Gormley tough to oppose in Sham, but San Gabriel open to a minor upset
Saturday's $100,000 Sham (G3) at Santa Anita runs through Gormley. The John Shirreffs-trained colt impressively captured the FrontRunner (G1) in October, grabbing an uncontested lead when a rival expected to show speed broke poorly, before throwing in a dud the next month in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
Given how he got away with such an easy pace and that the FrontRunner form was not flattered at all in the Juvenile, it's tempting to try and beat Gormley in the one-mile Sham. However, the alternative pickings are seemingly slim.
The Bob Baffert-trained American Anthem has the most room for improvement after just getting up to win his six-furlong debut by a neck. Big Hit had a troubled trip behind Gormley in his debut, and finally broke through last time, albeit while getting away with a moderate pace. I'm not sure he'll be able to withstand pressure from Blabimir here.
Term of Art has won twice at this distance, including the off-the-turf Cecil B. DeMille (G3) at Del Mar last time, but fared slightly worse in the Breeders' Cup than Gormley. Bird Is the Word is still a maiden, while Colonel Samsen is unproven on dirt and thus a bit of question mark.
Settling for chalk is generally not my thing, but Gormley is tough to oppose Saturday at 8-5 on the morning line.
The finale at Santa Anita on Saturday is the $200,000 San Gabriel (G2) for older horses on the turf, and like the Sham it will have a solid favorite, in this case Ring Weekend.
I rather liked Ring Weekend as a longshot exotics-booster in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1). That didn't pan out, but sticking by him in the Seabiscuit H. (G2) later in November proved the right course of action as he won by a head and paid $8.
Ring Weekend will presumably be a shorter price in the San Gabriel, so the value play instead could be Twentytwentyvision, who has never been out of the money in 14 career starts. Though he hasn't won at the graded level yet, he's come close on multiple occasions. Placings in the 2015 Eddie Read (G1) and 2016 Shoemaker Mile (G1), the latter behind Midnight Storm and Tourist, stand out.
Like Ring Weekend, Twentytwentyvision has shown he can handle less-than-firm ground, a good thing with rain in the area this weekend, and perhaps the addition of Hall of Famer Mike Smith will help him attain a new peak.
Twentytwentyvision is 4-1 on the morning line, and for me he's a worth a shot at or around that price.
(Gormley: Scott Shapiro photo)
(Twentytwentyvision: Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography)