3) on Saturday.
Grade 1 winner Ring Weekend, who exits a triumph in the November 26 Seabiscuit (G2) at Del Mar, heads a field of 12 turf runners in the San Gabriel at 1 1/8 miles.
Watch This Cat, who has shown a real affinity for the about 6 ½-furlong downhill course in her last two outings, will try to carry her winning ways forward at the stakes level against four Las Cienegas rivals.